What Is Your Damage, Heathers?


"**** me gently with a chainsaw!"

I know I'm not the only one who reacted to the announcement of a musical version of Heathers -- the bruise-black 1988 satire of teen angst -- by uttering that line from the movie, one of the many memorable catchphrases in a film renowned for, among other things, its daring and original writing.

Heathers' many imitators, from the laudable Mean Girls to the forgettable Jawbreakers, can't possibly recapture the sheer, shocking, radical newness of the original.

Meanwhile, within the sub-genre I'll call the "Blow Up Your School" movie -- which dates back to Vigo's Zero de Conduit (1933) -- Heathers ranks somewhere below that near-masterpiece ...if (1968) but above its direct predecessor, Massacre at Central High (1976), which failed to live up to its terrific premise, and promise.

That Heathers musical is now playing off-Broadway, timed to coincide with the movie's 25th anniversary.

The review I read of it left me doubly confused.

Not only did the critic not seem to (want to) understand the point of Heathers, but neither, apparently, did the team who staged the darn musical.