yesterday we saw two films - light of the river by tetsuo hirakawa and heathers. fortunately there were numerous hours of different activities between the films, or my head would have been spinning.

it's been years since i saw heathers, and i had forgotten just how dark a film it is. i checked the rating - did we really go to see this in the theatres when we were kids? yes, we did: it rated 14A in canada, although when it came out on video it changed to 18A. maybe it's only because i am a parent now, but i was kind of shocked by the amount of swearing and violence in a teen film.

of course when i was a teenager, i thought it was awesome.

taking aim at high school social politics, bitchy teen queens, dumb jocks, clueless parents, self-help theories and publicity-hungry teachers, this is the story of veronica (played by winona ryder, hard to remember that she was so young once, even though we're the same age), a girl who wanted to be popular but finds she's not that keen on the popular girls once she's infiltrated their clique.

the school is run by a trio of girls all named heather, each pretty and popular and evil to varying degrees (one of whom is played by a pre-90210 shannen doherty), and they are not approving of veronica's boyfriend, new boy in town j.d. (christian slater, perfecting his jack nicholson impersonation). after accidentally-on-purpose killing the ringleader, veronica finds the situation at school gets worse instead of better, and the downward spiral begins. the story pulls no punches. violence, eating disorders, sexuality, underage drinking, and the ever-popular suicide are all held up to examination and mockery. there are a few shocking moments, and a lot of guilty laughter.

also, hair. hair! towering, teased, crimped, permed, gelled, moussed, scrunchied. and shoulderpads. and dialogue. coming after moon unit zappa's single popularized "valley girl" slang, it takes the lingo to a whole nes level with expressions like "f--- me gently with a chainsaw." it's a caricature of the 'eighties in all ways - the look and feel, the selfish attitudes of the characters.

heathers totally holds up over time. while on the one hand looking extremely dated, the satire is as biting as ever, if not moreso now given the events of the last couple of decades. could a film like heathers get the same distribution if it was made today? not likely.

review of light of the river tomorrow.

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