Did You Know?
Two stars died young, in ways which were eerily prophesied by the script. Jeremy Applegate, whose character prays he will never commit suicide, shot himself on March 23, 2000. Kim Walker, whose character asks "Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?", died of a brain tumor on March 6, 2001.
Christian Slater has stated that his performance was heavily inspired by Jack Nicholson. He claims that he wrote a letter to Nicholson asking him to watch the film but did not receive an answer.
Brad Pitt auditioned for the role of J.D. He was rejected because he was considered "too nice."
The role of Heather McNamara was originally offered to 17-year-old Heather Graham. Heather's parents refused to let her take the role because of the dark subject matter.
Originally, the book that suicidal students supposedly underline "meaningful" passages from was "The Catcher in the Rye". The producers could not get permission from J.D. Salinger to use the book. It was changed to "Moby Dick" because Herman Melville's works are in the public domain.
This is considered one of the most controversial movies ever made, certainly one of the most controversial about the high school experience. When it was released, detractors thought it was making fun of suicide. Now it's controversial because of its uncomfortable similarity to so many school shootings.
The role of Veronica was intended for Jennifer Connelly who turned it down.
Friends Veronica Sawyer and Betty Finn are named after other fictional friends Veronica and Betty from the comic strip "Archie", and Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
Shannen Doherty had problems saying the profanities in the script because of her conservative upbringing. She couldn't keep a straight face. As a result, she smirks when she says, "Veronica, why are you pulling my dick?"
The name Heather is said 90 times throughout the film.
Daniel Waters originally wanted Stanley Kubrick to direct, citing that "He's the only one that can get away with a 3 hour movie."
Christian Slater and Winona Ryder dated during the filming and promotion of this film.
The same week Winona Ryder received the script, a student from her high school committed suicide, which only inspired her more to do the film.
Ranked at #5 on Entertainment Weekly's 50 Best High School Movies (2006)
Winona Ryder's agent begged her not to be in the movie, stating her "career would be over."
In 2014, a musical theater adaptation of Heathers opened at the off-Broadway theater New World Stages. In a completely unrelated coincidence, the movie had been released by a film production company called New World Pictures. The play is tenatively set to appear on Broadway in 2016.
Winona Ryder and Glenn Shadix both appeared in Beetlejuice (1988).
With its shared themes of vicious girl cliques and murderous outcasts getting revenge, the film was described by many critics as an 80s version of Carrie (1976).
This film is the basis for the popular Off-Broadway musical of the same name, which is scheduled to run on Broadway in 2015.
Lisanne Falk lied about her age to get cast. She claimed to be 18 years old at the time of filming. In reality, she was 23.
Ironically, Kim Walker, who played the leader of the Heathers, Heather Chandler, was dating Christian Slater while they were filming Heathers. Also ironically, according to Christian Slater anyway, Slater dumped Walker so that he could date Winona Ryder. Ryder doesn't remember actually dating him though.
Jim Carrey, Judd Nelson and Jason Bateman were considered for the role of J.D.
Kim Walker and Lisanne Falk both appeared in Say Anything... (1989).
Several characters sardonically use the phrase "Oh, the humanity." This phrase was first coined by the American radio reporter Herbert O. Morrison during his May 6, 1937, on-the-spot description of the explosion of the Hindenburg in New Jersey. Morrison started his broadcast with a calm report of the zeppelin starting to dock after its transatlantic flight, but he quickly became panicked and horrified as he started to relay the disaster: "It's starting to rain again; it's-the rain has slacked up a little bit. The back motors of the ship are just holding it just, just enough to keep it from-It burst into flames! It burst into flames, and it's falling, it's crashing! Watch it, watch it! Get out of the way! . . . It's fire-and it's crashing! It's crashing terrible! Oh, my, get out of the way, please! It's burning and bursting into flames, and the-and it's falling on the mooring-mast and all the folks agree that this is terrible, this is one of the worst catastrophes in the world. . . . It's-it's-it's the flames . . . oh, four- or five-hundred feet into the sky and it ... it's a terrific crash, ladies and gentlemen. It's smoke, and it's flames now ... and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring-mast. Oh, the humanity and all the passengers screaming around here. . . . Honest, it's just laying there, a mass of smoking wreckage. Ah! And everybody can hardly breathe and talk, and the screaming. . . . Honest: I-I can hardly breathe. I-I'm going to step inside where I cannot see it. Charlie, that's terrible. Ah, ah-I can't. I, listen, folks, I-I'm gonna have to stop for a minute because I've lost my voice. This is the worst thing I've ever witnessed."
