We Watched Flowers in the Attic So You Didn't Have To

It is a truth often told that "Flowers in the Attic" is the most important book ever written for women, at least for women currently in their 30s and 40s. 56-year-old V.C. Andrews gave us so much in this campy, insane tome. And somehow, a creepy book about being locked in an attic and making sex with your brother has been a reliable bestseller for decades. Go figure!


This past weekend, we got a second movie adaptation: a Lifetime TV production starring the inimitable Ellen Burstyn, the darling Kiernan Shipka (Sally Draper!) and of course, the unforgettable Heather Graham. My dear friend and longtime comedy partner/trauma doula Diana Saez flew all the way to Los Angeles from her home in Minneapolis just to watch the heinous movie and make this video with me for you, dear readers. May it bless your life in the way that this made-for-TV disaster blessed ours. You'll also spot our official mixologist, Stacey Garratt; comedian Benari Poulten (AKA GI Jew) and the disembodied voice of comedian H. Alan Scott, who basically lay on the floor the entire time and said things too horrible and bitchy to be included in the final edit. Oh, and just so you know, the sex in the movie is portrayed as fully consensual. Um, yeah. Enjoy, my darling petals in the wind, enjoy.

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I read these books as a pre-teen and I have no idea why that was allowed. It shouldn't have been, on the grounds that they were shitty literature. I also saw the Victoria Tenant movie, which I thought was whitewashed quite a bit.

This movie version, and yes I watched the entire sick, twisted movie in all it's perversion, is more faithful to the novel than the previous movie. The storyline itself still creeps me out. Heather Graham was perfect as the mom — she really communicated that spacey, I'll-sell-my-kids-out-no-prob attitude that you got from reading the book. What's missing from both is an explanation of the mother's motivation. Who would see their four children locked in an attic, [SPOILERS] starved, tortured, not educated, abused and malnourished until you finally decide to poison them yourself to get rid of them? Why didn't she just abandon them in the first place? Leave 'em at a train station and just go? It's as if the mom purposely set out to torture and abuse her children to death, but there is never any explanation or logic presented as to why a person would do such things. I think that's why the books and movies always fall flat: the motivation behind the most important plot points are ignored in favor of gettin' right to the incest. Ew.

Anyway, all that blather just to say: Ellen Burstyn fucking KILLED it. She was incredible. Really terrific performance. I was completely on her side by the end of the film, just because she was the only person in the movie who could act, apparently.

ETA: I should also point out that the main character's obsession with ballet and becoming a ballerina (which is what the next three or four books is based on) — I don't remember being a part of the movie at all. I don't remember Christopher putting up the barre for her, or the ballet practice, or any of that... So I take back what I said about faithful to the novel. But still. Ellen Burstyn. Totally worth watching just for her.