I just killed my best friend.
And your worst enemy.
This is a movie I love but I also have a hard time watching it as I am Veronica. I too was swayed by a crazy guy who tried to kill me. Luckily for both of us, we survived.
Heathers is a film that to be honest is weird to summarize. If you tried to give a synopsis to someone who has never seen it you would sound crazy. You like a film where they end up killing people and making it look like suicide? And it is a comedy? It is definitely odd, but like Mean Girls there is just something about it that pulls you in. The writing is great, the characters understandable and so relatable in its teen angst.
This film also deals with a lot of harsh issues and is not for everyone. It covers suicide, abuse, bullying, shooting, etc. if any of those things might be a trigger for you, it would be best not to watch this film.
Although, now as an adult watching this film I’m like Veronica you are a junior, why are you freaking out? You only have two years left in school and then you can go any where and do anything you want! Her family is rich and if her dad puts up with her calling him an idiot every day I’m sure he will pay for whatever she wants to do whether it is college, seeing the world, or moving to the City and trying to make it on her own doing whatever. I mean if she was poor, wasn’t the best student, or was stuck in her place, I would be more sympathetic.
The other thing I love about this film are the clothes, the ‘80s really could go over the top. I love that these girls are always wearing blazers, giant hats, ostentatious outfits, bright clothes- Veronica even wears a monocle. This juxtaposition of wealth and color with the sad dark themes of suicide works so well in ways I don’t fully understand. There’s just something about Heathers.
The film starts off with this crazy dream sequence, the three Heathers playing croquet, and Veronica (Winona Ryder) is buried up to her neck. She’s unable to move but finds herself at the will of the Heathers. She talks to them, being sarcastic and making cutting comments, but no change occurs as the Heathers ignore her words and she is still stuck in the same place.
“Heather McNamara: It’s your turn Heather.
Heather Chandler: No, Heather, it’s Heather’s turn. Heather?
Heather Duke: Sorry Heather
As I’m sure you can tell, the symbolism runs deep. The Heathers run the school with Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) as the Queen Bee, Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk) as her yes-man, and Heather Duke (Shannon Doherty) is treated better than the rest of the school, but still the one Heather C. likes to kick around.
Veronica is in a weird place, as she’s not the doormat Heather D. is, but she’s also not as cemented in the group either. She’s still very much an individual, not a minion like the other two Heathers, but at the same time still goes along with all they do-even though she may voice a concern or complain about their activities-she still does it. Just like in her dream.
The film starts off with Veronica noticing the new boy in school, J.D. (Christian Slater). He’s got the bad boy look down pat, long hair, and wearing a trench coat. Very cool and the type of guy every girl falls for at least once in their life.
They ask him the question of the day which is “what would you do if you won 5 million dollars but only have one day left on Earth because Aliens are going to destroy it?” He gives a pretentious answer, but Veronica eats it up.
Christian Slater has stated that his performance was heavily inspired by Jack Nicholson and I believe it as he is creepy! But he also is much better looking than Jack Nicholson and does that eyebrow thing we all love.
Veronica’s fallen for him, but gets dragged away by Heather as J.D. is not their crowd. Two football players Ram and Kurt don’t like him trying to move up into another stratosphere and run over to try and bully him. J.D. listens to their insults and pulls a gun out and shoots them.
Later, the girls are talking about the events and all the Heathers think J.D. is insane! But Veronica-poor Veronica is blinded by her crush on the bad boy defends him as “it was just a joke and blanks”.
Veronica no!!! NO NO NO! This is a big red flag, but Veronica doesn’t see it. Poor, dumb, in love, Veronica. Not only has her crush on J.D. blinded her from this scary, crazy event that has happened, but she actually likes what J.D. did. She never liked Ram and Kurt and thinks they should be taken down a leg or two. In her mind J.D. isn’t insane, but a vigilante, a Robin Hood against high social hierarchy.
This makes me so sad as this kind of thing happened all the time with women, and men. They meet someone who exhibits insane and dangerous behavior, but in their mind they make excuses, they reinvent it so it’s then staid go up against something, maybe “protecting” someone or something. But all it is, is a red flag that should be warning you to stay away-but so often it just draws people in.
Veronica is going with Heather C. to a Remington Frat Party, but on the way there they stop at the connivence store, where Veronica runs into J.D. She zooms in on him as she is fascinated by how different he is and wants to be with him. Veronica is an interesting character as she becomes “different people” depending on who she is around. With Heather she’s the popular girl with a slightly better moral code than the others-with J.D. she can rebel, be wild, and free.
J.D.: Is your life perfect?
Veronica Sawyer: I’m on my way to a party at Remington University… No, my life’s not perfect. I don’t really like my friends.
J.D.: I… I don’t really like your friends either.
Veronica Sawyer: Well, it’s just like – they’re people I work with, and our job is being popular and shit.
J.D.: Maybe it’s time to take a vacation.
Now I understand what Veronica is going through, high school can feel like a tremendous pile of crap while you are going through it, but at the same time I’m like Veronica it isn’t your job. You only have a year and a couples months left and then you can do whatever you want. Try not to take it so seriously.
