Is 'If There Be Thorns' The Last Of The 'Flowers In The Attic' Series? Get Ready For More Of The Dollangangers
The twisted tale of Flowers in the Attic has haunted me since I was a young child and saw the gothic horror novels on my mom's bookshelf. Lifetime is premiering another movie about the incestuous blonde-haired Dollanganger family, so is If There Be Thorns the last book in the series? Turns out, there are actually five books in V.C. Andrews' Dollanganger series, which all started with the evil grandmother locking her grandchildren away in the attic. If There Be Thorns is the third in the series and it's followed by Seeds of Yesterday. Lifetime is giving us both of the movie versions of the third and fourth books, with If There Be Thorns premiering on Saturday, April 5, and Seeds of Yesterday premiering on Saturday, April 12. But even though there are five books, Variety wrote in Oct. 2014 that Lifetime said Seeds of Yesterday would be the last film about the family. So what gives?
If There Be Thorns follows the adult Cathy and Chris living in incestuous domestic bliss (don't worry, there is still some unsettling attic sex in the movie) with Cathy's sons — teenager Jory and 12-year-old Bart. As shown in the previous Lifetime film, Petals on the Wind, Jory's father was the abusive and manipulative ballet dancer Julian (who died in a car accident), but miraculously Jory is a well-adjusted and normal teenager. Bart's father was Bart Winslow — Corinne's husband that Cathy seduced in order to get revenge on her mother (he died in the fire at Foxworth Hall) — and Bart, with his dark hair, is a loner. Both sons are named after their fathers and are thankfully not biologically Chris' (because of the whole, you know, Cathy and Chris actually being brother and sister thing).
When a mysterious old lady moves in next door to Cathy and Chris (with her creepy butler John Amos), Bart is immediately drawn to her. But a black veil over her face can't hide her identity — it's Heather Graham! Errr — well, it's Corinne, Chris and Cathy's mom. Veiled Corinne targets Bart immediately and says she wants to be like a grandmother to him and spoil him. Oh, young Bart. How little you know. But Bart has a dark side (as Corinne told the now-deceased Bart Sr. in Petals on the Wind, he's the "devil's spawn"), and his friendship with John Amos and Corinne proves to be problematic — and dramatic.
Seeds of Yesterday does another time jump to tell the story of adult Bart. On its Lifetime page, the film's description is: "The saga of the tormented Dollangangers comes to an end in Seeds of Yesterday, in which the family continues to coexist miserably." Fans of the original books may be disappointed that Lifetime isn't going to see the entire series out by ending a book early. But the fifth book, Garden of Shadows (written eight years after Flowers in the Attic), is a prequel to the horrors that went down in the attic and has its own controversy.
Writer Andrews died in 1986 (Garden of Shadows was published in 1987). The author's family decided to hire a ghostwriter to keep Andrews's stories alive. This ghostwriter — later revealed to be author Andrew Neiderman — is the one who actually wrote Garden of Shadows. The V.C. Andrews website states that it does not know if Andrews herself started or outlined the book, or if it's totally a creation of Neiderman.
Because of its contentious origin, I'm OK with the fact that Lifetime isn't including Garden of Shadows in its Flowers in the Attic canon. Plus, with Garden of Shadows being a prequel, some recasting would be in order. The book tells the story of Chris and Cathy's grandmother Olivia, who was previously portrayed by none other than Ellen Burstyn in the Lifetime movies. Since Garden of Shadows takes places years before Flowers in the Attic, Lifetime would need to get a new actress to portray Olivia. And I'm sorry, but I don't want to watch anyone else but Burstyn take on that role.
So, Dollanganger fans, you'll need to be content with just two more movies from the series. And hey, if you really need more Flowers in the Attic, just revisit the books.