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.
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
Length: 1 Hour 33 minutes
Sub-Genre: Psychological Thriller