I also love the outfit Veronica wears in this scene. I would love to own it.
The two separate with Veronica going off with Heather to the party. There none have a nice time as Heather C. Is pressured into things she doesn’t want to do to keep up with the college crowd and Veronica’s date only cares about sleeping with her and doesn’t like the word no. Veronica spends the rest of the night getting drunk and then throws up in the alley. Heather C. yells at Veronica, with Veronica finally standing up to her. Heather declares everything is over for Veronica.
That night Veronica gets out her monocle and really let’s her feelings fly in her journal-she especially shares all about her hatred of Heather.
Veronica Sawyer: [writing in diary] Betty Finn was a true friend and I sold her out for a bunch of Swatch dogs and Diet Coke heads. Killing Heather would be like offing the wicked witch of the west… wait east. West!
Veronica is interrupted by her musings when J.D. climbs through her window. I’m like Veronica, here is another red flag. You didn’t ask him over, he searched out where you lived, waited for you to come home, and climbed through your window without permission. Like it would be one thing if he got her attention or had asked her address or phone number-but he never did. It doesn’t matter how many times I watch this, I’m always like Veronica no! Even though I know what will happen next.
The two play strip croquet and Veronica confides in J. D. about her hatred of Heather. Veronica was really just trying to vent, but too bad she doesn’t realize her newly acquired boyfriend is a psycho!
The next day Veronica and J. D. break into Heather C.’s house as Veronica plans on making her a fake hangover cure and getting her semi-revenge. J. D. pours draino into a cup, but Veronica ignores him as she thinks it is just a joke-Veronica this is like the fourth red flag!
Veronica makes an orange juice and milk mixture and the two hawk some loogies into it. Afterwards, J.D. tricks Veronica into taking the draino one by kissing her. Everyone says it is an accident, but I think it was done on purpose. It is such a weird time to kiss her so to me it seems like a distraction, but then again he is a freak. He does almost warn her, but changes his mind so it could have be an accident turned into an opportunity. Either way they go into Heather’s room and basically double dog dare her to drink it, she does, and dies.
Veronica is freaked out and doesn’t know what to do, and says these iconic lines (one of my favorite parts)
Veronica Sawyer: I just killed my best friend.
J.D.: And your worst enemy.
Veronica Sawyer: Same difference.
Now Veronica is unsure what to do and wants to call the police, but J. D. convinces her to hide it by writing a suicide note. She’s so upset that she goes along with him. Again, another red flag Veronica.
The suicide note is an sensation. School shuts down for the cheerleader, they have a funeral service, and everyone talks about how lovely the note was, how Heather had such a poetic soul.
Veronica is amazed at how this whole thing has turned Heather into more of a “goddess” at school as all are worshiping her. At first she laughs about it, but then the worshipfulness starts getting to her. Later, she meets J. D.’s father and he and his father’s relationship is weird. Even more so when he shares how his mother died, she stayed in a building that his father was going to demo, committing suicide. The way his dad is I’m not so sure it was suicide, I’m thinking it might have been murder! Or it might have been the only way she could be free of him.
What is even more upsetting with Heather gone, Veronica hoped life would be better but Heather C. is still everywhere and Heather D. has stepped up to take her place. That always happens, Queen Bs are like Hydras, cut off the head and there will always be one to take their place.
After the funeral, Heather M. asks Veronica to help her out as she needs someone to go on a double date with her as she is going out with football player, Ram. Veronica insists that she is dating J. D. and she doesn’t want to go out as the guys will just want to tip cows. Heather continues to beg and Veronica agrees only to have a horrible night as the boys get drunk, tip cows, and when Kurt tries to make a move Heather goes off with J. D. (who just happened to show up another red flag). Kurt collapses drunk in a field and in the background you can see Ram date rape Heather. I forgot how disturbing this film can be.
The next day Kurt and Ram spread a story about Veronica that she was with both of them and this makes Veronica and J. D. furious. J. D. wants to get revenge and decides to use some German guns that use “blanks”. He asks if she she knows German, she says no, and then he gives the guns a German name, words which mean he is lying. Veronica is so mad at the guys for spreading lies she goes along with his plan to “kill” them, thinking she is using blanks. I’m like Veronica no! Another red flag, but J. D. is kryptonite to her common sense as he can tell she wants to be a cool, rebellious, person of action-and totally plays into it. Plus he is hot. Unfortunately, attractiveness can really blind you to faults.
The next morning Veronica is happy and giddy to play their prank. She watches as J.D. pulls out all the evidence to make it looks as if they were gay lovers who decided to commit suicide. Again, it is so easy to be like Veronica how can you not see what is happening-but J. D. has really manipulated her. They go to commit their act, Veronica having the guys strip, before they “rip her clothes off”, and when they are in their underwear, they shoot. Ram dies with a bullet in the head, while Veronica misses Kurt. J. D. yells at her and shepherds Kurt back to their suicide circle and Veronica shoots him. They finish setting up their little scene and take off as they hear police, jumping in the car and pretending that they were out there making out.
