Heavenly Creatures, which opened November 16, 1994 in the U.S., was a departure for New Zealand director Peter Jackson. Best known for horror comedies like Bad Taste, Brain Dead and Meet the Feebles, Jackson mixed zombies and John Waters-style gross-out comedy to build a healthy audience on the midnight and home-video circuit. But Heavenly Creatures, the story of two teenage girls whose obsessive relationship with each other is so intense that they murder the mother who wants to separate them, was going to be something else. For one, it would be based on a true story. (The notorious “Parker Hulme affair” was one of New Zealand’s most notorious crimes as well as a personal fascination of Jackson’s partner Fran Walsh.) Also, the film would not rely on gore but rather on sensitively depicting the mysterious fantasy world that arose from the imaginations of its two protagonists. Basing the screenplay on Parker’s own diaries, interviews with those who knew the two girls and newspaper accounts, Jackson created a “humane” portrait of the young women that was lyrical, literary and which artfully blended special effects with wonderful acting and emotional understanding. Marking the film debut of Kate Winslet, Heavenly Creatures premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it won the Best Screenplay and the Silver Lion. Walsh and Jackson were also nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar. But, just as importantly, the film changed the industry’s perception of what Jackson would do. Just a few years later, he would begin his career-defining film: The Lord of the Rings.