Then this little high school satire called Heathers comes out, starring Winona Ryder, patron princess of disaffected late 1980s teenagers, and the guy who plays her boyfriend, a sociopathic clique-killer in a trench coat and sunglasses and drinking a Slushie, is dark and funny and radiates microwaves of danger-sex. For the next few years, each of his subsequent roles, from the confounding (Kuffs) to the absolutely I-will-fight-you-if-you-dispute-this perfect (Pump Up the Volume), tries to bank on this same angsty, unnerving charm. I watched that Christian Slater and became radicalized by him, or as radicalized as someone looking for a soul inside a movie theater could ever get.
I, too, will fight any who dispute the perfection of Pump Up The Volume.
The last time I watched it, I was struck by two things:
1) It’s unbelievably prescient about the power of media to give voice to the individual disaffected and lonely. But its just a couple of years too early to get the medium right – replace pirate radio with the internet and blogging.
2) One of my all-time favorite pieces of set-decoration-as-character-building: the school principal who thinks his past as a 60s radical means he can’t have become a tool of oppressive power – in his office, he has a framed Grateful Dead poster.