They go to school and this is one of my favorite parts when Veronica has seen what is happening and realizes she doesn’t want this life. She didn’t really want anyone dead she was just being dramatic and upset, but she’s no killer. The two argue with her going did not (meaning she did not want them to die) and J. D. saying did too. The remaining Heathers see her and think they are just having an argument about their relationship.
Everyone in school finds out about the football players and their note. All are shocked and the two become martyrs for the lgbtq+ cause. Again Veronica is amazed at how such horrible people could have their whole personality changed by death and an eloquent suicide note.
Heather M. is having a really hard time-she’s a follower and her leader killed herself. She poured her sorrows into this new relationship with Ram, who raped her, and then it turns out he’s gay? And he killed himself?! She’s really lost and confused and traumatized-poor girl.
Meanwhile, J. D. has some plans and blackmails Heather D. with fat camp pics of her and Martha “Dumptruck” Dunnstock to get people to sign a petition for Big Fun to come and play at the school their hit song “Teenage Suicide (Don’t Do It!)”. Heather goes along with it, lying about everything in order to get people to sign it. But what is he planning?
Veronica decides it is time to cut all the toxic people out of her life. She dumps J. D., fights with Heather D. over her wanting to wear Heather C.’s scrunchies and take over Heather’s spot, and tries to rekindle her old best friendship with Betty Finn, a real true friend she traded for the Heathers. The two go to play croquet, but the happy afternoon is ruined by Heather D.
Heather D. shares that Martha tried to kill herself only to fail when she didn’t get hit running into traffic. Heather D. makes fun of Martha trying to be cool and failing again. Heather D. and Veronica fight, with Veronica slapping Heather for her cruel words.
Veronica and Heather make up and again we see Veronica has a way out of this, but she doesn’t take it. Instead she goes along with Heather D. as they listen to a radio program Hot Probs, and listen as Heather M. calls in and complains about her perfect life. Poor Heather, she is just trying to figure out what is going on. The next day all the kids in school are making fun of her, and she starts thinking about committing suicide. Veronica notices her leaving class and goes out saving her.
“Veronica Sawyer: If you were happy every day of your life, you wouldn’t be a human being. You’d be a game show host.”
Veronica starts to unravel at the chaos she has created. Heather D. rules the school, J. D. tells her parents that she is planning on killing herself (laying the foundation to kill her and hide it as suicide), she finds a hanging doll in her room (courtesy of J. D. and she is full of strange nightmares that highlight the guilt she feels over the killings. Like Veronica should try and seek out help about J.D. or get a restraining order. He won’t give up until she is dead.
After she has a nightmare about J. D., she decides it is time to take control of her life. She pretends to kill herself, hanging so that when J. D. visits that night he reveals his whole plan to blow up the school. The next day Veronica finds him and takes him out, this is such an awesome scene. A fantastic scene!
Veronica Sawyer: You know what I want? [shoots J.D] Cool guys like you out of my life.
After the bomb goes off and kills J. D. we have a smoking Veronica who comes in for the 1-2 punch; first she takes out Heather being the new Queen B, and then she invites Martha to be her friend.
Veronica Sawyer: Hey, Martha. My date for the prom kinda flaked out on me. I was wondering, If you weren’t doing anything that night, maybe we could rent some new releases and pop some popcorn.
Martha ‘Dumptruck’ Dunnstock: I’d like that.
Veronica Sawyer: Yeah. Me too
Such a great ending to this film. It’s weird as it has seriously dark moments, comedic moments, is very sad, but also extremely enjoyable. It’s just one of those films.
We threw a Heathers themed croquet party where we served spaghetti with lots of oregano (Veronica’s favorite). Two dressed as Heather Chandler (red Heather), one as Heather Duke (green Heather), one person came as J.D., and I was Veronica, because I am Veronica.
Looks pretty close, right?
Also our Facebook cover
So with today’s topic, as J. D. is a horrible person and October being national domestic violence awareness month, I felt compelled to share this.
I Am a Survivor of Domestic Violence and I Know Help is Out There:
Are you being abused?
It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:
- Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
- Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
- Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
- Forcing you to have sex
- Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
- Controlling all the money, even money you earn
- Blaming you or your kids for everything
- Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
- Treating you like a servant or slave
- Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
- Controlling who you see, who you talk to
- Humiliating you in front of other people
- Refusing to let you leave the relationship
It can also look like the below cycle
If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.
- Learn more about the resources in your area from your state or U.S. territory coalition against domestic violence
- Learn more from other national service providers
- Learn more about internet and computer safety
- Learn more about the red flags of abuse
- Learn more about the forms of abuse
For more Winona Ryder films, go to Once, There Was Even a Man Who Had Scissors for Hands: Edward Scissorhands (1990)
For more horror comedies, go to Dirty Deals, Murder, Mob Goons, and a Kidnapping: Men at Work (1990)
For more ‘80s films, go to Father Knows Best: The Stepfather (1987)