Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Taglines: The one truth they have yet to face is the terror no one could imagine.

This is a story of four blond children – a couple of strapping teen-agers named Cathy and Chris, who like to sleep in the same bed and keep the bathroom door open, and the little twins, Carrie and Cory. Mother’s name is Corinne. If they have a cat, it could be called Cat.

This cute clan is disrupted by the death of father, whereupon mother (Victoria Tennant) takes them back to the family manse, whence she was kicked out 17 years ago, after marrying her own uncle. She plans to regain the love of her dying father and inherit his fortune.

The young folks are locked in and treated real mean by their grandmother (Louise Fletcher), who calls them “devil’s spawn” and goes so far as to trim Cathy’s golden locks. They spend most of their time in the attic, where their eyes grow cavernous from makeup. But what really gets to the kids is the realization that their own mother has been sprinkling arsenic on their cookies. Well, enough of that, lest, as little Cory, who eats more cookies than is good for him, puts it, “I’ll have to thwow up.”

Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Flowers in the Attic is a 1987 psychological horror film starring Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Kristy Swanson, and Jeb Stuart Adams. It is based on the 1979 novel of the same name by V. C. Andrews. Despite the success of the book on which it is based, the movie was poorly received by both critics and fans.

At one point Wes Craven was scheduled to direct the film, and he even completed a screenplay draft. Producers were disturbed by his approach to the incest-laden story, however, and Jeffrey Bloom ended up with writing and directing duties.

Film Review for Flowers in the Attic

“Flowers in the Attic” is slow, stiff, stupid and senseless, a film utterly lacking in motivation, development and nuance, and further marred by embarrassingly flat acting and directing.

The only possible reason for its existence has to be New World Pictures’ hope that some of the 4 million people who bought the late V.C. Andrews’ book will flock to see it on the screen. Some 60 percent of that original audience was teen-age girls, and at the theater where this screening was caught, the audience did consist largely of teen-age girls and young women. But even they seemed stunned by the sheer ineptitude of the filmmakers.

As a fable about growing up and assuming responsibilities for one’s life, Andrews’ book had much to recommend it, including solid, workwomanlike writing. But the screenplay by Jeffrey Bloom, who also directed, seems to have been written in crayon. He’d like to have made a “Shining,” but careerwise, this is going down as a shiner.

Flowers in the Attic (1987)

After an “ideal family” intro worthy of Steven Spielberg — handsome father, gorgeous mother, two teen-agers and twin tykes — tragedy strikes, eliminating the father and forcing a suddenly penniless Mom (Victoria Tennant) to take the kids to Granddad’s house, which turns out to be as big as Buckingham Palace, only secluded. But she’s never mentioned the grandparents to the kids and, apparently, vice versa.

Seems Granddad’s dying and has already cut her out of his will after disapproving of the marriage (intrafamily, as it was). Grandmother (Louise Fletcher) is convinced the kids are the devil’s spawn, though they look just like your average television sitcom group; to keep them a secret, she and Mom lock them in the attic, pretty much for good, while Mom tries to win back Granddaddy’s love — and, of course, some of the inheritance.

In the book, it all makes sense, but don’t look for similar sense in Bloom’s film, particularly if you’ve never read the book. His script offers no clues, no definition, no evolution. Worse, nobody seems the least bit motivated to do anything, including escape (movie patrons excepted). When in doubt, Bloom resorts to such hoary cliche’s as long shots of the house and estate (we’re in Charles Addams country) and that wordless, tuneless singing that’s supposed to imply insanity. Spare me!

Poor Tennant is absolutely ridiculous as the mother looking to obliterate her past, and Fletcher should talk to her agent about these stereotyped “evil” roles, in which she has become increasingly tedious. As for the kids, the insufferably cute twins (Lindsay Parker and the curly-haired Ben Ganger, who actually looks like he could be Harpo Marx’s son) and those resourceful and determined teens (Kristy Swanson and Jeb Stuart Adams), you wonder why it takes them six months to figure out that something’s not quite right. It looks like ol’ Jeb’s as strong as an ox. Well, maybe he’s as dumb as one, too, and maybe that attic, which is as big as a condo and furnished like a Mazza Gallerie of the imagination, isn’t such a bad place to be.

However, any theater playing this movie most definitely is. At one point, one of the kids complains that “all the money in the world isn’t worth the living that we’ve lost,” a sentiment sure to be shared by anybody who spends a half-dozen bucks on this.

Flowers in the Attic Movie Poster (1987)

Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Directed by: Jeffrey Bloom
Starring: Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Kristy Swanson, Jeb Stuart Adams, Ben Ryan Ganger, Lindsay Parker, Marshall Colt, Nathan Davis, Clare Peck
Screenplay by: Jeffrey Bloom
Production Design by: John Muto
Cinematography by: Frank Byers, Gil Hubbs
Film Editing by: Thomas Fries, Gregory F. Plotts
Costume Design by: Ann Somers Major
Set Decoration by: Michele Starbuck
Music by: Christopher Young
Distributed by: New World Pictures
Release Date: November 20, 1987