As noted in a 20 Apr 1989 Rolling Stone article, writer Daniel Waters began his first screenplay, Heathers, sometime after his 1985 move to Los Angeles, CA. At the time, he was a twenty-three-year-old video store clerk with ambitions to write a blockbuster teen film. According to the 23 Mar 1989 LAT, Waters based the script on the high school experiences of his sister and her friends, as well as a chapter about the cultivation of female identity in Simone de Beauvoir's 1949 book, The Second Sex. He also told LAT that he had grown tired of Hollywood's romanticization of suicide, and that he believed most people actually harbor an "ultimate fantasy" of attending their own funeral.
The first draft of the screenplay was 200 pages long and was considerably more morbid than the shooting script. Referring to the 1976 Martin Scorsese picture Taxi Driver (see entry), Waters reportedly wrote the lead character, "Veronica," as "the female Travis Bickle," who sought uncompromising vengeance against her rivals. The original Heathers screenplay ended with Veronica blowing herself up in an act of suicide, then attending her high school prom in heaven, with all of her victims in attendance.
According to 14 Sep 1988 DV production charts, principal photography began in July, 1988. Advance screenings of the picture, as well as its late Jan 1989 premiere at the U.S. Film Festival, provoked tremendous controversy, as noted in the 23 Mar 1989 LAT and the 20 Apr 1989 Rolling Stone, with critics arguing that the narrative might encourage youths to commit suicide. Research studies at the time demonstrated a connection between the depiction of suicide in mass media and an upswing in teenage suicide. However, psychologists generally defended Heathers, maintaining that its story helped teens understand that cruelty is omnipresent among adolescents, and self-indulgent, violent behavior is unacceptable.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points:
The original screenplay had a different ending in which Veronica kills J.D. by shooting him and then straps the bomb (a much larger and more complicated piece of equipment, described as being "a cylinder as large as a television set") to herself, blowing up as J.D. does in the final ending. What is placed in the final ending as JD's boiler-room speech about "imagine I blew up the school, imagine I blew up all the schools" is contained in a suicide note found in Veronica's locker by Heather McNamara and Betty Finn. The movie ends with an eerie prom sequence set in Heaven, tying into JD's assertion that the only place everyone will truly get along is in Heaven. The prom begins with students dancing within their social cliques, then switching partners in odd pairings like metalheads dancing with Heathers and one of the murdered jocks getting his prom picture taken with a tipped cow; the punch being served is the drain cleaner used in the first murder scene, and "Dumptruck" is singing onstage as the entertainment for the evening. This was intended to be shot but the studio thought it was too dark for the target teenage crowd and opted for a lighter ending.
J.D. tricks Veronica into killing the jocks by claiming to use "ich luge" bullets, which he claims only pierce the skin. "Ich lüge" is German for "I lie" or "I'm lying".
One alternate ending had Martha Dumptruck stabbing Veronica. Martha shouts "Fuck you, Heather!" Veronica, lying on the ground with a knife in her stomach, replies "My name's not Heather! My name's not Heather!"
Winona Ryder claims that she has many favorite moments from the film. The one that usually comes to mind is when she is walking up the hill after seeing JD in the cow-tipping scene. In the background, just barely visible, Heather McNamara is being date raped by one of the jocks. Ryder says the scene is so subversive and dark that once you notice it, you can't stop thinking about it.
Winona Ryder claims that this is her favorite movie. She also says that she gets asked about Heathers 2 more than anything else, although a sequel seems unlikely. The filmmakers have suggested that they would like to do the project. One of the plot lines includes JD being a CIA agent before his death. The CIA would then blackmail Veronica and the story would end with Veronica assassinating the President.
