The chickens have come home to roost. Lifetime scored huge ratings last January with its gothic freakfest Flowers in the Attic, based on the 1979 V.C. Andrews best seller. Now comes Petals on the Wind. Inspired by Andrews's follow-up novel, the movie leaps ahead 10 years to find brother-and-sister lovers Chris and Cathy Dollanganger (this time played by Wyatt Nash and Rose McIver) trying hard — and failing — to bury their lust for each other.
Cathy also wants payback for what happened in Flowers: She, Chris and their two younger siblings were held captive in the attic of a mansion for years by their vile, Bible-spouting grandma, Olivia (Ellen Burstyn), and their psychotic mother, Corrine (Heather Graham). The latter killed one of the little ones with poisoned doughnuts before the three surviving kids were able to escape and start new lives.
"Now it's time for revenge, and Cathy has quite a plan in place," says the Oscar-winning Burstyn, who admits she's mystified by the enduring popularity of the controversial Dollanganger books. "It must be the incest, don't you think? It's such a verboten topic — one of the last taboos, really — yet somehow these stories are meaningful to an entire generation. It's fascinating.
Playing the wicked Olivia — now bedridden and dying — was a grueling experience, and not just because of the daily four-hour makeup job. "She's such an outrageously twisted and unlikable woman!" Burstyn says with a laugh. "She's a self-righteous narcissist who thinks she's godly. Is there anything worse?"
Petals in the Wind airs Monday, May 26 at 9/8c on Lifetime.