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'Heathers' Celebrates 20 Years of Mean

5 Jun, 2008 By: Billy Gil


“What's your damage, Heather?” That line may not have had staying power, but without it, we would never have had “As if!,” and we probably wouldn't have had “Honest to blog?”

Confused? The line comes from the mother of all mean-teen comedies, Heathers. It's been nearly 20 years since the film sauntered into theaters in 1989, and now Anchor Bay Entertainment is re-releasing it on a “20th High School Reunion Edition” two-DVD set July 1 at $19.97.

Daniel Waters said he was “fresh off the bus from Indiana” when he wrote Heathers, about a popular girl named Veronica (played by Winona Ryder) who inadvertently becomes involved in a series of murders. Waters said his na?vet? in writing his first script was what allowed him to go where no high-school film had gone before.

“It has become a seminal movie as far as really allowing people to take a different look at teenagers in high school and go much darker, and allow them to speak more intelligently,” Waters said. “Unfortunately people seem to be cashing in more than me, including my own brother (Mean Girls director Mark Waters).”

Waters said this in jest, likening his film to the goth rock band Joy Division, whereas Mean Girls is like Joy Division's sunnier (but still excellent) second incarnation, New Order. From Jawbreaker to Clueless to Juno, teen films have continued to tread where Heathers' heels first walked.

“I think films have almost gone too far in imitating Heathers,” Waters said. “I could actually stand to see more homages to John Hughes films. I think we've gotten so harsh. I miss those kind of John Hughes movies that made you feel all safe and warm inside.”

Meanwhile, included on the upcoming DVD release of Heathers is a DVD-ROM feature with the script of the original ending to Heathers, in which Westerberg High is blown up, and a there's a big prom scene in heaven with all of the dead characters from the film dancing to a Simple Minds song.

“I think a lot of people rightfully got on my case about the ending being a little too sweet and wrapping it up in a happy way,” Waters said. “Certainly a lot of critics would have been happier with it. I even wrote a darker ending that even [director] Michael Lehmann rejected.”

The DVD also includes a commentary with Waters, Lehmann and producer Denise Di Novi; the original DVD making-of documentary, “Swatch Dogs and Diet Coke Heads”; the theatrical trailer; and a new “Return to Westerburg High” documentary, featuring new interviews with Waters, Lehmann and Di Novi.

“We really had perspective now that we didn't have [when we made the first documentary featurette],” Waters said. “I know personally the first time I did an interview for the DVD, I was made to feel very guilty that I hadn't made another movie like Heathers. Now with the current climate, I feel like I was lucky to have made that one. Now it's instead like, how did you even get that made in the first place?”

Waters, who also has served as a script doctor on several pictures, has directed his second film, the saucy comedy Sex and Death 101, which also stars Winona Ryder. The film hits DVD ($29.98) from Anchor Bay the same day as Heathers: 20th High School Reunion Edition.

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