The film was a reunion of sorts for Little House on the Prairie (1974) alumns Patrick Labyorteaux and Shannon Doherty.
Veronica's hairstyle constantly changes, often between shots (bangs/no bangs).
Veronica's weight fluctuates from scene to scene. Her hair also changes length and color as the film progresses.
Incorrectly regarded as goofs:
Moby Dick does not contain the word "Eskimo" in that spelling, but does contain "Esquimaux" which is the French Canadian spelling.
When Martha Dumptruck is alone in the gym drinking her soda through a straw, we see through the bottom that she finishes it all. She then spills the finished soda on the front of her shirt.
When Veronica comes out of the Snappy Snack Shack with the large Slushee that JD just bought for her, she waves it around and holds it with a bent wrist in a way she couldn't possibly do if it were almost full of a heavy liquid (revealing that the cup is actually empty).
The goof items below may give away important plot points.
After Veronica and Jason shoot Kurt and Ram, they each put the wrong gun in the wrong hand, unless Kurt and Ram were meant to look as though they each shot themselves, rather than each other.
When Veronica fakes hanging herself in her bedroom, she's suspended between her bed and the fireplace when J.D. comes in the room, but when she unties her sheet harness she falls onto her bed. She should have fallen on the floor in front of the fireplace.
During Heather Chandler's funeral the corpse is breathing: the roses she's holding rise and fall with every breath.
The whole boiler room sequence - cut with the footage of the pep rally - takes much more than the time which is set on the bomb, which is about 2:15. At 1:40 and ticking down, both fight for the possession of the gun and JD kisses Veronica. When she repossesses the gun, she walks by the bomb and it says :57 seconds. When Veronica is pointing the gun at Jason, you can see that there are 42 seconds until the bomb blows up. But, when she asks him how to stop it a few seconds later, it is still on 42 seconds. They have a conversation which lasts about one minute, yet the clock advances only 12 seconds to :30 seconds. However, the final 30 seconds takes about that much screen time.
At the end of the movie, when JD is about to blow himself up in front of the school, JD and Veronica are talking in a normal tone of voice, and he seems to be standing only a few feet away from her, to her left. In the next shot, the camera pans a shot of the front of the school, and JD is right in front of Veronica, and 100 feet or more away from her.
(at around 1h 17 mins) Veronica lies on her bed and the alarm clock on the nightstand reads about 6:59. Later, JD sneaks into the bedroom, but when he arrives, the clock clearly reads 6:55. This turns out to have been a dream, but the dream offers no explanation for why the clock turned back 4 minutes.
When JD shoots Ram, he shoots him in the throat. Ram has a bullet wound in his throat when Veronica is kneeling beside him. Then when the cop finds him, the bullet wound is now in the middle of his chest, he has blood coming out of his mouth, and his throat is unharmed.
Right after Heather Duke and Heather McNamara drop in on Veronica and Betty Finn playing croquet, Veronica talks to her parents about the suicides. She still has a croquet mallet in her hand, so little time can have passed. Heather Duke rushes in with a shopping bag, and tells Veronica that while at the mall they heard about Martha Dumptruck's suicide attempt. But Heather Duke had just left Veronica's house - there wasn't enough time for these events to happen.
At Kurt and Ram's funeral, Ram, laying in his coffin, is breathing. (The football on his chest is moving up and down.)
Near the end of the film, after Veronica fakes her suicide, school buses outside of Westerburg High say Sherwood instead of Westerburg.
Veronica Sawyer: If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn't be a human being. You'd be a game-show host.
Heather Chandler: Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw. Do I look like Mother Teresa?
J.D.: Greetings and salutations... you a Heather?
Veronica Sawyer: No, I'm a Veronica... Sawyer.
Veronica's Mom: When teenagers complain that they want to be treated like human beings, it's usually because they are being treated like human beings.
Veronica Sawyer: Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count.
J.D.: Chaos is what killed the dinosaurs, darling
Heather Duke: Veronica, you look like hell.
Veronica Sawyer: Yeah? I just got back.
Veronica Sawyer: Suicide gave Heather depth, Kurt a soul, and Ram a brain. I don't know what it's given me, but I have no control over myself when I'm with J.D. Are we going to prom or to hell?
