Heathers (THX/SE)
Starz / Anchor Bay // R // $19.99 // September 25, 2001
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted October 1, 2001
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The Movie:

I never really liked high school at all. Although I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, sitting there five days a week and going over the same topics in classes really never gained my interest in the least. Although after I graduated it I thought I'd look back on it fondly after a while. I'm still waiting for that point to happen. College was so much better.

A rather bleak look at the landscape of high school, "Heathers" has become a cult phenomenon since its release and really, one of only two successes of director Michael Lehman ("Hudson Hawk", "Truth About Cats & Dogs"). Starring Winona Ryder as Veronica Sawyer, the film revolves around Veronica and her fellow clique members the Heathers (Shannen Doherty, Lisanne Falk, and Kim Walker). She begins to despise their mean-spirited ways as the film goes along.

She meets up with JD (Christian Slater), the rebel who catches her eye from the back of the lunchroom. Two football players try to give him a scare and he responds by firing blanks from a real gun. Soon enough, Veronica and JD are spending more and more time together - soon enough, Heather 1 is killed and the two disguise it to make it look like she committed suicide.

Although the film's dialogue still seems rather over-the-top, it's actually quite funny and delivered perfectly by the film's cast. Some of the darker moments may offend some people, but those who have been in high school in recent years will likely find the satire of the high school experience amusing. The performances also are pitch-perfect, especially Ryder. Like the dark dialogue or not, the cast really seemed to have picked up on the tone exceptionally well and deliver it in the best, sharpest way possible.

It's not without some minor flaws, but the screenplay by Daniel Waters delivers such witty and quick dialogue that "Heathers" flies by quickly. Not a film that would get made today in a period where many teen films are edited down to PG-13, "Heathers" still stands out as a strong dark comedy years later.


VIDEO: Anchor Bay presents "Heathers" in a new THX approved 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen edition. The film generally looked rather good, except for a few minor concerns here and there. Sharpness and detail varied somewhat throughout the film - most of the film looked respectably sharp, but never truly well-defined. On the other hand, it didn't look particularly soft, either. The film's look is probably due to the picture's small budget.

Aside from the softness, there weren't too many other concerns. I didn't see any pixelation, but there were a few minor instances of edge enhancement; these problems didn't really make the viewing experience suffer much. Print flaws were actually few and far between - I did notice some minor grain in a few sequences, but I hardly saw any speckles and didn't see anything beyond that such as marks or scratches.

Colors still appeared very strong and nicely saturated, while flesh tones appeared accurate and natural. Not a remarkable transfer, but still very nice and often enjoyable.

SOUND: "Heathers" is given a new Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation for this release. The track was done by Chace Digital Stereo, who has also worked on quite a few other Anchor Bay titles, as well ("Army Of Darkness", etc). The film is mainly dialogue-driven, so there's really not a great deal going on with the surround use of the new 5.1 presentation. The music does open up things a bit and come nicely from the rear speakers, but the score does sound rather dated at this point. There's little or nothing dynamic about the sound, but the music still sounded crisp and enjoyable, while dialogue came across clearly. Not a remarkable new 5.1 presentation, but still fine.

MENUS:: The main menu is non-animated and fairly basic, but has the score behind it.


Commentary: This is a terrific commentary from director Michael Lehmann, producer Denise Di Novi, and writer Daniel Waters. The three seem to have a great old time looking back at their efforts and recalling some of the stories that happened during filming. The three have a good sense of humor about the film's shortcomings in terms of production value and occasionally discuss what they may have done different had they been able to do it again. There's some great discussion of the film's themes and working with the performers during their early years. A track that's well worth a listen.

Swatch Dogs and Diet Coke Heads: This is a new 30 minute documentary that offers up new interviews with both the cast and crew. Both sides really do a fine job discussing and analyzing their thoughts about the film's topics and issues and also share some fun stories about what happened during filming. I found Ryder's comments especially interesting, but everyone really has a lot to share. It's too bad that the actors didn't get to do their own commentary track, since it appears as if they've got a lot to say about their experiences beyond what they're able to share in the time they have here.

Original Ending: The original ending is shown in script form.

Also: Bios, trailer, THX Optimode Test.

Final Thoughts: "Heathers" does have some flaws, but the performances are terrific and there's some wonderful one-liners throughout the picture. Anchor Bay does a very fine job with this new DVD edition, which offers enjoyable audio/video quality and a couple of great supplements. Not for everyone, but fans will enjoy.

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