A special treat was released in March for those fond of Jeffrey Bloom’s 1987 adaptation of Flowers in the Attic. At least, for fans living in the United Kingdom. Arrow Films has distributed a new Blu-ray edition of this film based upon V.C. Andrews’ seminal novel. This release contains new interviews and audio commentaries. Furthermore, two versions of the script are downloadable from the disc. One is the infamous version penned by Wes Craven.

One thrilling special feature of note includes the original studio-vetoed ending. Recently, Bloom shared a copy of his screenplay with me. A treasured artifact in my collection of movie memorabilia, the text offered insight into this polarizing film. In an earlier article, I detailed the experience of reading this script. I concluded that in today’s world of Blu-ray there would be an automatic inclusion of this alternate ending. The actual hope of this occurring seemed improbable. At last, the admirers of this film version will be satiated with the worthwhile special features. Even those critical of the movie will have their interest piqued.

The cover artwork is newly commissioned by Arrow Films. Haunt Love’s modern print blasts away the generic DVD covers designed for this flick in the past. A ballerina emerges from the different shades of red. She rises above the ominous mansion featured in the film. The cover is reversible, and the other side displays the original theatrical poster. Inside the case is a booklet presenting additional artwork and detailed behind-the-scenes information. Bloom gives an interview for the essay and engages on a multitude of topics. These range from the switched ending to the Lifetime remake.

Loaded with special features, Arrow Films clearly did their research. Highlighted portions include interviews with Jeb Stuart Adams and composer, Christopher Young. Mr. Adams portrayed eldest son, Christopher, in the film. He reveals tidbits surrounding the cut scenes of incest and the relationships with his fellow actors. This is one of the only interviews from Adams since the release, and his anecdotes are amusing. Young reveals how he became involved late in production. The relationships behind-the-scenes were becoming hostile and Young’s hauntingly beautiful score temporarily mended a few bridges.

Other interviews discuss the construction of the attic and how various sequences were shot. The commentaries are incredibly interesting for fans of the original film. Kat Ellinger is the editor-in-chief of Diabolique magazine. She contributes a wealth of information and discusses how the film has a deserved place in the horror genre. Additionally, Tony Kayden includes a commentary on the ending. Negative test screenings led to New World deciding to film a new ending. Kayden was chosen as Bloom’s replacement and lists the reasons why particular choices were made. He also follows up on his relationships to the cast and crew.

Flowers-Attic-Louise-Fletcher-Grandmother

The major reason to own this Blu-ray is the studio-vetoed ending. The ending was transferred from a poor-quality Betamax tape. Despite the tracking issues, the content is fascinating. While die-hard fans of the novel will instantly poke out all the problematic elements, the original choice left the door open for a sequel. This finale was designed to satiate the fans of the late 1980’s slasher genre. There are a series of disturbing images. The entire climax is far more intense than the “eat the cookie” theatrical ending. The kids barely escape the menacing caretaker. The confrontation with Victoria Tennant (Mother) plays out differently. A special effect involving Louise Fletcher (Grandmother) is cheesy and, yet, surprisingly scary. The audience response in 1987 may not have been improved; however, this ending would have left an indisputable impact.

Arrow Films has no intention of releasing this Blu-ray in the United States. Audiences with a Region A player will have to wait until this selection is available. I had to endure my own odyssey in obtaining a copy. And it was worth it. Since the age of twelve, I have been a fan of the novel and the original film. When I found out there was an alternate ending, I immediately began researching a way to watch this different take on the finale. After twenty years, I was not going to be stopped. As a fan of the slasher genre, I thoroughly enjoyed this alternate interpretation. A different set of problems arise had they gone in this direction. Yet, the rest of the film’s setup makes more sense.

The 1987 adaptation is a guilty pleasure of mine. There are problematic elements, especially for die-hard fans of the novel. However, Bloom succeeds in capturing the gothic, fairytale atmosphere from the novel. Performances by Louise Fletcher and Kristy Swanson are exceptional. This is the definitive release of Flowers in the Attic. One criticism with this Blu-ray is the lack of input from any of the leading ladies. Jeb Stuart Adams delivers a welcome contribution to the special features. Nevertheless, the heart and soul of the film belongs to Swanson, Fletcher, and Victoria Tennant as Mother. As proven by this U.K. release, anything is still possible.

