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Jeffrey Bloom
Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Kristy Swanson
Writing Credits:
Jeffrey Bloom

Children are hidden away in the attic by their conspiring mother and grandmother.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English PCM 1.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 11/12/2019

• Audio Commentary with Film Historian Kat Ellinger
• Interview with Cinematographer Frank Byers
• Interview with Production Designer John Muto
• Interview with Actor Jeb Stuart Adams
• Interview with Composer Christopher Young
• Original Ending
• Revised Ending with Commentary
• Production Gallery
• Trailer


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Flowers in the Attic [Blu-Ray] (1987)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (November 27, 2019)

Based on VC Andrews’ hit 1979 novel, 1987’s Flowers in the Attic introduces us to the Dollanger family. After the sudden death of her husband (Marshall Colt), Corrine Dollanger (Victoria Tennant) becomes the single mother of teen kids Cathy (Kristy Swanson) and Chris (Jeb Stuart Adams) as well as five-year-old twins Cory (Ben Ryan Ganger) and Carrie (Lindsay Parker).

In need of financial assistance, Corrine moves with the kids to live with her mother Olivia Foxworth (Louise Fletcher). Along with reclusive husband Malcolm (Nathan Davis), Olivia owns a huge, decrepit mansion, and all seven reside together there.

However, this doesn’t go well for the kids, as Corrine and Olivia choose to keep them trapped in an isolated part of the house. As the kids waste away, Corrine and Olivia pursue their own desires.

When the novel hit shelves in 1979, I was in seventh grade, and I remember it seemed like every kid in my school had a copy. Even though I liked horror books back then, I skipped it, probably because it came with a “girlie” vibe that didn’t appeal to me.

Not only did I never see the film, but also I didn’t even remember that it existed. This may stem from its lackluster commercial reception, as Flowers made only $15 million, a weak sum for a flick taken from a famous novel even in 1987 dollars.

I can’t claim that I missed anything, as the cinematic take on Flowers offers a wholly inept fable. Maybe the source produces scary elements, but the movie winds up as an unintentionally campy dud.

Which seems shocking given the dark nature of the story. In addition to the child abuse themes mentioned above, we find signs of incest and other unpleasant subjects.

None of these pack a punch. Whatever power the story may boast, the film finds itself unable to bring to these components screen.

While Flowers persistently hints at incest, it never more than toys with the topic and the damage done. We get scads of scenes that clearly push in that direction – Cathy and her dad, Cathy and Chris, Grandpa and Corrine – but these feel like loose asides more than anything else.

This means it seems as though Flowers wants to pretend to pursue Important Issues while it instead just avoids them. There’s no depth or meaning to anything on display.

There’s no drama to be found either, and the movie consistently feels amateurish and silly. Oscar-winning Fletcher appears to understand that she’s trapped in a stinker, so she camps up a storm as the cruel, vindictive grandmother.

The rest of the actors just seem dull. Tennant’s flat performance makes it look like someone drugged her, and Swanson and Adams bring work that’d embarrass soap opera producers.

Nothing here manifests any form of drama or intrigue. Instead, we’re stuck with a sluggish, pointless 92 minutes of nonsense.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio C+/ Bonus B

Flowers in the Attic appears in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image showed its age.

Sharpness varied. While some shots presented pretty good definition, more than a few others suffered from lackluster delineation. The movie usually showed reasonable clarity, but it often looked vaguely soft.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no edge enhancement. Occasional, persistent specks and marks appeared.

Colors were another lackluster element. The film opted for a somber brown feel, and the tones felt dull and flat.

Blacks were decent but unexceptional, and shadows tended to come across as moderately thick. Although I never found this to be a bad transfer, it showed too many concerns to rate higher than a “C”. It simply looked a bit too iffy to satisfy.

Though the Blu-ray’s menu claims it includes a stereo mix, instead we find an LPCM monaural soundtrack. Speech was reasonably natural and concise, though a little distortion cropped up at times. Music showed acceptable clarity, though the score lacked much range.

Effects brought us accurate enough material. This was never a memorable track, but it seemed acceptable when I considered the movie’s era.

As we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from film historian Kat Ettinger. She provides a running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and crew, sets and locations, the American gothic genre and other related fields.

Ettinger’s chat starts slowly, but she gradually builds a pretty good head of steam. We get a nice look at changes from the novel and genre areas as well as production notes in this informative track.

A few featurettes follow, and the first brings an Interview with cinematographer Frank Byers. During the eight-minute, 26-second chat, Byers discusses his work on the film and related experiences. Byers makes this a short but informative reel.

Next comes an Interview with Production Designer John Muto. This one spans 13 minutes, 45 seconds and includes Muto’s thoughts about how he came to the film and how he executed his job. Muto covers the subject matter well.

An Interview with Actor Jeb Stuart Adams fills 13 minutes, 41 seconds with his notes about his career, how he came to the film, other cast/crew and changes made from the source. Adams proves informative and fairly blunt.

Finally, an Interview with Composer Christopher Young runs nine minutes, 33 seconds and examines the movie’s score. He digs into the topics well.

The film’s Original Ending lasts seven minutes, 53 seconds. It adds some campy action to the version found in the final cut. It makes a silly movie even goofier.

We also get the Revised Ending. In this 11-minute, three-second reel, we see the conclusion that appears in the released version of the movie, but we get insights from writer Tony Kayden, the person who came up with it. He gives us some useful notes about this sequence.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a Production Gallery. It brings 70 images that mix design art and storyboards, shots of sets, movie images and advertising. It becomes a positive collection.

Add Flowers to the Attic to the list of successful books adapted into awful movies. Campy, inane and completely free of drama or intrigue, nothing about the film works. The Blu-ray comes with mediocre picture and audio along with a good allotment of bonus materials. Flowers becomes a wholly terrible flick.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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