#8 | Heathers: Damage Control
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Heathers might just be the ultimate Winona Ryder movie. Her work in Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands may have been more widely seen, and Little Women and The Age of Innocence more decorated, but it was Michael Lehmann’s 1989 black comedy that best captured the cool, stylish and cerebral screen presence that would make her not just a star but an icon of the era.
The trouble with defining an era of course, is how difficult it can be to escape from it. So it seems fitting that after more than a decade in the wilderness, it was the Netflix hit Stranger Things, practically a six-hour love letter to 80s teen movies, that finally provided Ryder with her long overdue comeback. For fans newly converted to the church of Winona -for example, the offensively youthful co-host of this podcast – Heathers serves as an excellent primer on why a certain generation of moviegoers was just so eager to have her back on the screen.
Not that Ryder is the only reason to recommend the movie. Heathers also provided breakthrough roles for Christian Slater, as the sociopathic wannabe teen rebel J.D, and Shannen Doherty, honing the teen queen persona that would later serve her well on Beverley Hills 90210. In a just world, it would also have made a star of the late Kim Walker, who almost steals the whole picture as malevolent quote-machine Heather Chandler.
The movie bombed on release in 1989, becoming a cult classic thanks to video rentals in subsequent years, aided by Ryder’s own rising star in the early to mid ’90s. A sequel has long been mooted – mostly by Ryder herself – but has never materialised, although a TV adaptation is in the works.
As clearly influential as Heathers was on subsequent high school comedies, it’s actually difficult to imagine the film getting made today without being severely de-fanged. Tina Fey famously had to sacrifice a reference to a character masturbating with a hot dog – among other near the knuckle jokes – from the original script of Mean Girls. With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine the iconic line “fuck me gently with a chainsaw” getting past the studio censors, let alone the rich seam of jet black jokes about murder, sexual assault and teen suicide.
Still, at Beyond The Box Set, the only rule in our imaginary film studio is that there are no rules*. So listen to this week’s episode to discover how we’d envision a sequel or a remake of Heathers in 2017 – guaranteed shower nozzle masturbation material for all.
* We actually have several rules. See our first episode for more information.
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Our Heathers episode is available through iTunes, Stitcher, aCast and most other major podcast hosting channels. Give us a listen, and if you like what you hear be sure to subscribe and leave us a review – we’ll absolutely love you forever.
We’d also love to hear your ideas for how a sequel, prequel or remake of Heathers could look in 2017. Leave your ideas in the comments section below – or reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter – and we’ll give the best contributions a shout out on a future episode.