The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Heathers, made in 1989, is a cult movie in which three out of the four girls in a trend-setting clique at Westerberg High are called Heather. They play croquet with each other and enjoy playing tricks on their classmates. It was written by Daniel Waters and directed by Michael Lehmann , and starred Winona Ryder, Shannen Doherty, and Christian Slater.

Heathers is a black comedy exploring teenage coteries as a model for satirising high school life.

Plot description

Heathers centers around a high school student named Veronica (played by Winona Ryder in the role that broke her career). Veronica is part of a clique of popular, pretty and wealthy girls that are called The Heathers. The reasoning is simple: other than Veronica, they all share that first name. Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty), Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk ) and Heather Chandler (Kim Walker), Veronica's best friend, encapsulate what it means to be the vacant, shallow, self-centered teenage girl.

Veronica wasn't always so popular. Although it is never explained how she ascended to popularity, it is made clear that she used to be good friends with one of the school's biggest nerds, Betty Finn. She is also clearly smarter and more compassionate than any of her Heather cohorts. When a new, dark boy named Jason Dean (Christian Slater), or J.D. for short, pulls a gun on school jocks and bullies Kurt and Ram and fires blanks at them, Veronica is intrigued.

Soon Veronica and J.D. are dating, and he accompanies Veronica on an early morning visit to Heather Chandler's home. Veronica is furious with Heather Chandler's behaviour at a frat party and the two of them jokingly prepare a cup full of drain cleaner to bring her as a morning wake-up drink. They later decide on milk and orange juice as a vomit-inducing prank, but Veronica accidentally mixes up the cups and to her horror Heather Chandler downs the drain cleaner and begins to heave and spasm, eventually collapsing face first into a glass table and dying.

Realizing that she is the unintentional perpetrator of her best friend's murder, J.D. urges Veronica to forge a suicide note in Heather Chandler's handwriting. Veronica does so only to protect herself from prosecution. The entire school and community looks on Heather Chandler's death as a hip if dramatic decision in the life of a popular but troubled teenager, and everyone accepts the suicide note as authentic. Soon Heather's death becomes yesterday's news.

Weeks later J.D. concocts a plan to make bullies Ram and Kurt leave Veronica alone. He tells her that they will lure the two guys into the forest with the promise of a three-way with Veronica, only once they have stripped naked, they will shoot them with "Ich Lüge" bullets; fake bullets that will stun them unconscious long enough for Veronica and J.D. to flee. They will leave behind homosexually-oriented materials (like pornographic magazines and the somewhat questionable bottled-water) and a fake suicide note that makes it look like the two killed each other in a gay suicide pact. When they awaken, they will be humiliated.

Veronica agrees, thinking the plan is hilarious, but when she misfires and one of them doesn't get shot, J.D. goes running after him desperately. Veronica instantly realizes that the bullets were real ("Ich lüge" means "I'm lying" in German) and J.D. had intended to kill the two boys all along. J.D. managed to chase the unshot boy in a circle so that he ends up back where they started, and Veronica, in a frightened daze, shoots him dead. The plan goes off without a hitch when the boys' bodies are discovered and the two school football stars are "revealed" to be gay lovers. (In one of the more memorable moments of the film, a redneck father is seen at a funeral with a football in his hand crying out "I love my dead gay son!")

Suddenly Veronica is sucked into a world that she never intended to be a part of. Although the people they are killing were not particularly good or nice, she knows that murder is wrong. Additionally, because they were popular, other students are mimicking their behavior and attempting suicides. Most notably, obese student Martha "Dumptruck" Dunnstock pins a suicide note to her chest and walks into traffic. (She is not killed; instead she is horribly wounded and wheelchair bound.)

Veronica realizes she has to stop participating in these crimes with J.D., but when she tells him, he goes nuts. He reveals his plan to kill Heather Duke next, and hints that he might try to kill Veronica. Veronica, expecting him to find her and kill her, rigs something in her room to make it look like she has hanged herself. J.D. discovers her "body" and leaves, heartbroken. (Veronica's mother also discovers her just before she unties herself, getting quite a scare.) Before he leaves, however, he reveals that he intends to blow up the entire school during a pep rally. A petition he has been circulating to get the band "Big Fun" to play was actually a cleverly disguised suicide note that almost the entire school has signed.

Veronica heads to school the next day and confronts J.D. in the boiler rooms where he is rigging dynamite to go off. They get into a gunfight where Veronica shoots off J.D.'s finger, and finally she forces him to disable the bomb. However, she is unable to save J.D., who later meets her outside and detonates a bomb that is strapped to his person. Thus Veronica has literally saved the entire school without anyone knowing it. The final shot of the film is of Veronica, ash laden and bleeding, walking through the halls of the school. She confronts Heather Duke and rips a red bow from her hair (the bow which Heather Chandler is known to wear, which J.D. had given Heather Duke) and then starts up a friendly discussion with Martha Dunnstock.


The fictional Westerberg High School is named for musician Paul Westerberg.

External links

Last updated: 05-23-2005 00:49:50