I read "Flowers in the attic" during my pre-teens and I was captured by the story and by the characters. I envisioned them to be almost doll like and beautiful and especially the mother. Usually when a woman is very beautiful she passes on her beautiful traits to her children. The first time I saw this movie was at the age 13. I sat there about as riveted as a 13 year old can be. And when it went off, I thought to myself "that was a pretty good movie". And I took that thinking with me, all through these years...until today, when I saw it for the second time. This time I watched the movie through an adult eye, and thought to myself, "Wow, this movie is really bad"
This is a classic Bad Movie element especially when the film is a book adaptation. It generally means that the filmmakers are afraid that they'll be unable to cram enough of the book's contents into the movie. For those who don't know, the story is about four beautiful children (Chris (Jeb Stuart Adams), Cathy (Kristy Swanson), Carrie (Lindsey Parker), and Cory (Ben Ryan Ganger), who are locked away in a room by their selfish mother (Victoria Tennant), with a filthy attic as their playground. Their cruel heartless Grandmother (Louise Fletcher) brainwashes the small children, Cory and Carrie, into thinking that they are "devil's spawn", and they are painfully malnourished. They live each day as if it were a year, sadly awaiting the truths that are to come from their greedy mother. The narration is used to jam as much expository dialog and back-story down our craw as we can stomach. The narrator is an older version of Cathy, the main character, looking back at the film's events. The movie was nothing compared to the book. Maybe a few scenes here and there to tell you that you are watching the movie version of "flowers in the attic", but nothing major. It did not keep me on the edge of my seat at all. I also read a book called "Garden of Shadows" which leads up to the story of "Flowers in the attic".
Come to fine out the studio snuck out the actually rating quietly. First, the story had to be changed to PG-13 rating so there's no incest at all--not even suggested. The tortures their grandmother puts them through were softened or eliminated entirely. They aren't up there for three years. And they completely changed the ending (although it WAS great to see the mother get it at the end). All the changes drained the story of any impact it might have had. Acting didn't help--Louise Fletcher is a great actress but her role was rather wooden and farce; Victoria Tennant was even worse as the mother; Kristy Swanson overplayed her role a LOT. Only Jeb Stuart Adams gave a halfway good performance. It was no great piece of acting but okay.
I would really love it if some really great director came out with the movie version of "Garden of Shadows" and as the follow up with a remake of "Flowers in the Attic". And if the movie is recreated I would really like to see that the characters look as if they are described in the book and also they should at least be real blondes and try not to leave out the most explosive scenes. People love drama and to leave out the most dramatic parts of the book makes no sense. Chris and Cathy's romance is essential as a theme of the book because it parallels the 'evil breeds evil' theme that the grandmother believes in and what the children come to realize later: what *true* evil is. To be fair to the movie, a faithful adaptation of the book would probably be way too grim for a movie (and get an NC-17 rating) but diluting it completely AND adding lousy acting isn't the way to go!