In my review of narcissistic behavior in the Flowers Attic movie I will show movie clips to illustrate traits and behaviors of the narcissists, grandmother Olivia Foxworth and her daughter Corrine Dollanganger, and their victims, Chris, Cathy, Cory, and Carrie Dollanganger. I also cover the movie’s soundtrack, the story line, some of the main narcissistic traits and behaviors in this movie, how to recognize them, and some quotes.
For other movies about narcissists and linked reviews, go to: movies-about-narcissists
After her husband suddenly dies, Corrine and her four children are forced to go and live with the mother’s wealthy parents in a large, old mansion. The grandmother, Olivia, is a malignant narcissist, a coldhearted, religious fanatic.
The selfish Corrine is pursuing her dying father’s inheritance who disowned her when she married her father’s younger brother. Corrine conspires with her mother to hide her children because Corrine’s father may not know about the children’s existence. The children are then forced to stay out of sight and hidden away in a room in grandma’s attic.
Olivia informs her grandchildren about the truth of their incestuous parents. Corrine shows her children how she has been severely whipped by her mother as punishment for marrying their uncle and having children. Corrine tells her children that they need to remain confined until her father passes away. She promises them that once she has the inheritance, they can all leave and be free.
Corrine cares little about her children and their health and visits them less and less. Olivia is the only one who checks on her grandchildren, but she is very cruel to them in many unspeakable ways. She hates them because of their incestuous conception. She also suspects that the oldest two siblings, Chris and Cathy, are developing an incestuous relationship as well.
Olivia’s abuse of the children includes brutally cutting off Cathy’s hair and starving the children for a week. Little Cory almost dies from starvation, but is saved by his brother Chris, feeding him his blood. The children, especially the young twins Cory and Carrie, are frequently ill.
The children discover that their mother is having a luxurious life while dating someone by the name of Bart Winslow. When she visits them again, the children confront her with the appalling contrast between their and their mother’s lives. Their mother reacts insulted, defensive, and in total denial.
Cory gets very sick and is taken to the hospital, but it is too late and he dies. Chris discovers that Cory died from eating a poisoned cookie, which he believes was given to him by their grandmother. Now the three remaining children are determined to escape, no matter what.
While trying to steal money for the escape, Chris discovers that his mother is going to marry Bart the next morning at the mansion. The children plan to use the wedding distraction as a way to get out of the house.
While on their way to the wedding, the children discover that their grandfather has already died. They also discover their grandfather’s will from which they conclude that it was not their grandmother, but their own mother Corrine who tried to poison them so that she could be certain of getting the inheritance.
During the wedding the children expose their mother to everyone present. When Cathy proves her mother’s crime by trying to force her to eat one of her mother’s own poisoned cookies, her mother flees but in the struggle with Cathy falls of a balcony and is strangled to death when her veil is caught on a trellis.
The scornful grandmother watches the children leaving the mansion. All three children manage to move on. Chris becomes a doctor and Cathy becomes a dancer again. Carrie remains sickly throughout her life.
- Grandmother Olivia Foxworth, played by Louise Fletcher
- Mother Corrine Dollanganger, played by Victoria Tennant
- Son Chris Dollanganger, played by Jeb Stuart Adams
- Daughter Cathy Dollanganger, played by Kristy Swanson
- Son Cory Dollanganger, played by Ben Ryan Ganger
- Daughter Carrie Dollanganger, played by Lindsay Parker
Narcissistic Traits and Behaviors of Olivia Foxworth and Corrine Dollanganger
This is a most disturbing story of not one, but two malignant narcissists, a mother and a grandmother, each with their own combination of narcissistic traits, as well as strongly overlapping ones. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The most striking theme throughout the entire movie is illness, suffering, struggle for survival, and death, directly or indirectly caused by Corrine and/or Olivia.
The movie begins with the sudden death of the beloved father of the four children. Next we see the suffering, sickness, and death of little Cory, one of the four siblings.
Then there is the suspicious death of grandpa, likely at the hands of either or both Olivia and Corrine. Finally Corrine herself is killed when she is confronted with her own selfishness, greed and resulting murderous intent against all of her own children.
Another major theme of the film are the juxtapositions of extreme harshness, loathing, hardheartedness, and abandonment on one hand, and inappropriate bonding and uncomfortably close and incestuous relationships on the other hand.
All Narcissistic Traits Categorized in 12 Groups around a Clock
I discovered that each narcissistic trait and behavior can be categorized under one of twelve main groups, which I call The Twelve Faces of the Beast ™ of Malignant Narcissism.
In my video course Mastery Over Madness, I explain the narcissistic traits of each of these twelve groups and how they relate to what I call The Six Axes of Evil ™.
The twelve groups and the six axes of evil, including the four classic defense mechanisms, are all charted on a clock. For more information on how to recognize all narcissistic traits and behaviors and how to access my video course, go to: Course Mastery Over Madness
How to Recognize Olivia’s and Corrine’s Narcissistic Traits and Behaviors on the Clock
Olivia’s narcissistic behaviors of harshness, cruelty, hardheartedness, and extreme loathing of the children are all aspects of the hateful traits of the 1 o’clock group. The same is true of coldheartedness, one of the traits which Corrine and her mother have in common.
As mentioned above, on the opposite side, in the 7 o’clock group, we are confronted with the incestuous past of Corrine and her uncle, as well as implied or perceived inappropriate closeness between the oldest two siblings Chris and Cathy. Together with those of the 1 o’clock group, these are all traits of the 1-7 axis of evil.
Corrine and Olivia causing untold suffering and illness, not only in their children and grandchildren, but also starving them and their spouses, both literally and figuratively (starving from love), are all narcissistic behaviors of the 2 o’clock group.
Carrine being penniless after the death her husband, followed by her and her children’s struggle to survive, and her obsession with obtaining her father’s inheritance, are behaviors of the 8 o’clock group. Together with those of the 2 o’clock group these are traits of the 2-8 axis of evil.
“What’s wrong with you mother? Are you going to just stand there and think about yourself and your money while Cory lies there and dies? Don’t you care what happens to him? Have you forgotten that you’re his mother?” –Cathy
“You think you can go on doing whatever you want with us and nobody will ever find out?” –Cathy
“Stop it! You have no right to talk to me like that! Do you think I’ve had pleasure while my children have been in pain? You are heartless. When you’re ready to treat me with love, I’ll be back.” –Corrine
“No child in this house will shout or scream or show defiance! Do you hear me? Do you? Now, remove your blouse, daughter. And show them how punishment is given in this house. ” –Olivia
“Look closely, children. 17 lashes. One for each year she lived in sin with your father. So that you understand me now, I will give you food and shelter, but never kindness or love. For it is impossible to feel anything but disgust for what is not wholesome.” –Olivia
“Yes, death! Death! She should have told us. Somebody should have told us that fathers die too. They die, Christopher. Even if they’re young, and they’re handsome, and we need them.” –Cathy