Flowers In The Attic Movie Recap: What the F*ck

Hey Paper Dandelions! I watched Flowers in the Attic last weekend, because I make excellent life choices. And I wasn’t the only one, apparently. Not only was FITA trending on Twitter, but it seems everyone and their mom couldn’t stop talking about this hot hot steaming pile of mess.

For those of you who made it through middle school unscathed, Flowers in the Attic was written in 1979 and has since become a young adult classic, for reasons that are entirely mystifying to me. I remember reading and hating the book as a child, so I recently got it from the library to refresh my memory. I was not at all surprised to find that this book is still a literal piece of garbage: clunky writing, horrible characters, and all around a total grossfest. Only this time, I had to endure the public humiliation of being a grown ass woman checking out FITA from my local library. I think Forever Intern Grace summed it up in the three word email she sent me after watching it:

“What the fuck.” – Forever Intern Grace

What the fuck indeed, Grace. Let’s dive in, shall we?

We open at creepy Foxworth Manor, a classic horror mansion with gargoyles, creeping vines, creaky doors, and that classic staple: white sheets on furniture. Why did people do that back in the old timey days? Was it to keep the dust off? Did they like to pretend the furniture was haunted?

Who’s that in the window? Just some maniacal asshole

Who’s that in the window? Just some maniacal asshole

Cathy’s voiceover starts, and I just want to take a moment to say that the actress Kiernan Shipka, aka Sally Draper from Mad Men, is a really great actress. So is Ellen Burstyn. But the voiceover (lifted from the book) is SO heavy handed and clunky it needs a dolly just to move it around.

Speaking of dollies, meet the Dollangangers. They live in Pleasantville and everything is hunky dory so you know that won’t last more than five minutes. We’ve got Dad Dollanganger who goes away on long business trips, mom Corinne played by Heather Graham, and the four kids: teens Chris and Cathy, and little kids Cory and Carrie. This family seems loving and great! Hey, is there something wrong with mom’s eyes?

I don’t know why, but today feels like it’s gonna be a great day!!!

I don’t know why, but today feels like it’s gonna be a great day!!!

Dad has come home from a business trip, and is delighted to see his children of the corn and his crazy eyed wife. Dad and Corinne immediately start grossly tongue-kissing in front of their children, despite having the chemistry of two wet bags of hair. FORESHADOWING! There will be a wet bag of hair later in this movie.

And then I’m gonna put both fists up your father like this!

And then I’m gonna put both fists up your father like this!

So, I feel like we need to address Heather Graham’s full-tilt gonzo acting throughout this entire movie. I mean, her character doesn’t go crazy until (spoiler alert!) later in the movie, but she starts off as an exposition-spewing fembot with crazy eyes and no awareness of social cues. I don’t know if this was an acting choice, or if Heather Graham is actually a crazy person. Every line she says is delivered with the same inflection, and she’s about to say some crazy shit so hold on to your fucking hats.

Cathy is worried her dad will be too busy working to spend time with them, so to cheer her up he gives her a poop diamond from Jared’s. Dad promises he’ll always be there, only to immediately die in the next scene.

The bad news is your father is dead. The good news is #DADFAIL is trending worldwide

The bad news is your father is dead. The good news is #DADFAIL is trending worldwide

Yep, everyone is all dolled up for Dad’s birthday party, except the cops show up and tell them there’s been an accident. Don’t worry, I’m sure Misty Day will show up to revive Dad…whoops, wrong show.

After Dad dies, Corinne tries to get a job and support her family. And by “trying” I mean doing nothing at all. She tells her kids that working is hard and she was just raised to be eye candy. GIRL I FEEL YOU. JK I have three jobs, I feel nothing but endless exhaustion and I don’t have to support four children, just one fat dachshund. I guess what I’m saying is, GET A FUCKING JOB CORINNE!

What is a work job?

What is a work job?

