Film Review: Flowers in the Attic (1987)

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With nowhere else to go, a recent widower takes her four children to live with their stern grandmother. But this isn’t the cookie-baking, hug-mongering kind of granny. Oh, huh-uh. This grandma views her daughter and grandchildren as vile sinners. The wicked old woman (played by Nurse Ratched herself, Oscar-winner Louise Fletcher) religiously brainwashes the mother and locks the children in a single room, where they are tortured, poisoned, and left to die.

This film version of V. C. Andrews’ popular novel is considerably toned down (gone is the incest between the two oldest siblings), and the acting is uneven and over-the-top at times, but the film still conjures a wonderfully creepy atmosphere and some truly sadistic moments of melodrama. Scenes where the mother visits the confined children and promises that things will get better have an unsettling undercurrent about them. We know that Mom is selling the kids out… to the grave! And at one point we actually see the groundskeeper preparing graves for all the children, well ahead of their demise. It’s one thing to off children in a horror movie, but offing them slowly? Truly wicked stuff.

I’ve always loved movies where children are forced to fend for themselves, but these kids not only rescue themselves, they get revenge. Kristy Swanson (the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer) plays the oldest daughter and the brooding score is provided by Hellraiser maestro, Christopher Young (too bad the soundtrack is long out of print).

I rarely say this, but I think this one is ripe for a remake — especially if they place in the hands of a filmmaker who isn’t afraid to go the distance.

Rating: 4/5 ★★★★☆ 

Into the Dark: Film Review - Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Jeb Stuart Adams, Lindsay Parker, and Kristy Swanson play condemned siblings in "Flowers in the Attic."

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About Scott_S

Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)

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