Heathers: It's Not Funny, Accidently

Heathers: It's Not Funny, Accidently

When I was a kid, I really liked Kuffs. And while there are myriad reasons why – including the fact that the bad guy in that film wore a shirt with a distorted picture of his own visage – Christian Slater was defined for me in that performance. His nasally, almost Jack Nicholson like speech and almost impressive acting chops were on full display. All of that, however, was three years after he and Winona Rider starred in a weirdo comedy centered on the killing of some horrendous classmates. And while I’d probably be able to watch Rider read a menu for an hour and a half, I was pretty distracted by the end of Heathers.

Just a year after Beetlejuice Rider would further cash in on the perception of her as some deep, dark, brooding actress. It was a fitting role to take and probably required a bit of guts as well considering the fact that she was then to be relegated to downer characters throughout the rest of her career. But for Slater, Heathers would be one of his earlier, semi-serious roles. It’s difficult to fully grasp the import – or lack there of – of this flick because of our removal from the time that it was released, though.

This was prior to Columbine, obviously. But there was still the aire of paranoia floating around in the States. George Bush had just been elected, cementing a decade plus of Republican dominated politics in the country. Considering that there was a great deal of disappointment in that man’s ability to govern affectively, the setting of Heathers – some made up, affluent Ohio town – seemed an appropriate one for teen displeasure. Rider’s character, while momentarily sane, finds the Slater character an intriguing miscreant. He’s bounced around from town to town with his wealthy, construction firm owning father, who has granted his son a motorcycle of all things.

There aren’t any poor folks about, just the socially challenged which Rider’s character maintains a decent amount of sympathy for even as she’s engulfed in a clique of uppity chicks at school – the Heathers. Eventually, we get down to the killing with Rider’s character becoming immediately dissatisfied while Slater’s insanity seems to grow more wild as he plots a few other capers. There’s some homophobia tossed in, but what’s most surprising about all of this is the fact that while murders don’t seem problematic to display to the audience, everyone keeps their clothes on. That’s untoward. Look at the folks running around – even Shannen Doherty on brink of being legal, would have made good nudie fodder.

I suppose, though, that all of that’s a testament to the creepy plot executed throughout the film. It’s not too removed from any high school out there – apart from the affluence and pervasive murder/suicides. While Heathers has become a footnote in all of the principal actor’s careers, it remains an interesting entry in each filmography that it graces. The appreciation surrounding this cult flick even got to the point where a sequel was being hashed out a few years back – we’re still waiting.