17-year-old Kate Winslet made her film debut in this compelling blend of true crime and dark fantasy, though it took two years for it to reach our screens. That didn't stop critics hailing her as Britain's brightest new talent, and the kudos was more than justified by her subsequent Oscar-nominated performances in "Sense and Sensibility" and "Titanic".
For director Peter Jackson, this was a marked change of pace after such gorefests as "Bad Taste" and "Braindead". But the Kiwi native proved he had more up his sleeve than trashy schlock, and the film's success paved the way for his current project: an epic three-part adaptation of "The Lord of the Rings".
Written by Jackson and his partner Frances Walsh, "Heavenly Creatures" tells the true story of Juliet Hulme (Winslet) and Pauline Parker (Melanie Lynskey), two teenagers who stunned New Zealand when they murdered the latter's mother in 1952. The girls spent five years in jail before being released on parole - on condition they never see each other ever again.
Jackson attempts to show what could bring these two impressionable youngsters to commit such an abhorrent act of violence. Although very different - Juliet is charming and outgoing, Pauline sullen and withdrawn - the pair are united by their mutual devotion to opera singer Mario Lanza and build an elaborate fantasy world around him. When their parents try to separate them, there seems only one solution...
"Heavenly Creatures" is on BBC2 at 9.45pm, Sunday 14th January 2001.