Luckily, there is a terrible solution! Corinne will bring her kids home to her estranged parents, who are rich as fuck and live in Virginia. The kids are excited about A) being millionaires, and B) grandparents they never heard of. Mom tells them to pack their shit because they are leaving in the middle of the night and using fake names like normal people do when moving.

Now don’t forget to bring those corpses into the living as we will be faking our own deaths

Now don’t forget to bring those corpses into the living as we will be faking our own deaths

Well, it’s off to wander around the woods at 3AM and sneak into the back door of our family mansion! The kids are excited to meet their grandmother. Will she be a secret witch hunter? The Queen of Genovia? Sophia Vergara?

Nope! It’s Ellen Burstyn, dressed like a school marm from the 1880’s. Grandma is scary and in no mood for any of your childish shenanigans. She ushers them up the stairs and into a small bedroom. After she closes the door, she asks Corrine if the children are dented cans…um, they’re standing right next to you, Grandma!

Grandma, we’ve seen your angry falcon impression like 500 times

Grandma, we’ve seen your angry falcon impression like 500 times

Corrine assures her the children are perfect, which is kind of fucked up in its own way, right? Like, don’t give your children impossible standards to live up to, lady. Although frankly, if we are talking about bad parenting choices, we have bigger fucking fish to fry.

Grandma freaks the fuck out about Cathy and Chris sharing a bed and seeing each other naked. This will be the first of many freak outs she has about Cathy and Chris fucking each other, which if she was really so concerned about it, she could give them separate fucking rooms!

I’ll just leave this basket of lube and this wiki-list of countries where incest isn’t a crime

I’ll just leave this basket of lube and this wiki-list of countries where incest isn’t a crime

I’m not saying Grandma is encouraging incest, but she does everything short of lighting some candles and cranking up a Ginuwine album. These siblings are gonna get it on.

So here’s the plan: Corinne is gonna keep the kids squirreled away in the attic until she can win over her evil father. Apparently she got disowned at 18 and has to weasel back into his good graces and get re-added to the will. Then she’ll introduce him to the kids. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Jesus mother, how much porn did you cram into that picnic basket?!

Jesus mother, how much porn did you cram into that picnic basket?!

Cathy is already dubious of this batshit plan, but Chris is like, we can do it Mom, we’re Foxworths! Hey dummy: you’ve been a Foxworth for 12 hours, you don’t even know what you’re talking about! The only Foxworth you know just called you simple and fed you from a basket.

So we’ll just live in this dark scary attic alone? Sounds swell!

So we’ll just live in this dark scary attic alone? Sounds swell!

The kids are locked in and Cathy is forced to give her poop diamond to Grandma. The next morning, Grandma gives them a basket of food for the day and a list of rules: keep clean, brush your hair, pray, be quiet and above all don’t fuck each other. If anyone finds out they are in the attic, they’ll be sent away with nothing and punished just for breathing. Everyone is on board with this plan except for Cathy. Cathy might be the only sane person in this movie, you guys.

Never thought she’d miss having Betty Draper as a mother

Never thought she’d miss having Betty Draper as a mother

The kids go up to the attic and find it filled to the brim with costumes, dust, white entitlement, a Victrola, and cobwebs galore. “What a fun place to play!”, said no one except Chris because he’s delusional. Chris also pops a bone just from eyeing a dress form…I think we all know he’ll be humping that dress form before the week is out.

Chris and Cathy try to make a fun game of playing in the attic to distract the younger kids from the reality of being locked in a fucking attic. But the fun doesn’t stop there! Do you want to watch 40 more minutes of traumatized children brutally fighting against their hellish reality with only construction paper and a handful of macaroni art? Then this is your fucking movie, you weirdo.

I told you to pretend we are outside PRETEND HARDER I DON’T BELIEVE YOU

I told you to pretend we are outside PRETEND HARDER I DON’T BELIEVE YOU

At the end of the day, Corinne limps into the room, telling the kids that everything is fine. Grandma yells at her to take off her shirt, but not before smacking around the younger children. Corinne tells her that she can’t be mean to them or else they’ll all leave…um, that’s not how leverage works, Corrine.

