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Heathers (1988)

R | | Comedy, Crime | 31 March 1989 (USA)
In order to get out of the snobby clique that is destroying her good-girl reputation, an intelligent teen teams up with a dark sociopath in a plot to kill the cool kids.


Michael Lehmann


Daniel Waters
1,086 ( 122)

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3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Winona Ryder ... Veronica
Christian Slater ... J.D.
Shannen Doherty ... Heather (Duke)
Lisanne Falk ... Heather (McNamara)
Kim Walker ... Heather (Chandler)
Penelope Milford ... Pauline Fleming
Glenn Shadix ... Father Ripper
Lance Fenton Lance Fenton ... Kurt Kelly
Patrick Labyorteaux ... Ram
Jeremy Applegate ... Peter Dawson
Jon Shear Jon Shear ... Rodney (as Jon Matthews)
Carrie Lynn Carrie Lynn ... Martha Dunnstock / Dumptruck
Phill Lewis ... Dennis
Renée Estevez ... Betty Finn (as Reneé Estevez)
John Zarchen ... Country Club Keith


A regular girl, Veronica, tries to survive the social jungle of high school by sticking with the three most popular girls at school who are all called Heather. As she meets a sociopath named JD, her life spirals into a continuous cycle of hate, unintentional murder and indifference, as she exacts revenge on her enemies, also known as her best friends. Written by Marielle <msaz.movies@gmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Best friends, social trends and occasional murder. See more »


Comedy | Crime


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

31 March 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Fatal Game See more »


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$177,247, 2 April 1989, Limited Release

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


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. See more »


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). See more »


[first lines]
Heather McNamara: Damn. It's your turn, Heather.
See more »

Alternate Versions

There was a scene scripted, shot but not included in the final film, in which after Veronica steps into the shower with her clothes on, the other girls in the shower room get excited and follow her "cue" and get in the shower fully dressed as well. This leads to every girl with clothes on in the shower room. The jocks peer in and see the fully clothed girls, and are disgusted. Finally afterward, Veronica, and Heather McNamara and Heather Duke walk outside and spot the T.V. cameras coming to the school. The scene ends when the two Heathers run toward the T.V. camera and Veronica stands still, in guilt. A still from this scene can be seen on the Anchor Bay DVD. See more »


Referenced in Bunheads: What's Your Damage, Heather? (2012) See more »


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
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User Reviews

You're probably not supposed to laugh at mass murder, but it's hard not to when it's this much fun
29 June 2009 | by happyendingrocksSee all my reviews

This deserving cult classic is still as crisp and contemporary 20 years later as it was when it came out (actually, I can only guess how much impact it had upon its release; I was only 10 at the time and probably wouldn't have understood the high school dichotomy even if I had seen the film then). The blood-black humor is still as biting and sharp as ever, and the best lines still induce morbid laughter ("I love my dead gay son" is a personal favorite). And a top-notch cast of 80's actors who really deserved to end up doing more with their careers (except the ones who actually DID do more, most of whom should have stopped right here) carried this material with such grace, the film really hasn't aged at all.

There is a timeless feel to Heathers, and it's something that definitely struck me watching this film today. Here's the confession: I am writing this review after watching Heathers for the first time. Of course, I had heard about this film for years, but somehow it stayed out of my DVD library until just recently. After finally taking in this much lauded classic, I'm sorry I waited so long.

But, perhaps approaching this film with today's eyes lends a useful gauge of its true effectiveness. After all, I watched the film simply to watch it, and I had no historical or sentimental ties to it to cloud my judgment of exactly how much I enjoyed it. The fact that Heathers is so great, despite the fact that it came out of an era during which high school films were made in a very specific mode, thus have mostly aged very poorly, speaks volumes about its quality.

Let me explain... Picture teen films made in the 90's during that dark period where pagers, not cell phones, were the apex of communications. Of course, all the hip kids at the time would have a pager, so naturally, references to this ultra-modern form of technology would enter into the plot, or at least the peripheral. Someone watching a film from this period today would immediately notice this antiquated device, and the film would then date itself. Heathers has no such attachments to its era, and in fact, it looks very little like any high school film made in the 80's (or ever, actually). The use of almost no music in the film adds to this mystique, and since there's no Simple Minds song guiding the action, we can't quite place the Heathers' link to popular culture there. Ditto with the fashion, which, aside from some pretty intense hair-dos, doesn't place our characters into any historical context. The teens in this film don't strut around in legwarmers or Member's Only jackets, and even if they did, this would have an ironic coolness about it in today's retro culture.

I only point this out to demonstrate that Heathers seemed to have much more on its mind than entertaining teens for a couple of hours. It takes significant forethought to omit anything that places significance on the time and place the story unfolds and focus all of the elements on the darkly delightful story instead. Heathers wouldn't work nearly as well, or apply so encompassingly, if it tied itself to a singular post of time. One of the reasons the film holds up so well today is that it looks like it could have very well been made today. This fact makes the rumors I've heard of a remake in the works one of the worst ideas of all time... and that's really saying a lot considering how many classic films have been tainted by a wretched modern make-over/cash-in (oh, that's right... we're supposed to call them "re-imaginings").

You can easily find the plot and any other pertinent information on the very listing you browsed to come to this review, and certainly Heathers is a film that has been discussed so much that I won't be able to add any significant perspective to it. Rest assured, I won't try.

I'm only here to say that I finally watched Heathers, and found it deserving off all the hype that I've encountered in the decades this film has existed. The satire is cutting and brilliant and the themes are universal, and will remain universal as long as there are millions of insecure teenagers on this planet vying for the ever-present enigma of "acceptance". Hell, most adults are still searching for that themselves, which would sort of make Heathers a film that grows up with you. That's no simple feat, and the very fact that 20 year-old jokes about mass murder are still funny today says as much about humanity as the film does about the dynamics of popularity.

I'll admit I arrived to the party late, but I can assure you this: it won't take another 20 years for me to watch this again.

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