This post by David at TMI. Click here for Part 2 with Eric and The IPC.
Our story goes . . . one particularly uneventful Saturday evening, on a particularly starry night, in the early weeks of 1981, two boys, having never met, watch the same episode of BBC’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Hours later, they both dream the same dream of being Arthur Dent (and totally making it with Trillian) when Zaphod Beeblebrox initiates the Heart of Gold’s Infinite Improbability Drive. When they awoke, their fears that the dream was real are found untrue. Their lives have not been altered and life goes on the same. Until one day, quite recently actually, each still unknowing the other exists, they arrive home and discover that their easy chairs have been turned into boxes of pristine 1980’s video cassettes. And their bags of Tostitos’ and jars of dip, fully functioning VCRs and remotes. They take to Twitter and it is here that the Eric from The IPC and David from That Moment In find each other and learn of their random, connected fates. A note in the box reads:
You must watch every 80s movie in this box. For each movie, a summary would be nice. Nothing crazy. Maybe something short. Your call. Then you must review the film! To do so, choose and describe these five moments: 1) The Best Moment 2) The stupidest Moment 3) That Special 80s Sexy Moment 4) The Now’s A Good Time to Take A Pee Break Moment and finally 5) The Most Cheesiest Silly Awesome Eighties Moment. Good luck. We are watching you.
Fourth out of the Box: Heathers (1988)
Inserting tape into VCR. Dimming lights. Pressing play. Fixing tracking . . .
So there was this thing back in the long-time-ago days when kids played croquet (that’s a game with sticks and a ball, not a French pastry) rather than take selfies that the newsy-folks called “The Cold War”, which was not about a border skirmish between Canada and the United States over ice-cream imports believe it or not, despite what Carl in History class said. Totally don’t listen to that guy, especially when Mr. Levine asks the class for the answer and you raise your hand thinking you will impress freckle-faced Suzy with your towering knowledge of American military conflicts and instead get accused of not doing the homework reading and told to stay after class for a little talk about diligence and smart-aleck-ery. Stupid Carl. High school sucked. Hey! That’s what Heathers is about! And the Cold War! Well, a kind of. Have you ever noticed all that red and blue everywhere in this scathing Ronald Reagan-era punch in the face at society and politics? A lot of symbolism going on in this flick. But I’ll skip the social studies lesson on the first MTV generation and get right to the goods. First, I gotta admit, it’d been about fifteen years since I’d seen this movie, and for that, the Shame Police were properly notified and I was ticketed and sentenced to 35 Boos and Hisses, a stern talking too plus a mandatory viewing of Pauly Shore’s Bio-Dome, which I thought was a bit excessive until I realized under current international law, that should have been a double feature with In The Army Now, so good for me. What was I talking about? Oh, yes. Heathers. Let’s begin.
The Best Moment:
Question. What do you get when you cross an angsty former geek chick now embedded in the rich and vicious hot girl club with a hunky nomadic sociopathic serial killer looking to off a bunch of high school ‘better thans’? I hope you said “Heathers” because seriously, there’s a number of clues that should have led you in that direction. Veronica (Winona Ryder) is the angsty former geek chick at Westerberg High School who is “best” friends with the “Heathers”, a group of three nasty, self-centered, wealthy and beautiful girls sharing the same name, except she actually hates them, most especially the leader, Heather “C” who experts in the field of personality and behavioral psychology clinically refer to as “What a f*cking bitch.” The hunk is rebel Jason “J. D.” Dean, newly arrived at the school, watching the girls from an observable distance in the cafeteria as they rule the room. When Veronica makes her way over to meet him, there’s a connection that’s like totally gonna last, for sure. And like on the windswept moonlight night when Trinitro and Toluene first met, these two are bound to make things go boom.
The Stupidest Moment:
Another question. What does a movie dripping with dark sarcasm and social commentary need the most? Buffoon police officers, you say? No. No it does not. A film as smart as this could and should have done something better with a shot at law enforcement, but instead goes to the well and offers two over-the-top cops that are both unfunny and unwatchable. When they stumble upon the murder scene of the high school’s star football players, who J. D. and Veronica have staged to look like a suicide over their inability to be gay in public, the cops seem to think they are in a Three (two?) Stooges movie. Ridiculous and painful, even if it is trying (waaaaay too hard) to be ironic.
The Special 80s Sexy Moment:
Okay, last question. I promise. Do I look like an internet pervert? Be honest. If you’re answer is no, thank you, your remark has been recorded and you may move on to the next Moment. If your answer is yes, then I’m having a few stern words with my stylist and that guy who promised to photoshop my profile pic to look “mucho manly” whatever that means. All the people in this film are meant to be high school kids. Winona Ryder was only 16 when filming. And yet the director still couldn’t resist this shot:
There were a lot of boys in the audience back then. Including me. It was a very memorable image. Still is. Except now I need a shower after looking at it. As an adult, fully mature(?) man, I’m gonna go with something a bit more sensible for my age as this film’s Special 80s Sexy Moment. It’s got everything! Beer posters, Sharper Image, and leotards! Lemme hear ya say, “Eighties!”
The Now’s A Good Time To Take A Pee Break Moment:
Question. (Dammit.) What the hell is the deal with Shannen Doherty? I’m not going go off on whether a person “has” what it takes to be a successful actor except that I am totally going to go off on what it takes to be successful actor. I don’t know Ms. Doherty and she may be a fine human being and a wonderful person with a charming and hugable way about her. Or not. Either way, as one of the Heathers, she plays the bulimic “nerdish” one constantly terrorized by Heather “C”. Frankly, I don’t care. She’s lifeless, drab, and irritating. Off to the pisser.
The music. All of it. Every single note, bar, chord and word. From beginning to end. This is 80s synth pop gone to levels the Flock of Seagulls went to bed, dreamed, and woke up in wet sheets about. The Pet Shop Boys in a collaboration with New Order and The Human League, in a blood-bound deal with Satan himself could not have achieved more of an 80s sound than what is the magnificence of the Heathers soundtrack. Here. Listen for yourself.
So there you have it. Heathers. It kicks solid arse. It’s biting, dark, witty, and surprisingly timeless, though it would never get made the same way nowadays. It bombed at theaters on release, but has become almost the standard for what a cult classic is defined as, generating legions of fan, even among critics. I love it. I wonder what Eric thinks . . .