Kurt's Dad: My son's a homosexual, and I love him. I love my dead gay son.
J.D.: Wonder how he'd react if his son had a limp wrist with a pulse.
Veronica Sawyer: [writing in diary] Betty Finn was a true friend and I sold her out for a bunch of Swatch dogs and Diet Coke heads. Killing Heather would be like offing the wicked witch of the west... wait east. West! God! I sound like a fucking psycho.
Heather Duke: I prayed for the death of Heather Chandler many times and I felt bad everytime I did it but I kept doing it anyway. Now I know you understood everything. Praise Jesus, Hallelujah.
J.D.: People will look at the ashes of Westerburg and say, "Now there's a school that self-destructed, not because society didn't care, but because the school was society." Now that's deep.
Veronica Sawyer: All we want is to be treated like human beings, not to be experimented on like guinea pigs or patronized like bunny rabbits.
Veronica's Dad: I don't patronize bunny rabbits.
J.D.: Football season is over, Veronica. Kurt and Ram had nothing left to offer the school except date rapes and AIDS jokes.
Veronica Sawyer: What is your damage, Heather?
Veronica Sawyer: This may seem like a really stupid question...
J.D.: There *are* no stupid questions.
Veronica Sawyer: You inherit 5 million dollars the same day aliens land on the earth and say they're going to blow it up in 2 days. What do you do?
J.D.: That's the stupidest question I've ever heard.
J.D.: I like it. It's got that what-a-cruel-world-let's-toss-ourselves-in-the-abyss type ambience.
Veronica Sawyer: You know what I want?
Veronica Sawyer: Cool guys like you out of my life.
Veronica Sawyer: Dear Diary: Heather told me she teaches people "real life." She said, real life sucks losers dry. You want to fuck with the eagles, you have to learn to fly. I said, so, you teach people how to spread their wings and fly? She said, yes. I said, you're beautiful.
Veronica Sawyer: I just killed my best friend.
J.D.: And your worst enemy.
Veronica Sawyer: Same difference.
J.D.: The only place different social types can genuinely get along with each other is in heaven.
Kurt Kelly: Hey Ram, doesn't this cafeteria have a "No Fags Allowed" rule?
J.D.: Well they, uh, seem to have an open door policy for assholes though, don't they?
Kurt Kelly: What did you say, dickhead?
J.D.: [He sighs, stands, and pulls out a gun] I'll repeat myself.
[He shoots Kurt and Ram]
Veronica Sawyer: Heather, my love, there's a new sheriff in town.
Heather McNamara: Suicide is a private thing.
Veronica Sawyer: You're throwing your life away to become a statistic on U. S. fucking A. Today; that's about the least private thing I can think of.
Officer Milner: [arriving on crime scene] So, what's the deal?
Officer McCord: Suicide. Double suicide. They shot each other!
Officer Milner: Hey, that's Kurt Kelly!
Officer McCord: And the line backer, Ram Sweeney.
Officer Milner: My God, suicide. Why?
Officer McCord: [holds up bottle of mineral water found next to one of the bodies] Does *this* answer your question?
Officer Milner: [appalled] Oh man! They were fags?
Officer McCord: The quarterback, buggering the linebacker...
Officer McCord: What a waste!
Officer Milner: Oh, the humanity!
Pauline Fleming: Whether to kill yourself or not is one of the most important decisions a teenager can make.
Veronica Sawyer: You know, I have a little prepared speech I tell my suitor when he wants more than I'd like to give him. Gee, blank, I had a really nice...
Brad: Save the speeches for Malcolm X, I just want to get laid.
J.D.: Is your life perfect?
Veronica Sawyer: I'm on my way to a party at Remington University... No, my life's not perfect. I don't really like my friends.
J.D.: I... I don't really like your friends either.
Heather Chandler: They all want me as a friend or a fuck. I'm worshiped at Westerburg and I'm only a junior.
Veronica Sawyer: Hey, Martha. My date for the prom kinda flaked out on me. I was wondering, If you weren't doing anything that night, maybe we could rent some new releases and pop some popcorn.
