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Flowers in the Attic Blu-ray Review

Written by ZigZag

Blu-ray released by Arrow Video

Flowers In The Attic Large

Directed by Jeffrey Bloom
Written by Jeffrey Bloom, based on the novel by V.C. Andrews
1987, 93 minutes, Rated PG-13
Released on November 12th, 2019

Starring:
Louise Fletcher as Grandmother
Victoria Tennant as Corrine
Kristy Swanson as Cathy
Jeb Stuart Adams as Chris
Ben Ganger as Cory
Lindsay Parker as Carrie

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Review:

Following the sudden death of her husband, Corrine quickly falls short of money and faces no other choice than to take her four children and move back home to her estranged parents whom she hasn’t seen in seventeen years. She is desperate enough to win back her dying father’s love and reclaim her place in his will that she will endure her domineering mother’s harsh rules. The children are to be locked away upstairs, at first in a bedroom, then in the attic. As Corrine’s daily visits decline in frequency and soon stop altogether, teen siblings Chris and Cathy become surrogate parents to the younger twins Corrie and Carrie. Grandmother runs the place like a prison, promising the children food and shelter but never love or acceptance. As their health deteriorates, Chris and Cathy devise a plan to escape the attic and search the house for answers, but they are trapped in an endless nightmare and do not like what they learn.

Best-selling author V.C. Andrews wrote a collection of novels chronicling the haunting adventures of the Dollanganger family. The first book, Flowers in the Attic (1979), introduces our heroes Chris and Cathy and their younger siblings abandoned by their mother and imprisoned by their grandmother. The story explores themes of family secrets, neglect and forbidden love as the children spend years locked away in an oversized attic. Incest is a powerful aspect of the older teens’ relationship, something that plagued the family in a previous generation. The book was adapted into this film in 1987, but all references to inbreeding were thoroughly removed.

Written for the screen and directed by Jeffrey Bloom (Blood Beach), Flowers in the Attic is something of a noble failure. The film is competently shot and is buoyed by strong performances, but somehow fails to connect. Louise Fletcher (Exorcist II: The Heretic) steals the show as the cold, unloving Grandmother who has no problem punishing wicked children. She is wonderful in the role and plays it beautifully, bringing a real sense of menace to this dark fairy tale. Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) stars as Cathy, the frequent target of Grandmother’s rage. She is sensitive and protective of her siblings and struggles with her changing attitude towards her delinquent mother. Brother Chris, played by Jeb Stuart Adams (Once Bitten), is supportive and patient and determined to help his family escape their confines. Most of his scenes are with Swanson and the two play well off each other. Rounding out the cast is Victoria Tennant (L.A. Story) as Corrine, the greedy mom who doesn’t receive a lot of screen time but leaves a lasting impression.

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Forced to abandon the incest elements to receive a PG-13 rating, the film still has a lot to work with, including child neglect and imprisonment, but the material somehow grows stale. There are no longer any grey areas for the characters to explore, as they are simply either faultlessly good or mean-spirited antagonists. It is unclear why Corrine and the two older children didn’t take up jobs as money grew tight and instead simply resigned themselves to moving back to her unwelcoming parents’ house. Mom is also a bit too passive when it comes to her kids being locked away in an attic, but the story is theirs and not hers.

Test audiences were so underwhelmed by the lackluster finale that against the director’s wishes a new ending was shot to punch up the final confrontation. I guess it’s more satisfying in some regards, but the changes leave out Grandmother, leaving her character arc unfinished. The film was remade for television in 2013 along with adaptations of the other three books in the series.

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Video and Audio:

Flowers in the Attic first appeared on Blu-ray in 2014 with a generally pleasing but lackluster image. This appears to be the same transfer preserving the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The film was deliberately shot with a combination of soft lighting and gauzy filters that lends a dreamlike fairy-tale vibe to the story. Consequently, the picture is not very sharp and features muted colors and milky black levels.

A DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track fares better with crystal-clear dialogue levels and haunting music cues perfectly balanced throughout.

Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.

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Special Features:

Author Kat Ellinger delivers a thoughtful and informative audio commentary that begins with a discussion of V.C. Andrews’ novels and an elaborate history of American Gothic literature. She details differences between the book and the film, including the absence of incest and the new ending. Other topics include coverage of an earlier draft written by Wes Craven and a look at the resurgence of Gothic horror in the 1980s.

In Home Sweet Home (8 minutes), cinematographer Frank Byers reflects on various aspects of the shoot, including working on a soundstage for the attic sequences and filming on location at a mansion for the rest. He shares his memories of working with the cast and the director and the challenges of shooting in the rain.

Production designer John Muto discusses his work on the picture in Fear & Wonder (14 minutes) and stresses the importance of research when starting a job. He details the process of designing forced-perspective sets on stage and offers models as visual aids. He is proud of the work and the efforts of his fellow crew members.

The Devil’s Spawn (14 minutes) catches up with actor Jeb Stuart Adams, who remembers his audition and thoughts on his character and the script. He shares some interesting production stories and has kind words for his co-stars and regrets the soft-pedaling of the incest angle.

Composer Christopher Young (Drag Me To Hell) sits down for the interview segment Shattered Innocence (10 minutes) and reveals he was hired to replace an existing score. He talks about his inspiration for the music and the positive response from the director.

A still gallery plays as a slideshow (5 minutes) set to the main theme, featuring a number of design sketches, behind-the-scenes images and illustrations and storyboards.

The original, studio-vetoed ending (8 minutes) is included in rough-cut form on a damaged tape source with temporary music cues and some missing sound effects. The scene gives both the mother and grandmother characters more to do, but is a bit anti-climactic.

The revised ending (11 minutes) appears with muddy audio commentary by replacement director Tony Kayden. He says he was hired to punch things up and tells production stories of the troubled four-day shoot. Other topics include his memories of working with the cast and some earlier drafts of the script.

The original theatrical trailer provides a look at the misleading ad campaign pitching the movie as an action-packed horror movie.

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Movie: Twoandahalfstars Flowers In The Attic Small
Buy Amazon Us
Flowers In The Attic Small
Buy Amazon Uk
Video: Threeandahalfstars
Audio: Threeandahalfstars
Features: Fourandahalfstars
Overall: Threeandahalfstars

About The Author
ZigZag
Author: ZigZag
Staff Writer
ZigZag's favorite genres include horror (foreign and domestic), Asian cinema and pornography (foreign and domestic). His ability to seek out and enjoy shot on video (SOV) horror movies is unmatched. His love of films with a budget under $100,000 is unapologetic.
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