Grandma laughs at her and makes her take her top off. Corrine’s back is covered with whip marks, which is crazy because I think we all know Ellen Burstyn does not have the upper body strength to beat the crap out of Heather Graham. I mean, it would be like getting beaten up by Mr. Burns at this point. I’m not saying that Ellen Burstyn isn’t a strong, beautiful woman…I’m just saying that a sock full of quarters might cause her to tip over.

Corrine makes the not at all crazy decision to tell Chris and Cathy to act like parents to the little kids. She also allows Grandma to call her marriage an abomination and her children spawn of the devil. You guys, grandma is a real fucking cunt.

See You Next Tuesday, Nana

See You Next Tuesday, Nana

But why is grandma so cunty? Corrine sits the kids down and drops yet another in a long and traumatic series of bombshells. First, they can do whatever they want in the attic because Grandma is claustrophobic and won’t go into the attic.

Real Talk: THAT ATTIC IS ENORMOUS. It is bigger than their entire room. Why isn’t she claustrophobic in that tiny room? This is nonsense.

But the real bombshell is why Corrine was excommunicated from the family. She fell in love with her dad’s half brother and eloped with him. Surprise! You’re all the product of an incestuous marriage!

Hey Uncle Brother!

Hey Uncle Brother!

Corrine tells the kids that Grandma was convinced they’d be born with tails and cloven hooves, because Satan, but they are beautiful and perfect like dolls. Way to reinforce physical appearance as the only barometer of worth, Corrine! You are nailing this whole parenting thing.

There’s got to be something more to life than being really really really good looking

There’s got to be something more to life than being really really really good looking

Corrine also tells them that love can’t be controlled, that love happens against your will. You know what else happens against your will? RAPE. Chris is immediately okay with being an incest baby, but Cathy is like, okay this is awful, let’s get the fuck out of here. Corrine assures her she’s held captive as well…except for the captivity part. She’s going through the exact same thing except not at all.

I’m in a prison too, Chris! A prison of wealth and jewels and Saturday sailing trips!

I’m in a prison too, Chris! A prison of wealth and jewels and Saturday sailing trips!

While the kids are desperately crafting against the encroaching darkness of their lives, Grandma comes in to spy on them. Cathy, who is still hoping to find a shred of humanity in her nana, tells her that she enjoys ballet and Chris is a painter. Because there’s nothing that humorless religious zealots like more than the arts, right?

Grandma’s response is to demand whether or not Chris painted Cathy naked like one of his French girls. Cathy is like, fuck Nana, for the last time I’m not hooking up with my brother! But Grandma does bring her some real flowers for her sham of a garden attic, so maybe she’s warming up to her grandchildren? (Spoiler Alert: she isn’t)

Days and days go by and Corrine doesn’t visit her kids. She’s been busy winning over her father, going sailing, and generally cavorting about like a princess. Chris is totally fine with this, because at this point he’s either in crazy denial or just a Ken doll.

I would love to visit more, but can’t you spruce this place up? I feel like I’m in a prison or something

I would love to visit more, but can’t you spruce this place up? I feel like I’m in a prison or something

Also, turns out grandpa will never accept her demon children, so they have to stay up there until he dies. It could be tomorrow, it could be years from now. Hang tight, kids! Chris and Cathy go out onto the roof…hold up, there’s a fucking roof? Why are they not out there all time? Why aren’t they building a fucking porch so the little kids can go out? You’ve spent all this time making paper flowers and you can’t set up some sort of makeshift play area on your fucking roof? These children are the worst.

From this angle, Chris almost looks like a butch lesbian

From this angle, Chris almost looks like a butch lesbian

Also, Cory accidently gets locked in a trunk and gets really cold? Anyway, it’s Christmas, so Chris and Cathy cobble together some makeshift gifts for the little kids. At least they can still believe in Santa, right? WRONG. Corrine swans in with expensive gifts and tells the children that they are NOT from Santa, but from her. The fuck is wrong with you, Corrine?

