Heathers is a super-smart black comedy about high school politics and teenage suicide that showcases a host of promising young talents.

Heathers is a super-smart black comedy about high school politics and teenage suicide that showcases a host of promising young talents.

Daniel Waters’ enormously clever screenplay blazes a trail of originality through the dead wood of the teen-comedy genre by focusing on the Heathers, the four prettiest and most popular girls at Westerburg High, [in Ohio,] three of whom are named Heather.

Setting the tone for the group is founder and queen bitch Heather No. 1 (Kim Walker), who has a devastating put-down or comeback for every occasion and could freeze even a heat-seeking missile in its tracks with her icy stare.

Heathers No. 2 and 3 (Lisanne Falk, Shannen Doherty) get off their own zingers once in a while, while the fourth nubile beauty, Veronica (Winona Ryder), goes along for the ride but seems to have a mind of her own. She also has eyes for a rebellious-looking school newcomer named Jason Dean (Christian Slater).

Goaded by the seductive J.D., Veronica half-heartedly goes along with an attempt to murder Heather No. 1, who has become irritating beyond endurance.

Ryder is utterly fetching and winning as an intelligent but seriously divided young lady. Oozing an insinuating sarcasm reminiscent of Jack Nicholson, Slater has what it takes to make J.D. both alluring and dangerous. The three Heathers look like they’ve spent their lives practicing putdowns.

Heathers

Production

New World. Dir Michael Lehmann; Producer Denise Di Novi; Screenplay Daniel Waters; Camera Francis Kenny; Editor Norman Hollyn; Music David Newman Art Dir Jon Hutman

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1989. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Winona Ryder Christian Slater Shannen Doherty Lisanne Falk Kim Walker Penelope Milford

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more