Epic teen flicks reigned supreme during the 1980s as movies such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the Breakfast Club, and Pretty in Pink drew big audiences to theaters. However, the 1988 cult film, Heathers, is - in my humble opinion - the best teen flick of the generation, and arguably, one of the greatest social satires of all time. The timeless film has even inspired an Off-Broadway Musical, which is currently packing in audiences in New York.
Set in the seemingly idyllic town of Sherwood, Ohio, the film chronicles the struggles of Veronica (Winona Ryder), a newly-minted member of the popular Heathers clique at fictional Westerburg High School. Veronica quickly becomes disenfranchised with the group's nefarious leader - Heather Chandler - whom she often wishes were dead and begins to question why she became a member of such a heartless and idiotic clique in the first place.
The Heathers are a ruthless group that gets off on pranking the school's most vulnerable students. They make the social clique in 2004's Mean Girls look silly by comparison. Additionally, their use of the shortened phrase "So Very" predicted truncated, present-day vernacular, including "Whatves," "Ridic," and "Totes."
Enter Christian Slater as the mysterious and brooding, J.D., a character that embodies every loner stereotype. He's moved around a lot, dresses in black, wears earrings and a trench coat, rides a motorcycle, and is well read. He's also a sadistic sociopath with a love of guns and explosives. J.D. catches Veronica's eye in the school cafeteria, and they bond over their loathing of the brutally cruel, popular crowd.
The pair engages in a torrid affair and ends up murdering the leader of the Heathers' clique. When Heather Chandler meets her demise, J.D. and Veronica set about concocting a forged suicide note that makes Heather seem more intelligent and thoughtful than she actually was.
This pattern repeats itself several times throughout the film; in each instance, the handling of the staged suicides by the media, classmates, parents, and school faculty is used to highlight how shallow, callous, short sighted, vapid, and self-serving people can be. Additionally, the film deftly tackles homophobia, religiosity, parenting, consumerism, social class, body image, group think, date rape, media sensationalism, and a myriad of other issues plaguing the postmodern world.
Biting, thought provoking, timeless, and darkly hilarious, Heathers captured the essence and nuances of American life.
Style wise, the film features some of the wildest 1980s fashions captured on celluloid. Winona Ryder's character steals (no pun intended) the show with a range of hats, dresses, blazers, and skirts. She even sports a monocle, which looks stylishly whimsical with her curly mane. The other female characters' styles were memorable as well. They wore an assortment of patterned blazers, short sets, stripped shirts, and accessories, such as suspenders and high-waist belts, that will provide a wealth of style ideas.
Heathers stars Winona Ryder, Christian Slater, Beverly Hills 90210's Shannen Doherty, and the late Kim Walker.