ANOTHER TAKE ON: Flowers In the Attic (1987)

I can hear you now — we already covered the 1987 version of this story. We covered the 2014 remake, as well as the three sequels that came out of it, Petals on the WindIf There Be Thorns and Seeds of Yesterday. What else could I posibly have to say about VC Andrews and the Dollanganger family?

Oh you know me. Plenty.

After years of dealing with a DVD that had quite literally no extras — barely even a DVD menu, to be honest, as it came out so many eons ago — it’s awesome to have a 1080p blu ray release of this sitting on our shelf.

Originally published in 1979, VC Andrews’ novel Flowers in the Attic was a monster sensation, with multiple sequels and even a cottage industry of books from the author that continued to be written after the passing of the author, thanks to the miracle of ghost writers like Andrew Neiderman.

Blood Beach and Nightmares director Jeffrey Bloom ended up in charge of this film after Wes Craven’s script struck producers as too dark. This would be the first of many clashes between creative and producers, ending with, well, an ending that no one was happy with. More on that later.

After the sudden death of their father, the Dollanganger’s — Chris, Cathy, Cory and Carrie along with their mother Corrine — go to live with her parents, the same people who disowned her years ago once they learned of her incestuous relationship that spawned the children.

Corinne makes a bargain — both with her childen and her mother. They will stay in the attic — get the title now? — and never be seen or heard from, while she will work to get back into the good graces of her terminally ill father. The goal is for them to have the money they need to live their lives, but that payoff seems further and further away as the family is pretty much left to rot.

What follows is pure mania — a rat becomes a pet, pastries are poisoned, brothers bathe sisters, moms get whipped — and I couldn’t be happier. This is the kind of movie that you’re kind of amazed ever got made.

Because after all, this movie is a nearly impossible film to get right, as how can you make everyone happy? Those that have never read the books are going to be shocked by the incest. And the fans of the book are going to want more of it. There’s no way to make one of these groups of people happy without angering the other. The Lifetime remakes just went all in and were less worried, but they were also made nearly thirty years later.

You can see VC Andrews in the film briefly, as she plays a maid cleaning the windows. I always thought that was kind of cool, except that I spend much of the movie looking for her and never paying attention. Kristy Swanson, who plays Cathy, has said that Andrews told her she looked exactly as she pictured the character when she was writing the book. Andrews died before the film was released.

Castle Hill in Ipswich, Massachusetts was the shooting location for this movie, with reshoots done at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills. These are the same two locations where The Witches of Eastwick was also made.

The new Arrow Video release is packed with extras, which is why I’ve sought it out even though I’ve bought this film more than once. It has new audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine, as well as interviews with cinematographer Frank Byers, production designer John Muto, actor Jeb Stuart Adams and composer Christopher Young, as well as the original trailer and a production gallery of behind-the-scenes images, illustrations and storyboards.

The real reason to grab this is because it features the original studio-vetoed ending, which I’ve never had the opportunity to see before. It’s been kind of a holy grail after loving this movie so much and it’s awesome to finally have that pay off. Plus, you get the revised ending with commentary by replacement director Tony Kayden, which gives plenty of insight into this troubled production. 

You can watch this on Tubi, but for the best possible experience, grab the new blu ray release from Arrow Video. You can also get it from Diabolik DVD.

DISCLAIMER: We were sent this movie by Arrow Video, but that doesn’t impact our review.

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