Martha 'Dumptruck' Dunnstock: I'd like that.
Veronica Sawyer: Heather, why can't you just be a friend? Why do you have to be such a mega-bitch?
Heather Duke: Because I can be.
Heather Duke: Hi, everybody. Door was open. Veronica, did you hear? We were doing Chinese at the food fair, when it comes over the radio that Martha Dumptruck tried to buy the farm. She belly-flopped in front of a car wearing a suicide note.
Veronica Sawyer: Is she dead?
Heather Duke: No... that's the punchline. She's alive, and in stable condition. Just another case of a geek trying to imitate the popular people and failing miserably.
Heather Duke: You were out of control! I mean Heather and Kurt were a shock but Martha Dumptruck? Get crucial! She was dialing suicide hotlines in her diapers!
Heather Duke: Veronica, why are you pulling my dick?
J.D.: Well, ah... Let's take a look at some of the homosexual artifacts I dug up to plant at the scene.
J.D.: All right. Got an issue of "Stud Puppy."
Veronica Sawyer: Great!
J.D.: Candy dish. Joan Crawford postcard. Let's see, some mascara. All right. And here's the one perfecto thing I picked up. Mineral water.
Veronica Sawyer: Oh, come on, a lot of people drink mineral water, it's come a long way.
J.D.: Yeah, but this is Ohio. I mean, if you don't have a brewski in your hand you might as well be wearing a dress.
Veronica Sawyer: That knife is filthy.
J.D.: What do you think I'm going to do with it, take out her tonsils?
Veronica Sawyer: Excuse me, I think I know Heather a little bit better than you do. If she were going to slit her wrists, the knife would be spotless.
Veronica Sawyer: Hello, Heather.
Heather Chandler: Veronica. Finally. I got a note of Kurt Kelly's. I need you to forge a hot and horny but realistically low-key note in Kurt's handwriting, and we'll slip it onto Martha Dumptruck's lunch tray.
Veronica Sawyer: Shit, Heather, I don't have anything against Martha Dunnstock.
Heather Chandler: You don't have anything for her either. Come on, it'll be very. The note'll give her shower-nozzle masturbation material for weeks.
Veronica Sawyer: I'll think about it.
Heather Chandler: Is this turnout weak or what? I had at least 70 more people at my funeral.
Veronica Sawyer: Heather?
Heather Chandler: God, Veronica. My afterlife is so boring. I have to sing Kumbaya one more time...
Veronica Sawyer: [praying over Heather's casket] Hi, I'm sorry. Technically, I did not kill Heather Chandler, but hey who am I trying to kid, right? I just want my high school to be a nicer place. Amen. Did that sound bitchy?
J.D.: Wanna go out tonight? Catch a movie? Miniature golf?
Veronica Sawyer: I was thinking more along the lines of slitting Heather Duke's wrists open, making it look like suicide.
J.D.: Ah, now you're talking. I can be up for that. I've already started underlining meaningful passages in her copy of Moby Dick, if you know what I mean.
Heather Chandler: Grow up Heather, bulimia's so '87.
J.D.: Seven schools in seven states and the only thing different is my locker combination.
Veronica Sawyer: She's my best friend. God, I hate her.
Heather Chandler: [sticker inside locker] I shop, therefore I am.
Dennis: Take a look. We'll have a two page layout with her suicide note here in the right hand corner. It's more tasteful than it sounds.
Veronica Sawyer: I don't know. This kind of thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Courtney: Like last night, Veronica?
Heather McNamara: God had cursed me I think. The last guy I had sex with killed himself the next day. I'm failing math. I was supposed to be cheerleading captain...
Father Ripper: We must pray the other teenagers of Sherwood, Ohio, know the name of that righteous dude who can solve their problems: it's Jesus Christ, and he's in the Book.
Peter: [praying next to Heather Chandler's coffin] Dear Lord, please make sure this never happens to me because I don't think I could handle suicide. Fast, early acceptance into an Ivy League school and please let it be Harvard. Amen.
Ram Sweeney: [praying in Heather's funeral] Jesus God in Heaven, why'd you have to kill such hot snatch?
