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Flowers in the Attic

USA 1987
produced by
Thomas Fries, Sy Levin, Charles W. Fries (executive), Mike Rosenfeld (executive) for Fries Entertainment/New World
directed by Jeffrey Bloom
starring Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Kristy Swanson, Jeb Stuart Adams, Ben Ryan Ganger, Lindsay Parker, Marshall Colt, Nathan Davis, Brooke Fries, Alex Koba, Leonard Mann, Bruce Neckels, Gus Peters, Clare Peck (voice), V.C. Andrews
screenplay by Jeffrey Bloom, based on the novel by V.C. Andrews, music by Christopher Young

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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After the death of her husband (Marshall Colt) it's only a matter of time until Corinne's (Victoria Tennant) money ran out - after all, she has four mouths to feed, her teenaged children Cathy (Kristy Swanson) and Chris (Jeb Stuart Adams), and the young twins Cory (Ben Ryan Ganger) and Carrie (Lindsay Parker). So as a last resort, she and the children move back with her parents (Louise Fletcher, Nathan Davis). Sure, she has grown distant from her parents ever since her marriage, to an extent that she has been disowned, but she figures they won't just let her and her children die out in the streets - and she also figures her dad is terminally ill, so if she can win back his love on his death bed, that might mean a bright future for her and the kids. Thing is, Corinne's mother detests her children, as they were born out of sin (she claims), and thus locks them away in the attic, and only feeds them once a day. The kids don't like it, but Corinne assures them it's alright and only for a short stretch of time anyhow. But days turn into weeks, weeks into months, all the while Corinne's visits to the children grow fewer and fewer until they just stop. And grandma forgets to feed them more and more often as well. The twins grow sick after a while, and Cathy and Chris do the best they can do to look after them, but they're themselves mere teens with a lack of basic resources. Having found a secret way down from the attic though, they start to find out a little of what's going on: Seems their mother leads a luxurious life downstairs, and is even engaged to a lawyer, Winslow (Leonard Mann), a man her mother very much approves of. They also find out their grandfather has long died, while his will states Corinne will inherit his estate only if there are no children from her marriage to their father - meaning she has become an accomplice in locking them up and hiding them away. Then Cory dies, and he might have been poisoned, and the kids learn that Corinne is going to get married to Winslow - thus they have to act now or perish forever ...

 

Flowers in the Attic sure is a powerful piece of psychological horror that is allowed to develop its full and rather gruesome potential due to its slowburn build-up. Actually, the film's first act shows little promise (and maybe intentionally so) other than a well-acted and slickly filmed but outdated-before-its-time historical drama, with its true level of terror only gradually growing out of the set-up situation. And while the direction might seem old-fashioned at first, it really serves the story later on while remaining subtle enough to not give too much away at once. And a strong cast of course do their part to make this work.

Recommended for sure.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
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Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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out now on DVD