WICKED RATING: 9/10 (Blu-ray)
Director(s): Jeffrey Bloom
Writer(s): Jeffrey Bloom, V.C Andrews (novel)
Stars:  Kristy Swanson, Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant, Jeb Stuart Adams
Release: March 12, 2018 (Home Video)
Studio/ Production Co: Fries Entertainment, Arrow Films (Blu-ray)
Budget: $5 Million
Language: English
Length: 1 Hour 33 minutes
Sub-Genre: Psychological Thriller

  • Danielle Almendra

    This article really touched upon my take of the alternate ending. I agree that there were definitely aspects that would be picked apart by diehard fans. I enjoyed the interview with Jeb Stuart Adams and his explanation and opinion of the incestuous screens being omitted from the film. I really do believe if these original screens had been left in that fans and the film would have been more recognized as a true adaption of the book.

    • Justin Steele

      A thousand percent agree. I still hope (although, I think using the word “hope” is an odd choice) that we someday still get those brother-sister scenes. I have no idea if they still exist. They must somewhere. It would be pretty awesome if they do a U.S. release of this definitive version to have them included. As well as, at least, a Kristy Swanson interview. Obviously Ms. Fletcher and Ms. Tennant, too, but at lease Kristy! Still, I don’t want to be too greedy b/c this release was more than I ever dared hoped to see.

      • Noirdame

        I agree, I’m thrilled about this Blu-Ray release, but disappointed that it’s only Region B (Justin, if you don’t mind my asking, how did you obtain a copy to watch?). I don’t know if my starting a petition for the director’s cut to be released had anything to do with it (I did contact Jeffrey Bloom on Facebook to inquire if he had any info about the cut footage, but unfortunately, he did not but he said he would like to see his original cut restored), but this is welcome news. Too bad this edition is not available in Region A format. I’m very interested to see one of the earlier endings (bad shape or not) and to hear Jeb’s comments. Kristy Swanson has also talked about the cut scenes. I hope this Blu-Ray is released in Region A someday soon. Hopefully the cut scenes still exist and will also be released. Thank you, Justin for the review and information.

        • Justin Steele

          Noirdame (great name, btw), I cherish my copy. I simply ordered it off of Amazon U.K. and ended up purchasing a region-free Blu-ray player online. The Blu-ray came and I researched a thousand ways to watch it. As far as I can tell (and believe me I tried), the only way to play it was to get a region-free/multi-region Blu-ray player. I purchased mine from 220-electronics. It wasn’t cheap, but it wasn’t crazy expensive, either. I offset some of the cost by selling my old Blu-ray player. The cool thing is that they were the EXACT same, except my new one is multi-region A, B, C. Even the remote control was the same. If you go this route, make sure you hit the add-on of Multi-region A, B, C. And isn’t Jeffrey, like, the sweetest guy ever? Completely willing to discuss everything and just really kind. I feel so satiated finally having the alternate ending available, and yet, I still hope hope hope for a complete cut of his intended version. Like I said, I really can’t tell if the ending is better or worse and I really don’t care. It gave me chills, and I am still in partial disbelief that it exists. This has always been one of my favorite movies. I wish you luck!

          • Noirdame

            Justin, thanks for the info. I did download a multi-region Blu-ray player to my laptop, but I wouldn’t mind getting an actual player. The ones I saw online were quite expensive, so I think I’ll shop around in my area. I added the Blu-ray to my cart at Amazon UK. I agree, Jeffrey is very kind and down to earth. He emailed me a PDF of the disc’s liner notes. Even though the filming and post-production was not a good time for him, I appreciate the fact that he’s willing to talk about the film. I do like the theatrical version (despite its flaws) and I adore Christopher Young’s score, even though he wasn’t Jeffrey’s choice. But of course, the film would have fared better if those crucial scenes (not just the incest, but any other plot points that may have been cut out) had remained. From the brief snippet I saw, the vetoed ending looks a bit campy regarding the grandmother, and definitely was shot with horror fans in mind, but I think it’s probably better than the studio ending for two reasons: it leaves the film open for a sequel (as was Jeffrey’s intention) and the continuity is better. What’s always bothered me about the studio ending (other than killing off Corrine) was the fact that it was obviously done at a different location and that the make-up that made the kids look malnourished an sunlight-deprived was not re-created, and that is what makes it even more jarring; the previous scene (where Chris knocks the grandmother unconscious) and the very last scene where they leave Foxworth Hall was obviously taken from one of the earlier endings (perhaps the first one Jeffrey shot) is proof that not much care and attention was taken to make it all fit together. I hope to get my player and Blu-ray soon, and here’s hoping that the other cut footage still exists and will be released someday.