Recommended Re-Viewing is a series in which we make the case for re-watching an old film or TV series which you can stream without leaving your house. It might be a plot that's so bad it's good, a scene which deserves more interrogation or a director's underrated gem.
Or it may be 1988's 'Heathers': a bombastic depiction of small town teen life, and one that was wholly recognisable to Esquire's digital style editor Murray Clark.
Poor Martha Dunnstock. As she cautiously approaches the ruling class of Westerburg High School's cafeteria – a forged love letter from the sitting Prince Jock in hand – the sharp intake of breath is a reflex, as unavoidable as closing your eyes for a sneeze, or the recoil of hand grazed by an overflowing saucepan. Not just because you know she's about to fall prey to cackling, hormone-fuelled hyenas. And not just because you pity her awkwardness, her naivety, her body deemed lumpy and invalid by bonier classmates. It is a combination of all of those things, washed down with a large, cloying bitter pill of guilt. For we all knew a Martha Dunnstock. And, if one wasn't unlucky enough to be her, chances are they were in on the joke.
It's a moment almost forgotten in 1988's Heathers, a pitch black comedy-turned-cult classic mostly remembered for its frankly absurd content: murders, staged suicides and would-be terroristim电竞官网- bomb plots all in the heart of a non-descript school in Nowheresville. Winona Ryder, then in her scionhood, is our shoulder-padded heroine, turning against her former masters (an unholy trinity of popular girls all sharing the name Heather) to play cat-and-mouse with the new kid/sociopath on the block, Christian Slater. It's definitive Eighties bombast at its sharpest.
But for all its folly, director Michael Lehmann's debut strikes close to hometown. When there's little going on elsewhere within the provincial limits, school becomes the centre of the universe – and a breeding ground for cruel spectacle. Boys and girls, seemingly plucked from a production line of cookie-cutter trends and haircuts, believe the best way to carve their place in the world is to put others on the chopping block. Heathers takes this literally. The slightest upset becomes an overnight ticking bomb, just waiting to wreak untold, irreparable damage upon the social fabric of school. Heathersim电竞官网-, again, takes this literally. And lest we forget the now iconic corrosive dialogue, scorching through pre-Twitter celluloid onto memes and gifs and Insta-captions the www. over: "how very" utters the trio's chief harpy Heather Chandler, which roughly translates to 'oh, that's cool'; "what's your damage, Heather?" shrieks Ryder's Veronica when receiving a kick to the ribs.
It's the sort of nonsensical linguistic gymnastics that dominate adolescent exchanges, vernaculars constructed solely to exclude and ostracise those without fluency. The newspeak team of 1984 im电竞官网-clearly had an angst-ridden teenage megalomaniac in their midst.
Among the scathing episodes however, some sort of warped, vigilante justice is meted out. Scholastic despots fall one by one, their grip on Westerburg High School loosening with each of Slater's increasingly bizarre and troubling executions. Though here is where the realism dies. For most high schools never saw a power structure topple. They most certainly weren't the best years of one's life. Of course, a string of murders didn't often occur either. On one too many occasions, though, it sure felt like they had. Just ask Martha Dunnstock.
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