Flowers-00393

The kids also make a poster/card for Grandma, who sees it, has something resembling an emotion, and runs away. Nailed it! But there’s good news! Corrine is being included back into the will, and Big Daddy is throwing a lavish party for her with music and food and fresh air and the kids can’t be invited because they aren’t supposed to exist. But don’t worry, Corrine will sneak Chris and Cathy down to watch from a liquor cabinet on the stairs! Merry Fucking Christmas!

It’s like we’re at the party instead of imprisoned above it!

It’s like we’re at the party instead of imprisoned above it!

Corrine is dressed up in a lavish gown that Grandma thinks is too slutty because of course.

Did you bring enough tits for the rest of the party, Corrine?

Did you bring enough tits for the rest of the party, Corrine?

Then they wheel out Corrine’s father, who gives her a fancy necklace. They kiss on the lips. There is A LOT of lip to lip family kissing in this movie. Like this:

Corrine and her dad are fucking, right?

Corrine and her dad are fucking, right?

Or this:

This is how you’re supposed to kiss your sister, with plenty of tongue

This is how you’re supposed to kiss your sister, with plenty of tongue

Also, the kids find out that Corrine is getting freaky with Bart Winslow, her family’s lawyer. And he has no idea she has kids hidden away in the attic. Cathy realizes they are totally fucked, but Chris is still in denial. When Cathy goes back upstairs, Chris sneaks into his mother’s room, and sees her gloriously tacky swan bed. That’s a thing, apparently.

Wanna come back to my room and bang away the memories of my half uncle husband?

Wanna come back to my room and bang away the memories of my half uncle husband?

Cathy is shaken awake by a furious Corrine, who is like, where the fuck is your brother?! Chris shows up and Corrine slaps him because she’s terrified they’ll expose themselves and blow this whole inheritance for her. If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Corrine is a fucking monster person.

I told you not to hang your mommy issues on those goddamn wire hangers!

I told you not to hang your mommy issues on those goddamn wire hangers!

And that’s for stealing my porn!

And that’s for stealing my porn!

The next day, Corrine offers a weak ass apology and threatens to tell Santa to take back their presents. You already told them Santa didn’t bring them, Corrine! You have no follow-through. She tells the kids that no amount of money is worth having them hate her…except for the amount of money her father has. That’s definitely worth it. Also, she brought them a TV, so all is forgiven!

Well, the kids are growing up, and Chris has taken to reading porn on the roof. Cathy is confused…why can’t he just masturbate in the bathroom like everyone else?

Oh yeah, this slut is showing her whole ankles off!

Oh yeah, this slut is showing her whole ankles off!

Corrine swings by for a quick puberty chat. She tells her that when kids grow up, their hearts change and so do their genitals. She then chucks a bag of maxi pads at her before sailing off in a catamaran.

So then you bleed for five days and it’s terrible but you’re a woman now yay, good talk!

So then you bleed for five days and it’s terrible but you’re a woman now yay, good talk!

Corrine gives Cathy a bra/girdle combo, which Cathy models in the bathroom mirror. Chris comes in and is all, ooh a bra! Before they can get down to some weirdness, Grandma pops in!

Well, I hope Mom brings me some Spanx when I turn 40 and I’m still stuck in this attic

Well, I hope Mom brings me some Spanx when I turn 40 and I’m still stuck in this attic

You know, considering that Grandma pops in at the same time every day, maybe make sure you two aren’t caught together in your underwear in the bathroom. Just a thought. Grandma freaks out and tries to cut Cathy’s hair, but Chris won’t let her. So instead she starves them for a week.

You’ll get an Alternative Lifestyle Haircut and you’ll like it!

You’ll get an Alternative Lifestyle Haircut and you’ll like it!

