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A movie directed by Michael Lehmann

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20th High School Reunion Edition

  • Sep 28, 2011
  • by
Screenwriter Daniel Waters conceived Heathers as a three-hour epic teen comedy to end the genre while stocking shelves and registering videocassettes at a rental outlet. Thankfully, his initial vision was never realized, but the end result of his first and best collaboration with director Michael Lehmann both shook and tickled audiences during the waning months of the '80s, and still exerts a palpable influence over twenty years after it was first released to critical consternation and popular acclaim. Never mind that he invented an amusing phraseology of juvenile slang, undermined every trope that mass media news outlets dry-humped for ratings and knocked out the teeth of the teen exploitation phenomenon; Waters' radical notions were actually committed to onscreen immortality, an accomplishment that few screenwriters who eschew convention could hope for. Both influenced by and responding aggressively against John Hughes' teen fare (of whom both Waters and Lehmann are admitted admirers), Heathers was a bold, funny, ugly stab at suburbia. Although its cult appeal has given rise to overestimation in some quarters, its own self-conscious recognition and parody of topicality and fashion circumvent its dated trappings.

Disc 1

This is admirably, accessibly spare: the feature, its scene selections via twenty-nine titled thumbnails of six screens, bright white English subtitles for the hearing impaired in Helvetica imitation font and a commentary track voiced by Waters, Lehmann and producer Denise Di Nova. Both DVD and Blu-ray editions of this remastered print are handsome to the eye, surpassing the quality of any prior. Francis Kenny's cinematography for this picture was as dark as that of Dean Cundey's early work, often contrasting icy blue photography with standout hellish red elements (and vice versa); in earlier DVDs and every VHS release, the colors of these scenes were horribly muddled; here, these sequences benefit from a crisp picture, the vibrant hues of which far more distinct. Its Dolby Surround 5.1 audio mix is lucid but unexceptional, and rightly so - it's sourced from a mono soundtrack.
Typically, the quality of a commentary track is determined by the occupation of its host and their proximity to the production in question. From best to worst, these participants include: directors, screenwriters, actors, cinematographers, producers, editors, riggers, best boys, journalists, on-set janitorial staff, film historians. Fortunately, this 1996 voice-over recorded for a Laserdisc release benefits from the deranged dork wit of Waters and his former collaborators, the best moments of which are likely to induce giggles from its audience. Topics of conversation include: unexpected professed influences of Kubrick, Frankenheimer and Agatha Christie; New World Pictures' extraordinarily inept marketing department; evident thirtysomething extras who look no younger beside the teenage principal cast; uncomfortable casting sessions; legal wrangling with 7-11; fetor endured while shooting at a frat house; faux cow tipping in Griffith Park; Brad Pitt's and Dana Delaney's pre-production line readings; abhorrent alternate titles of European releases; innumerable mentions of deleted scenes. Don't expect to see any of that last, for New World almost invariably misplaced cut footage - similarly, that of Reform School Girls and Hellbound is nowhere to be found. Unlike his comparatively subdued companions, Waters is unrestrained and honest in his promotion of the film as a satire of teen suicide as both a social trend and a subject of media exploitation.

Disc 2

To be honest, the content of this second plate is negligible, though informative beyond the purview of the first disc's commentary. Two featurettes and a theatrical trailer constitute its selections, and although the former are regrettably as overproduced and self-reverential as most others, their subjects render them watchable.
Produced in 2009, Return to Westerburg High is unique to this edition, a twenty-minute record of footage from interviews with Waters, Lehmann and Di Nova, recent photography of John Adams Middle School (where numerous exteriors for the film were shot) and clips from the picture itself. Waters' ramblings are fun to hear, but this is a dull exercise otherwise.
Swatch Dogs and Diet Coke Heads was produced in 2001 for the THX DVD edition, and this more balanced twenty-seven minute account of the movie's shoot and reception is of much greater interest. Interviews with Waters, Lehmann, Di Nova, D.P. Francis Kenny, editor Norman Hollyn and those most prominent of the surviving cast (Ryder, Slater, Doherty, Falk) provide more perspective and (wonder of wonders) a few knowing revelations. Again, Waters' exposition is diverting and instructive....as he describes his three alternate endings with relish, one can fully understand why he craved fruition for one of these indulgent conclusions, and why New World refused to let Lehmann film them. Also, early plans for casting Veronica Sawyer (now inextricably recognized as Ryder's trademark character) are bewildering. Waters' intention for pristine Jennifer Connelly to play the role were plausible, if misguided, but New World's appalling first choice for the part of the corrupted rich girl was Justine Bateman! A young, enthusiastic Heather Graham was the first pick for Heather Chandler, a position canceled by her mother, who deemed the script "satanic" in an instance of supreme irony (as sweetheart Annie Blackburn in Twin Peaks, Graham was subjected to far more emblematic devilry). Best of all, clips from Beaver Gets a Boner, Lehmann's sleazy, twisted short student film, are briefly excerpted, and probably the only commercial means by which anyone can see any part of this much-lauded USC trash.
Unfortunately, Heathers wasn't at all properly represented by its idiotic theatrical trailer, which is also to be had here.
Last among the second disc's offerings is the most extravagant of Waters' alternate endings in PDF format, accessible to those with a DVD-ROM (circa 2011, almost everyone).

