This cute clan is disrupted by the death of father, whereupon Tennant takes them back to the family manse, from whence she was kicked out 17 years ago, after marrying her own uncle! She plans to regain the love of her dying father and inherit his fortune. (Apparently applying for a job and joining the workforce just never entered into the equation).The kids are locked in a spacious bedroom and treated with extreme cruelty by their grandmother Louise Fletcher, who must have studied Piper Laurie's every move in Brian DePalma's Carrie. (It's a shame she didn't notice the subtleties in that performance as well. Her acting is so over-the-top, if she had a black moustache, she would twirl it.) She calls them ''devil's spawn'' and goes so far as to trim Cathy's long blonde locks. (the horror!)
The children spend most of their time in the attic - which they get to through a secret door in their room. It is here that their eyes grow cavernous - apparently from too much makeup. But what really gets to the kids is the realization that mother Tennant has been sprinkling arsenic on their cookies. (This makes Tennant a hero in our opinion as these children are so annoying and stupid, poisoning falls into the category of mercy killing.) But enough of this, lest, as little Cory, who eats more cookies than is good for him, puts it, ''We'll have to thwow up.''
Incestuous desires run rampant in the original novel, but the movie,written and directed for minimum impact by Jeffrey Bloom, only offers soft-focus innuendo. Stripped of its metaphorical trimmings, the sublimely ridiculous plot reduces the viewer to laughter more than tears.
On second thought, the scariest thing about this movie is that the original novel was followed by more horticultural horror sequels, ''Petals on the Wind,'' ''If There Be Thorns'' ''Seeds of Yesterday'' and ''Garden of Shadows.'' to name but a few. Could there still be bitter fruit to come? Now
that’s the REAL horror!