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John Adams Middle School from “Heathers”

Oct 27th, 2017 | By | Category: Haunted Hollywood, Movie Locations

John Adams Middle School from Heathers-1110556

The Grim Cheaper is a celebrity magnet.  Literally everywhere he goes, he runs into someone famous.  It’s maddening because 90% of these encounters occur when I am not with him.  Like the time he stopped by a Starbucks while on his way to a business meeting and saw Keanu Reeves sitting outside.  Or the night he ate dinner at a table next to Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart and then watched as the two flew off on their private plane from the airport situated adjacent to the restaurant.  And I won’t even get into that day he popped into a Circuit City (remember those?) to find Britney Spears perusing the CD aisle.  The encounter that was easily the most painful for me, though, was the time he spotted Christian Slater in a grocery store.  That one killed this ‘80s lover’s heart.  I was so bummed that as soon as he texted me about it, I hopped in my car and drove to the market to see if I could spot the actor.  Sadly, he was long gone by the time I got there.  That was years ago, but to this day, every time I am in that particular store, I can’t help but scan every square inch of the place for a possible Christian sighting.  Oddly, while I have always loved Slater, I never liked what is arguably his most popular movie, Heathers.  I did stalk one of its main locations, John Adams Middle School, a couple of years back, though, and figured what better time to blog about it than during my annual Haunted Hollywood postings.

And no, I did not have a brain tumor for breakfast.  I am fully aware that Heathers does not exactly fit into the scary movie genre.  But as Horror Freak News stated in a 2015 article, “Heathers isn’t a horror movie (or even a horror comedy) but the irreverent film (released in 1988) has a body count to rival most teen-slashers.  And besides, for Horror Freaks who came of age during the 1980s, Heathers was essential viewing!”  Anyone who doesn’t feel the flick fits in with my Haunted Hollywood theme can go do you-know-what with a chain saw.  Winking smile

The movie’s fictional Westerburg High School (named for Paul Westerberg, the lead singer of The Replacements, Winona Ryder’s favorite band at the time of the filming), supposedly located in Sherwood, Ohio, is actually an amalgamation of a few different L.A.-area places.  Interior scenes, as well as a few exteriors, were shot at what was then Osaka Sangyo University Education Center (OSULA), but is currently Bridges Academy, at 3921 Lauren Canyon Boulevard in Studio City.  You can check out some photos of the inside of Bridges here.  As you can see, it looks much the same today as it did when Heathers was shot almost 30 years ago.  The lockers are even still green!

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The most recognizable spot used to portray Westerburg, though, is easily John Adams Middle School, at 2425 16th Street in Santa Monica, which appeared in the vast majority of Heathers’ exterior school scenes.  John Adams’ rear parking lot, situated off of 17th Street in the northeast portion of the campus, popped up countless times throughout the movie.

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But it is the site’s auditorium that should be most memorable to fans.

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In Heathers, John Adams’ auditorium, which is located in the north portion of the campus along Pearl Street, masked as the exterior of Westerburg’s gym.

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The structure was featured several times in the flick.  It was in front of the auditorium that, in the immortal words of Heather Duke (my girl Shannen Doherty), Martha ‘Dumptruck’ Dunnstock (Carrie Lynn) “tried to buy the farm” by belly-flopping “in front of a car wearing a suicide note.”  Spoiler alert – Martha lives through the event in what Heather so eloquently describes as “just another case of a geek trying to imitate the popular people and failing miserably.”  (Heathers is nothing if not a wellspring of great one-liners!)

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Most notably, the auditorium was the site of Heathers’ infamously explosive climax in which Veronica (Ryder) thwarts J.D.’s (Slater) nefarious plan to “infect a generation” by blowing up a gym full of students during a pep rally.  Instead, J.D. winds up detonating the bomb on himself at the bottom of John Adam’s auditorium steps, while Veronica lights a cigarette using the ensuing flames.  Man, the movie is dark!  I had forgotten how much so until my latest re-watch, which had me shuddering.  Heathers is not just dark, it’s pitch black!

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Only the exterior of John Adams’ auditorium was used in Heathers (you can check out what the inside of the building looks like here) and, unfortunately,  I am unsure of where interior gym scenes were shot.  While the campus does boast a large gymnasium where I thought filming might possibly have occurred, as you can see in these photographs as compared to the screen captures below, it does not match the space that appeared in the movie.  Filming did not take place at Bridges’ gym, which you can see pictures of here and here, either.  And while several internet sources claim that the gym scenes were shot at Verdugo Hills High School, as you can see in this YouTube video, that does not appear to be the case.

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Until next time, Happy Stalking!  Smile

Stalk It: John Adams Middle School, aka Westerburg High School from Heathers, is located at 2425 16th Street in Santa Monica.  The parking lot from the movie is situated off of 17th Street in the northeast portion of the campus and the auditorium can be found off Pearl Street in the northern section.

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2 comments

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  1. Monica says:

    This post made my day. Hope to see more Christian Slater related sights in the future! Thanks Lindsay.

  2. Kim says:

    Thanks for taking us to this site! Kate and I saw Heathers as a musical off-broadway and she loved it!
    I’m with you I never really felt drawn to the movie like other people. But it’s now a cult classic!


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