All features of the second DVD are included in SD on the single Blu-ray disc of this edition.

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September 28, 2011
OUAOU! :D This is fantastic and satisfyingly in - depthie! :D I just rememberedsie that we were going to see the alternate ending storyboard thingies, but we forgotsie, heehee! ^-^ Brad Pitt and Dana Delaney were auditioningsie?!?!?! HEEHEE! ^-^ I love that you call the second disc a plate, heehee! ^-^ It's so cuuuuuuuute! ^-^ Heehee! ^-^ Muu! ^-^ I want to see all of these extrasies with you *and* the commentarysies, heehee! ^-^ Excellent reviewsie, Snuudles! ^-^ Muu! ^-^

*rubs sweet faceies*
*juicy yummy kissssssssssssies* ^-^

♥ Annusya ♥
October 01, 2011
As my Presario's DVD-R often naps for days, I can't yet retrieve the PDF script excerpt from that secondary frisbee. Honesty, I wouldn't miss a another viewing of the featurettes or the supplementary disc entirely, though it is a nice product. The meat of this package is its commentary track, which is a hoooooot.

*cheek rubs*
*wet smooches all over*
October 01, 2011
OUH! ^-^ You're so cuuuuuuuuuute, heehee! ^-^ We'll look at the PDF scriptie when I come to your housie, heehee! ^-^ I'm very excitedsie to watch the commentary trackie with Youuu, heehee! ^-^

*rubs faceies*
*juicy yummy kisssssssssssies all oversie!* ^-^

♥ Annusya ♥
More Heathers reviews
Quick Tip by . October 07, 2010
posted in Cult Cinema
Best dark comedy about high school, period. I am not a fan of any of the actors, but the movie is brilliant beyond their limitations.
Quick Tip by . July 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is wrong in so many ways, but I can never seem to turn away from the screen if it is on.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Slater shows that even at a young age he could pull of a very complex role. Ryder is amazing and so is Dougherty.
Quick Tip by . July 08, 2010
WINONA FOREVER. "Well, F*** me gently with a chainsaw."
Quick Tip by . July 06, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is one of my favorite movies! I think for its time it was pretty shocking, and I find it to be hilarious yet quite sad as well.
review by . April 12, 2009
The Heathers are the darlings of Westerburg High, the "in" girls who hang out with the jocks, garnering the envy of all. But these ultra-snobby girls do what most 80's teens do, drink, party and make the oddballs feel bad. Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) is on the edge of the group, drawn to their cool chic but turned off by their childish and mean-spirited pranks. When Veronica finds herself attracted to Jason Dean (Christian Slater), bad things happen: the lead Heather "commits" suicide, two jocks …
review by . October 23, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: ......     Cons: ......     The Bottom Line: ......        Well, yeah, but, for sure, narly, FINISHED – that’s the best thing I can say about this movie.      Certainly there had to be some social comment deemed from this movie but I’ll be kicked in the fanny if I can figure it out. Stay away from psycho guys in school? Watch out for the new guy in the lunchroom that pulls a gun on you – …
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Robert Buchanan ()
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I'm a bibliophile, ailurophile, inveterate aggregator, dedicated middlebrow and anastrophizing syntax addict. My personality type is that of superlative INTJ.
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Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) has sacrificed everything in order to preserve her place in Westerburg High's most impenetrable social clique, the HEATHERS. As the only member of the group not named "Heather," Veronica has to work extra hard just to stay afloat. Going against her own morals and intelligence, Veronica succumbs to peer pressure on a daily basis, faking her delight in the humiliation of the school's less popular students. Bored of the frat parties and cow tipping so popular among her friends, Veronica's curiosity is peaked when a mysterious new guy named JD comes to town. The dark, brooding JD (Christian Slater at his best) observes Veronica among her pack in the lunchroom (where social hierarchy is most clearly displayed), concluding that Veronica is not a Heather at heart. When Veronica confides in JD that she hates her friends and wishes Heather #1 was dead, she never expects her words will have such dire consequences. Before she knows what's happening, JD is dragging Veronica on a killin...
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