Saturday, May 9, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Movies That Made Me (Part 13)


Now we've moved past the classics that everyone my age would have in their "movies that made them" list - y'know, the Ghostbusters and Back to the Futures of the cinematic world - we're going to start getting some stranger and more obscure choices come up in the list.

One that may surprise everyone is Heathers. God, I loved Heathers. I guess I only really picked it up at the video rental store because of the leads. I'd loved Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice and I was vaguely aware of Christian Slater from his role in The Name of The Rose... but the trailers were on other VHS movies I was renting, and it looked unlike the other high school movies I'd seen and loved like The Breakfast Club.

Heathers is a weird and brilliantly dark movie that came along at a time when I was frustrated, lonely and pretty bored with everything. And while it was filled with pretty girls, the standout for the whole film was Christian Slater's character, JD. Swaggering onto screen like a young Jack Nicholson, he told it like it is, and questioned the ridiculous nature of life around him.

Though he does encourage a whole string of deaths and tries to make them look like suicides, so maybe he wasn't the best role model for me in my very late teens. But JD was the coolest, Veronica (Winona Ryder) was great for trying to break free of conformity and convention, and together they had a romance that rivalled Mickey and Mallory Knox. Until it all goes horribly wrong, as you'd expect.

Looking at it now, it's kinda shocking. In the late 80s it was shocking in its own right - the dialog was fast and extreme, it involved (faked) teenage suicides and high school shootings and bombings. But now it seems even more extreme.

At the time I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I remember transcribing the script by hand (these were pre-internet days people!) so that I could study the way it was written and the fluidity of the dialog.

It's an odd one that I haven't gone back to in a long time. I know there was an anniversary bluray released recently that I'm yet to pick up, and I've carefully avoided the remake TV series that sounded horrible. The closest thing I got to the musical was an episode of Riverdale which was horrible (I don't do musicals). But I still have a soft spot for the original, and still love those leads. Winona Ryder is still brilliant today, loving her role in Stranger Things. And Christian Slater? Have you seen Mr Robot? Oh man, still cool. Still very cool.

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