Heathers (the movie) question/remarks

So my daughter, the future Broadway star has recently downloaded and begun to memorize the Original Cast recording of Heathers, the Musical. Two days ago, she remarked that, although she had started watching the original movie on Netflix, she hadn’t gotten all the way through.

So yesterday evening, I decided to sit down with her and we watched it together.

Strange movie, especially that J.D. character. I did enjoy explaining to my daughter the joke about the two cops who came upon the murdered jocks, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

I want to talk about Christian Slater’s performance. Maybe it’s because of all the pop culture I’ve been exposed to in the intervening 26 years since the movie’s release, but I found his mannerisms to be annoyingly affected. I couldn’t decide if he was trying to come off as a Jack Nicholson type, or a Matthew Broderick-as-Ferris-Beuller type. Sometimes his delivery was like Nicholson, but some of his vocal fry reminded me of Bueller.

Did Slater ever discuss the effect he was going for? And was it a little-less eyeroll-inducing in 1988?

This is one of my favorite movies. I think it’s absolutely brilliant. Unfortunately, the writer and director haven’t done anything since then that even comes close to Heathers.
As for Slater, I always assumed he was channeling Jack Nicholson.

“I don’t patronize bunny rabbits!” :wink:

I loved the relationship between Slater’s character and the character’s father. It was clearly unhealthy (given the way JD turned out), but also funny as hell.

Black comedy, indeed.

Heathers is still one of my favorite movies although it hasn’t aged well in many ways. Christian Slater was definitely a Jack Nicholson type. In fact, it is a little annoying how much he imitates him in the movie because it detratcs from some of the originality of the rest of it. His character has nothing in common with the mindset and antics of other teen protagonists like Ferris Bueler. In fact, Heathers is satirizing the other angsty teen 80’s movies by creating a character that is totally screwed up yet still somewhat intriguing and likable.

Jason Dean was really dark through and through and deeply disturbed. His father was equally as screwed up and admitted serial killer if you pay close attention. His mother even killed herself in front of Jason (Slater) in front of her son when he was a child by walking into a building right before his father imploded it. There is nothing good or pure about Jason Dean even deep down. He fully intended on killing Veronica personally and then blow up the rest of the school. I don’t think Ferris Bueler or any of the other 80’s teen characters would have done that.

Somehow, it is all still hilarious and a great example of dark comedy.

I hadn’t associated him before with Nicholson but now that you mention it, it does have that vibe.

His affectedness didn’t bother me because the whole movie is swimming in affectedness. “I got paid in puke!”

If you liked Heathers, you really need to watch Pump Up The Volume also.

“Lick it up, baby. Lick it up.”
I can quote Heathers all day long. :slight_smile:

“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.”

“Fuck me gently with a chainsaw. Do I look like Mother Teresa?”

“Save the speeches for Malcolm X. I just wanna get laid.”

I’m not sure if Christian Slater has admitted to channeling Jack Nicholson, but it’s obvious he does. I think he even did a skit on SNL about it.

I still look back at this movie and wonder how the hell it got made. It’s so fucked up.

Here’s an interesting interview with some of the cast and crew for the 25th anniversary. I love how a few of them trash-talk Shannen Doherty.

I think that’s just how he talks since he talks like that in every movie I’ve ever seen him in. Even that Robin Hood film with Kevin Costner.
Ferris Bueller is an interesting comparison. I sort of feel like Ferris acts kind of like a loveable harmless sociopath. Throughout the film, he basically does whatever he wants, with no regard for authority or the feelings or property of others, particularly his friend Cameron. It’s an interesting theme of a lot of 80s comedies that, looking back, a lot of the “harmless” fun would actually be considered felonies like grand larceny, rape, destruction of property, felony drug charges, assault, inciting a riot so on and so forth.

I think Heathers is just taking that same 80s humor to the extreme (or “max” if you prefer). Like lets see what happens when we crank the “me me me” mentality up to 11.

Intrestingly both leads appeared in a Star Trek movie.

To be clear, the only thing that reminded me about Bueller were his speech patterns on a few of his lines, like the Nicholson voice was slipping a little.

I can’t say I’ve seen him in anything else, that I recall.

Wait, he was in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves? As who?

Will Scarlet

I really liked Slater’s performance in another very dark comedy, the aptly titled Very Bad Things.

Here’s the Saturday Night Live segment about Christian Slater sounding so much like Jack Nicholson:


It’s Jimmy Fallon doing the voice of both. There’s also a opening sketch when Slater was the guest host. He briefly mentions Jack Nicholson. I can’t find it online.

The Heathers script is one of the most brilliant pieces of literature ever written. It takes multiple watchings to understand just how dark it is. One example is that it is strongly hinted at that this wasn’t Jason Dean’s first brush with serial killing. Both he and his father engaged in it as they moved around the country (his father owned a large construction company that put them in different towns and cities all over the map) and neither one of them felt the slightest bit of remorse over any of it.

After killing his first victim (Heather Chandler) in Sherwood, OH, he dictates the diary entries so expertly and effortlessly that Veronica asks, “That’s good. Have you done this before?”. Jason Dean just smirks and never responds and that says it all.

Here is the part about his mother’s death. She died during one of his father’s building demolitions.

“My Mom’s making my favorite meal tonight. Spaghetti. Lots of oregano.”

“Nice. The last time I saw my Mom, she was waving out the window of a library in Texas. Right, Dad?”

BIG BUD DEAN - grinning
“Right, son.”

There is some dark stuff in that movie but somehow they pulled off a brilliant black comedy out of it.

I also love the way that Heather Chandler makes up new words and catch-phrases on demand. None of them were standard 80’s slang. They were invented for the movie and a few of them got famous enough to go into minor general usage.

“What’s your damage? Brad says you’re being a real cooze.”

“Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?” - Oddly enough the actress that played Heather Chandler, Kim Walker dies of a brain tumor when she was 32.

I don’t have a cite, just my 1990s fan girling of Slater. I’d heard Nicholson was deliberate. Not only for this, either.
His skateboarding movie was another back in the day favorite. Gleaming the cube. Definitely check out pump up the volume.

Jeremy Applegate, who delivers the line, “Dear God, please make sure this never happens to me, 'cause I don’t think I can handle suicide.”, committed suicide in 2000.

Just popping in to say I also think Heathers was brilliant.

I also recall reading somewhere that Slater’s Nicholson cadence was an intentional imitation.

I like Slater just fine as an actor. He did some voice acting in the latest season of Archer.