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Flowers in the Attic
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, author and editor-in-chief of Diabolique Magazine
  • Home Sweet Home: Filming Flowers in the Attic, a new interview with cinematographer Frank Byers
  • Fear & Wonder: Designing Flowers in the Attic, a new interview with production designer John Muto
  • The Devilís Spawn: Playing Flowers in the Attic, a new interview with actor Jeb Stuart Adams
  • Shattered Innocence: Composing Flowers in the Attic, a new interview with composer Christopher Young
  • Production gallery of behind-the-scenes images, illustrations and storyboards
  • The original, studio-vetoed ending
  • The revised ending with commentary by replacement director Tony Kayden
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Haunt Love

Flowers in the Attic

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Jeffrey Bloom
1987 | 93 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: November 12, 2019
Review Date: November 16, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

When her husband dies in a tragic accident, widow Corrine Dollanganger (Victoria Tennant, The Holcroft Covenant) takes her four children to the ancestral family home she fled before they were born. Locked away in the attic by their tyrannical grandmother (Academy Awardģ winner Louise Fletcher, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest), it falls to older brother and sister Chris (Jeb Stuart Adams, The Goonies) and Cathy (Kristy Swanson, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) to care for their younger siblings. But with their mother growing increasingly distant and erratic and a mysterious sickness taking hold, will any of the Dollanganger children survive to escape the clutches of the house's cruel matriarch? Originally published in 1979, VC Andrews' novel Flowers in the Attic was a smash hit, spawning four sequels and going on to sell over 40 million copies worldwide. With undercurrents of incest and child abuse and a haunting score by Christopher Young (Hellraiser), Flowers in the Attic is a dark and chilling Gothic suspense thriller in the classic tradition.


PICTURE

Arrow Video brings their edition of Jeffrey Bloomís adaptation of V.C. Andrewís Flowers in the Attic to North America on Blu-ray, presenting the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc.

Unfortunately the 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation comes from an older high-def restoration, which has been provided to Arrow. Itís not terrible but itís obvious this is old, probably made for DVD initially. It retains grain but it comes off fairly noisy, almost looking compressed. The details of the image are limited, not handling the finer details all that well (they come off smudgy), but everything else at least comes off clear and distinct, not overly soft, and there is no edge-enhancement to speak of. Colours look pretty good, though this isnít the cheeriest looking film most of the time, meaning weíre stuck with lots of browns and such, but there is the odd pop of colour and whites look good. Black levels are a bit muddled and this causes some crushing in the shadows, and blacks rarely ever look all that black.

The biggest surprise, though, is the level of damage still present. The opening credits are littered with scratches, dirt, and hair, and while this does subside after the opening there are still plenty of marks that pop up throughout the remainder of the film. Iím assuming Arrow didnít do further restoration, though in all honesty I almost doubt it would have been worth it.

Itís a shame that Arrow was not in the position to give the film a new restoration and Iím unsure why they were unable to; considering itís still fairly popular (at least more popular than something like Apprentice to Murder) I would have thought it would have been an option. While this presentation can have its moments itís still an incredibly mediocre one, only offering a general upgrade from DVD.

6/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The filmís lossless PCM 2.0 stereo surround presentation sounds a little dated as well, with Christopher Youngís music and dialogue coming off a little bit edgy during louder moments, while sounding filtered overall. At the very least itís clean and doesnít present any severe damage.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Though the presentation is sorely lacking, making me think Arrow was just trying to get this out as quickly as possible, they have put together a rather impressive and caring collection of supplements, that defend the film to a certain degree while also addressing its shortcomings and why those shortcomings are there. The most enjoyable and affectionate inclusion is an audio commentary by Kat Ellinger, who not only has an affinity to the film, but also one with the original novel and its sequels (and V.C. Andrewsí work as a whole). I admit that I find the film problematic to say the least, but, as she has done with genre films I canít say Iíve cared all that much for, she had me looking at the film a little differently through defending the film as an adaptation, placing it in the context of its release, and selling the filmís obvious and not-so-obvious strengths. She also talks about the original novel and the other novels in the series, points out the differences found in the adaptation (how the film changes the ending and lacks anything incestuous, outside of the main plot driver), and even talks about the Lifetime movie, which she doesnít appear to be a fan of (I havenít seen it). And she also gets into the Gothic elements of both the novel(s) and film, while also touching on the filmís troublesome production history that even had the likes of Wes Craven involved at one point. Itís an incredibly insightful and passionate track, something I would have never expected, and itís certainly worth a listen, even if you outright hate the film.

Arrow also presents a number of interviews with members of the cast and crew. Cinematographer Frank Byers talks for 8-minutes about working with director Bloom on catching the right look for the novel and talking a little about the issues Bloom had with New World (he says ďthey changed the story a little bitĒ). Actor Jeb Stuart Adams also pops up to talk about his role, from getting it to working with Kristy Swanson and then talking about material they shot that was cut out (which he calls barely PG-rated kissing between him and Swanson). He also addresses criticisms lobbed against the film but defends it. Composer Christopher Young also pops up to talk about how he was brought in to save the score as the filmmaker and studio were looking to use a more standard horror score.

But the best interview here has to be with production designer John Muto. He was young and had a lot to learn for his first real production on his own (he admits he never thought of aging the sets, with others having to come in to do that) but he went right into this project head first, taking with him a lot of what he learned through the years from others, from things he had read, and talks he had gone to. The budget was small so he had to rely on old tricks to like forced perspective to create the feel of a large space, along with a number of cheats to get around other limitations. But the advantage of this interview over the others is that we also get excellent visual aids to go along with Mutoís comments through design drawings, production photos, and even Muto showing off his original models for the sets. An excellent 14-minute inclusion.

There are then a couple of features around the altered ending. The original ending has been dug up, though unfortunately through a shoddy video copy. Other than extended moments between the groundskeeper and Louise Fletcher grandmother this ending isnít as heavy-handed. Arrow then provides the revised ending (the one used for the finished film) with an audio commentary by the writer and director of this sequence, Tony Kayden. Kayden admits to never having read any of the books, which explains the route he would go: he was aiming to please the audience that had never read the book, not the bookís fans. Despite some questionable decisions on Kaydenís part this is an incredibly illuminating addition, Kayden talking about the quick turnaround for this sequence (he had to get it all done within four days) and the many compromises he had to make.

Arrow then includes a couple of standard features: a production gallery, a self-playing gallery that runs about 5-minutes, followed by the filmís theatrical trailer. The included booklet then features an essay on the film and its production, written by Bryan Reesman. He also covers the issues around the ending, the nervousness around the incest plotling, poor test screenings, and its growth in stature over years.

In all I was very impressed with the material, all of it very strong, managing to make me appreciate the film a bit more. A wonderful amount of effort on Arrowís part.

9/10

CLOSING

The presentation is open to improvement (and Iím still a little shocked it didnít get a new restoration) but the supplementary material is terrific and I think fans of the film will be more than pleased with it.




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Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca