LAMB Movie of the Month Review: Heathers [1988]

Heathers [1988]

Heathers [1988]
Director: Michael Lehmann
Genre: Comedy
Starring: Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty
Runtime:ย 103 minutes

I was pleased to see Heathers selected as the LAMB Movie of the Month. This is a film that has been on my must-see list for a while now, and its nomination gave me validation to bump it up in the queue and finally sit down to tackle this cult hit / dark comedy.

The film gets its name from a high school clique of popular/rich girls that all share the first name of Heather. They are cruel to everyone in school, and despised by most. Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) is a classmate of theirs who associates with them to maintain her popular status. Veronica is generally more caring than her associates, but is forced to act like them in order to remain “friends”.

Heathers [1988]

Things get interesting at school when Jason Dean (Christian Slater) shows up. J.D. is a rebel, a new guy who doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything. Naturally, Veronica finds him to be fascinating, and the two hit it off. As Veronica is disgusted with her “friends”, she works with J.D. to concoct a plan to get rid of them one-by-one. This plan is taken to another level, however, when J.D. poisons the lead Heather (Kim Walker), killing her and leaving a note behind to frame it as a suicide. This is only the beginning of what soons become J.D.’s rampage, one that Veronica struggles to stay away from.

Going into Heathers, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it was a dark comedy (which I generally love) and that it starred Christian Slater in his breakthrough role. What I didn’t expect was non-stop snappy dialogue that had me in hysterics, and the very dark suicide subject matter. In this regard, I loved what the film had to offer.

Heathers [1988]

On the other hand, there was one thing that nearly ruined the movie for me: Christian f’n Slater. I am not too familiar with his work, having only seen him in True Romance, but he was beyond grating as James Dean. Slater’s godawful Jack Nicholson impression is just terrible, and I could not help thinking as such every time he appeared on screen. Based on this performance, it blows my mind that he was once considered a heartthrob.

If J.D.’s role were given to a more competent actor, I wholeheartedly believe that Heathers would rank among my favorite comedies. As such, while I enjoyed the film, I did not fall in love with it like I wanted to. There’s so much to like, especially the witty dialogue and Winona Ryder’s fun performance, but Slater really drags the film down. Still, it’s easy to see why this is a cult hit, and it’s worth seeing regardless.


30 thoughts on “LAMB Movie of the Month Review: Heathers [1988]

  1. Sam Fragoso says:

    The podcast goes up tomorrow morning, and yours truly is on it – be sure to check it out when you get the chance.

    I may or may not agree with your opinion on the film ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. maroon5gurl88 says:

    I love Heathers! Without Heathers we’d have no Mean Girls although Heathers goes into territory Mean Girls would NEVER touch! The one-liners are priceless and who didn’t love Christian Slater as the romantic sociopath

    • Eric says:

      Ah, I have never actually seen Mean Girls. I should probably fix that.

      And you can count me in as someone who didn’t love Christian Slater in this movie. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Pete says:

    Haven’t seen it in a long while but I remember I used to really like Christian Slater in it. I’d be interested to see what you think of Pump up the Volume or Kuffs, two other Slater-starrers. But I guess you might give them a miss…

    • Eric says:

      I might give them a chance someday. I must admit I am a little curious to see if I could handle Slater in other roles. It has been years since I saw True Romance, but I don’t remember being bothered by him in that. Perhaps Heathers was just him at his most extreme…?

  4. The Heretic says:

    Heathers wasn’t too bad, you get to watch Slater do his best Jack Nicholson impersonation throughout the film. I liked Gleaming The Cube and Beetlejuice more than this film.

  5. VictorsMovieReviews says:

    The over-the-top Jack Nicholson impression was a choice made by both the director and Slater, and was done purposely. It also hurt Slater’s career because people couldn’t see past it for a while.

    If you want to see a good Slater film where you see why he was considered a heartthrob and good actor, then take a look at “Pump Up the Volume”.

    • Eric says:

      I figured the impression was too ridiculous to have not been done on purpose, but it was still painful to watch. Interesting how it ended up hurting Slater’s career. Thanks for the recommendation on Pump Up the Volume — that’s two suggestions for it already, so I will probably give it a shot.

  6. ruth says:

    I saw this ages ago and I think I enjoyed it, can’t remember much of the details, ahah. Not much of a fan of Slater’s work either, though much to my surprise I actually enjoyed Untamed Heart and Bed of Roses, but maybe because of the female leads.

  7. The Vern says:

    Nice review. I agree with your thoughts about Slater’s choice of dialouge but still thought he put in a good performance. He had the right tone of being sarcastic and yet very menacing at the same time.

    • Eric says:

      Hey Vern, thanks for the comment. Slater’s performance definitely was sarcastic, and he fit in well with the “bad boy” vibe. It’s too bad that he had to imp Jack Nicholson so much, as that was what killed it for me.

  8. sati says:

    Great review! I haven’t seen this one yet, but I too don’t really like Slater, I think the only movie I liked him in was Very Bad Things.

  9. gotounknown says:

    I have to agree with the rest here, this movie really takes me back ๐Ÿ˜€ ! A saw it a few times ages ago; what I loved most was the freaky and mean girls and the “evil” story. Slater’s never been a fav, except True Romance where he was lucky to have a script that suited him ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Eric says:

      Haha, glad to hear I’m not alone on not caring for Slater. This is definitely a fun movie even with his ridiculous performance.

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