Finally, Grandma brings them food. She also dumps tar on Cathy’s hair in the middle of the night. What the fuck, Grandma? Chris tries to wash it out but he has to cut it.

I’m just saying, we’ve done the time, we might as well do the crime

I’m just saying, we’ve done the time, we might as well do the crime

Chris is surprisingly adept with scissors and gives Cathy a punky pixie cut, just in time for the 60’s!

I hate it, but I trust that Tyra has a vision for my model makeover

I hate it, but I trust that Tyra has a vision for my model makeover

Pages: 1 2 See entire article on one page

Profile photo of Chelsea

Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, where she works as a screenwriter/blogger/pop culture geek. She’s obsessed with dachshunds, the Whedonverse, 90's dance parties, and roller derby. She loves the word "Jewess" and wishes more people used it to describe her. Follow her ramblings on Twitter why don't you?

Chelsea has written 43 articles for us.

39 Comments

  1. Thumb up 2

    Please log in to vote

    I used to always watch an older (I can tell, definitely better) version of this movie when I was younger because apparently I’m a creep. You know how it goes. Anyway, in that version they sneak downstairs while their mom’s wedding is happening in the house and call her out in front of everyone. Their Ma is like, “whoooo are you guys?” and then somehow she ends up dangling from a rafter all dead in her wedding dress. I also don’t think there is incest, just subtle hints. Lifetime really spices it up. I have secretly always wanted to read the book but now that I admitted it in a public forum, I should just go ahead and do it.

  2. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I always knew that FITA was a ridiculous (both the book(s) and the original movie) but seeing this recap made me wonder why I actually finished the first book and then went on to read the other four…Louise Fletcher was seriously scary in the first movie though

  3. Thumb up 5

    Please log in to vote

    I didn’t know Flowers In The Attic was a thing and I’m really happy that no one forced me to read it when I was a kid. I don’t have cable so I didn’t accidentally stumble upon it. But I still want to throw my TV out the window for having the possibility of feeding this to my eyeballs.

  4. Thumb up 1

    Please log in to vote

    Fuuuuuuck. I’ve been hearing so much about FITA this week, never bothered to figure out what it was about, just assumed I’d watch it at some point. Hell no. Glad I had no clue it was a book and I’m glad I didn’t actually watch it.

    This recap was the perfect mix of horrifying and hilarious…and I do have to commend you for that because with a story this fucking terrible that seems like it would have been a difficult feat!

    And the makeovers were my favorite part of ANTM. I learned that you always trust Tyra. Always.

  5. Thumb up 3

    Please log in to vote

    The best parts of the damn thing were previews of Lizzie Borden Took An Ax. I don’t know why I watched this movie, because I hated the novel with a fiery passion. It was a MUCH CLOSER ADAPTATION of the novel than the 1987 film, for sure. Maybe not as explicit as the novel? One of my aunts gave it to me for Christmas when I was 11 or 12???? She said it was her favorite book???? Read it once and never touched it again. WHAT. THE. FUCK.

  6. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    My grandma told me one time that FITA was the worst book she had ever read.
    The most horrible, the most traumatic and the most disgusting.

    Of course, I decided to read it to see what she was on about. I was equally horrified and captivated that someone could write something… with so so so many sequels (some ghost written). I read the next one as well but simply couldn’t handle my mind being twisted anymore. I can’t believe there was a first movie, let alone a second.

    Wow. I feel like reading this recap was my equal to seeing the movie. Thank goodness.

  7. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    This was amazing. I hope it’s going to be a regular feature!

    I’ve never read the book, but I’ve definitely seen it and the sequels in the house of one of my relatives, but I can’t remember which, and am now feeling very suspicious of the literary taste of everyone I am related to.

  8. Thumb up 0

    Please log in to vote

    I cannot believe that I watched the entire movie, someone should shoot me, your comments were hilarious, could not stop laughing, as I was thinking all the same things, but I did watch the entire movie, so something must be wrong with me.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.