I see from Twitter that this is an auspicious occasion for fans of campy acting choices:
Where secrets are kept, a dark legacy awaits.. NEVER cross a grandmother 👵!— ArrowFilmsVideo (@ArrowFilmsVideo) November 20, 2020
On this day in 1987, FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC 🌸 broke out in 🇺🇸 theaters! pic.twitter.com/CbyF2QgU63
And if there's one film full of performances that cry out to be boned, pressed, and packed in water like Danish ham, it's this adaptation of the V.C. Andrews novel. So for those who may have missed it, here's Bill S.'s gentle but thorough colonoscopic survey.
Last week, in celebration of Mother's Day, I offered up my annual list of Bad Movie Moms. There are some movie depictions of bad motherhood that need more than just a paragraph or two, but require a column all to themselves. In compiling my list this year, I came across two such films, Flowers In the Attic (1987) and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot! (1992). After careful consideration, I determined that if I were to sit through the latter a second time, I'd probably want to shoot myself (I might -- repeat, might -- consider it next year), so I opted for the former. I have to confess I hadn't watched it in over 20 years, but I recalled it featuring not one, but two awful moms, and that I gave it a one-star rating after viewing it. (I should explain: back in the '80's when our family had HBO, I used to watch as many movies as I could, then keep track of them in a notebook, assigning star ratings to them. I'm aware of how geeky that is, which is why I no longer do it.)
So I viewed it again, and it all came back to me, much like a bad lunch coming back up. This picture's not so much creepy as it is "cringy." It's based on a book, the first in a series following the same characters, by V.C. Andrews. I've never read it, or any of her work. Perhaps someone who has can tell me how best to rate the quality of her writing: A-Passable, B-Mediocre, C-Terrible or D-"Sweet Lordy Gordy, How Did the Editors Refrain From Gouging Out Their Eyes After the First Three Pages?" Ms. Andrews passed away before the movie was released into theaters, but was on the set during production, and even makes a cameo appearance as a servant washing an upstairs window. She was reportedly pleased with the script and the casting of Kristy Swanson* in the lead role, both of which makes me think whatever illness she succumbed to impaired her mental judgement.
Cathy is especially close to her father, who considers her his favorite, and, away from the other kids, gives her a Very Special Gift, a ceramic ballerina. We in the audience begin taking bets as to who's going to the smash the thing. Since we see Corinne peering in with envy, she's our first candidate.
The family packs up and hops on a bus. Corinne informs them they're going to her parents' home, a stately mansion known as Foxworth Hall. We learn that she comes from a wealthy family, but is estranged from her parents, because, she explains, many years ago, she did something that displeased her father, and was disinherited. But on the bright side, he's now so old and decrepit, he's likely to kick the bucket, and her plan is to win back his love and put her back in the will before he croaks. I can see no flaw in this plan. No, none at all.