Ram Sweeney: Holy Mary who art in Heaven pray for us sinners... so we don't get caught
Ram Sweeney: Another joke.
J.D.: [after killing Heather] What are we gonna tell the cops? "Fuck it if she can't take a joke, Sarge".
Veronica Sawyer: The cops? This is my life. Oh, my God. I'll have to send my S.A.T. scores to San Quentin instead of Stanford.
Betty Finn: Nice guys finish last, I should know.
Veronica Sawyer: [speaking to Heather McNamara after her suicide attempt] If you were happy everyday of your life you wouldn't be a human being, you'd be a game show host.
Que Sera, Sera Written by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans Published by Jay Livingston Music - St. Angelo Music Performed by Syd Straw Arranged by Van Dyke Parks
Teenage Suicide Don't Do It Performed by Big Fun Produced and Written by Don Dixon Published by Lava Head Music / La Rana Music Courtesy of Enigma Records
You're The Only One For Me Written & Performed by Stewart Levin
Nominations And Wins:
Nominated Felix Best Actress Winona Ryder
Best Original Screenplay Daniel Waters
Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA 2009
Nominated CFCA Award Best Actress Winona Ryder
Most Promising Actor Christian Slater
Most Promising Actress Winona Ryder
Deauville Film Festival 1989
Won Edgar Best Motion Picture Daniel Waters
Film Independent Spirit Awards 1990
Won Independent Spirit Award Best First Feature Michael Lehmann (director)
Denise Di Novi (producer)
Nominated Independent Spirit Award Best Female Lead Winona Ryder
Best Screenplay Daniel Waters
Sundance Film Festival 1989
Nominated Grand Jury Prize Dramatic Michael Lehmann
Torino International Festival of Young Cinema 1989
Won Special Mention Feature Film Winona Ryder For her performance.
Nominated Prize of the City of Torino Best Feature Film Michael Lehmann
PARENTS GUIDE FOR HEATHERS (1988)
The content of this page was created directly by users at the IMDb website and has not been screened or verified by IMDb staff.
Since the beliefs that parents want to instill in their children can vary greatly, it is advisable in thinking about what is right or wrong in this film, you use this feature to help parents make informed viewing decisions by describing the facts of relevant scenes in the title for each one of the different categories: Sex and Nudity, Violence and Gore, Profanity, Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking, and Frightening/Intense Scenes.
SEX & NUDITY:
MPAA suggested rating - Rated R: for violence, pervasive language, thematic material, alcohol and drug use - all involving teens.
VIOLENCE & GORE:
A game of croquet is held, with three girls (all "Heathers") using another girl's ("Veronica"'s) head.
Two characters get into a fight: slamming each other into the walls, wielding a fire extinguisher, a gun and a knife.
The results of the fight are shown as the two characters leave, with both of them bloody and bruised.
At least 3 abuses of the name "Jesus," at least 3 misuses of "Christ," and more than 2 dozen instances of "God" as a curse word.
The 'f' word is used 15 times, the 'a-h' word over a dozen times, the 's' word dozens of times, "bitch" at least 3, "hell" at least 3, "damn" at least a dozen times, "prick" at least once.
One character gives another the middle finger.
Teen characters smoke and drink throughout the film.
A stoner girl smokes a joint in the school bathroom.
Nothing overly intense (maybe the shootings in the woods and the final scene) but the whole theme of the film is rather dark, with comedic/humorous undertones).
The movie is about teenagers murdering other teenagers and setting them up as suicides. Many people may find this and several pieces of the content disturbing, despite the fact that it is played for comedy.
A boy is chased naked through the woods before being shot to death.
A girl, after being bullied and picked on constantly, attempts suicide by walking into the middle of a busy street with a note pinned to her chest.
The entire class of children tease a character until she runs into the bathroom and empties an entire bottle of pills into her mouth.
A sociopath emotionally abuses a character throughout the film.
This film probably could have a PG-13 rating for thematic elements if there weren't so much questionable language. The film isn't graphic, only a few scenes even contain blood.
The final scene is a bit of a downer, but also optimistic and providing closure.
This film is probably OK for a fairly mature 13 year old.
Read about Heathers
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