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Anchor Bay presents
Heathers (1989)

"F--- me gently with a chain saw."
- Heather Chandler (Kim Walker)

Review By: Robert Mandel   
Published: May 02, 2000

Stars: Christian Slater, Winona Ryder
Other Stars: Shannen Doherty, Kim Walker, Lisanne Falk
Director: Michael Lehmann

MPAA Rating: R
Run Time: 01h:42m:00s
Release Date: March 30, 1999
UPC: 013131067293
Genre: black comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A A-B+C D+

DVD Review

This line certainly sums up the effect this outrageous satire has upon the viewer. It's funny how so little and so much changes over time. Here are Winona Ryder (Veronica Sawyer) and Christian Slater (Jason Dean) in the roles that defined them as the up and coming, hip actors of my generation. Man, they look so young (or, is that "Man, am I getting old!") Anyway, here lies the epitome of ALL teen angst wrapped into a dark, edgy film that goes so far beyond normal boundaries that it's little wonder that my friends and I watched this film over and over, wearing it as an emblem of our restlessness with the status quo. Heathers still makes me laugh out loud. Yet, on the heels of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, I can't help but feel the knot of guilt in my stomach for laughing at a film that so closely resembles that rampage. Forget Basketball Diaries, watching this will make your hackles rise.

Before I go any further however, understand that in my humble opinion this movie, or any other, or any video game, book, musician, song, news program, or TV show is NOT in any way responsible for Columbine or any other school shootings. People kill people (usually with guns, but let's not go there). Does the violence that surrounds our children in everything that they see, read, hear help anesthetize them to actual violence? Yes and no. Hey, after I saw Dawn of the Dead for the first time (at 17) I felt I could watch anything—well, any FAKE gore handed to me on a silver nitrate platter. But I've got to tell you, I have never watched more than the original Faces of Death video, and I had a hard time watching that. Hell, I had a hard time working in the E.R. And believe you me, I have seen my share of violence on TV and at the theater, and have played "Doom" until I was nauseous. Sometimes evil simply manifests itself in the most unlikely of places, in the most unlikely of packages. On the Internet Movie Database (IMDB), a teen reviewer claims that Heathers changed their life and that all teens should see this film. Perhaps, but not everybody gets it. You know what I mean? But I digress.

Heathers uses croquet as a metaphor for the game that teenagers play, whereby each player's character is manifested in how they play the game (clean, dirty, not to lose, kindly, etc). The croquet field represents the social battlefield juxtaposed against a civilized suburban backdrop.

But more than that, Heathers is a dark comedy that fantasizes the answers to the hypothetical question that legions of have-nots have been asking since high school time immemorial: How might I gain revenge on those chicks with their noses stuck to the ceilings and jocks with their namesakes wound so tightly up their asses they were forced to walk so funny, er, cool down the hallway as if they owned the place?

Does Heathers go too far? Perhaps. I mean teen suicide, real or fake, is not normally considered comedic material. Ten years ago I would have said to lighten up, don't take it so seriously. Hell, two weeks ago I might not have thought twice about it. I don't think Michael Lehman (director) or Daniel Waters (writer) could have even dreamt of what has happened at our nation's schools over the last few years, let alone at Columbine. Time and place however, do have an effect on the subject matter. But, really, when you boil it down it's important to remember that this is satire, and that satire requires a certain amount of exaggeration to make its point From tragedy stems comedy—that's satire—invented by the Greeks and perfected by Jonathon Swift (take a gander some time at A Modest Proposal and the hubbub that caused). But really, it's just a movie. Like all other off color films, it's not suitable for all audiences. But even as it makes light in its darkness, as a true satire does, it attempts to assume SOME kind of moral base.
"You think you're a rebel? You're not a rebel; you're psychotic!"
Jason Dean: "You say toe-may-to, I say ta-mah-to"

You gotta love it—Or not.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: From what I had read at other sites, and being a bit skeptical about the quality of Anchor Bay's work on other disks, my expectations were low. It was to my surprise however, that outside of the occasional jittering and aliasing the film appeared on the 45" screen to be pretty crisp, with colors deep and vibrant. This is a matted 1:85 presentation, not 16:9 enhanced, which is a shame.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Artisan only seems to spend the money on the audio mixes for new releases, ignoring catalogue titles. Despite my dislike for this movie, all films—an action film in particular—calls, no begs for a decent 5.1 mix. This 2.0 mix is adequate, with little rear action, and a weak soundstage. The dialogue is generally understandable.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
0 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The disk contains scene access and a theatrical trailer, and what seems to me the silliest "featurette" to date (First Blood's is the most stupid): there are maybe two minutes of post-release interview snippets with Winona and Christian along with clips from Beetlejuice and Name of the Rose that really have nothing to do with Heathers, sandwiched between two extended scenes from the movie, the latter being almost 6 minutes long! What was this about? I actually thought they had cut back to the movie track until I realized the scene was full frame! Truly bizarre!!

Extras Grade: D+


Final Comments

This is one of those borderline disks you either have to own because you can't stand not to have this movie in your collection, or won't buy because it resides closer to VHS quality in presentation (not 16:9 enhanced) and lack of extras. Although this still remains dear to my heart as the rallying cry to defeat Heathers whereever they may exist, this film MAY BE OFFENSIVE to some. Definitely worth a rent if you haven't seen it before (what planet haveyou been vacationing on) or for a while like me.


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