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6 Degrees Entertainment

'V.C. Andrews’ Casteel Family - 5 Movie Series'
(Annalise Basso, Julie Benz, Jason Priestley, Kelly Rutherford, and Daphne Zuniga, et al / 2-Disc DVD / TV-14 / 2020 / LGF)

Overview: The best-selling family drama books by V.C. Andrews come to life in their Lifetime® Original movies: Heaven, Dark Angel, Fallen Hearts, Gates of Paradise, and Web of Dreams, available for the first time in this complete 5-film collection.

DVD Verdict: In the first movie, 'Heaven, to escape poverty, Heaven is sent to live with her father's deranged ex-lover.

There, she is tormented but finds solace in her stepfather Cal, and begins a taboo relationship.

Although not exactly (or even close, to be honest) following the book, 'Heaven' is still a very believable tale of the darkness behind those sickening sweet Southern accents.

Indeed, be prepared for many pious characters who are actually just the opposite and yes, there's a boat load of hypocrisy and liberal use of the word "whore" spread around!

The number of domineering female characters is directly proportionate to the number of spineless males. It's a predictable, but reasonably entertaining, trashy little soap opera.

Next up is 'Dark Angel' where we find Heaven Casteel in her new life living within her estranged grandparent's mansion, Farthinggale Manor. But even in the world of the wealthy, there are secrets best forgotten.

This second edition in the series was, for my money, an improvement over the first one. Some characters, such as Jillian, were not handled properly for she was not an alcoholic in the book; just extremely vain and selfish!

Also the scene where Heaven meets Tom at the circus, Pa seemed too happy to see Heaven. Jason Priestly played Tony very well, just showed his evilness a little too quickly. All and all a much better adaptation and so I'm happy.

In the third tale, 'Fallen Hearts', we follow Heaven Casteel, now happily married and ready to settle back in her hometown. But after a trip to Farthinggale Manor, she is persuaded to stay.

Again, for my money, this third tale is most definitely my favorite of all the V.C. Andrews Casteel Family series. Jason Priestley did such an amazing job of both acting and directing this particular version.

A job well done, for sure, and given that there's still an audience for this sort of Southern-fried Gothic melodrama ie: Lifetime's first forays into Andrewsiana, 'Flowers in the Attic' (based on Andrews' 1979 debut novel) and the sequel 'Petals in the Wind,' I would say that we can expect many more to appear on our small screens in 2020!

Then we get 'Gates of Paradise' where Heaven Casteel''s daughter Annie finds herself orphaned and crippled. Whisked off to Farthinggale Manor, Annie pines for her lost family, especially for her half-brother Luke.

Here in this fourth outing the story isn't as good as the others. It's a bit of a horror/thriller diversion with a 'Misery' storyline to boot!

Heaven's orphaned daughter is the central character. After her parents die in an accident she is paralyzed and kept captive by Tony her Great Grandfather (so yes, still some icky sibling or not stuff going on there!)

Finally we are given 'Web of Dreams'. Leigh VanVoreen had to escape from Farthinggale Manor and the secrets she harbored. She fell into the arms of Luke Casteel, whose devotion promised her hope.

Only Luke knew her deepest secret. Bravely she bore the local folks' suspicions as she grasped for the happiness that had long eluded her, awaiting the birth of her child and hoping for a chance at happily-ever-after.

Sadly, along with the other numerous inconsistencies with the novels, they barely touched upon Jillian's maniacal obsession with her looks, which was a huge and important part of her character.

Furthermore, Leigh is supposed to have silvery blond hair. She is supposed to be stunningly beautiful in an angelic way. The girl that was cast did not reflect the character in the book at all and she didn't seem like she would catch the eye of a young Tony Tatterton.

She was just kind of an awkward teenager and time at school was never addressed and her boyfriend's was changed from Joshua to some guy named James!

All and all, I wish they made Jillian, Leigh, Heaven and Annie look alike except for their hair. This was an important plot point that was missed.

Other than all that,'V.C. Andrews’ Casteel Family - 5 Movie Series' is a quite stunning coming together of all five (5) titles in the Casteel Family series which has now been given to us on lovely DVD by LGF. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

Amazon 'V.C. Andrews’ Casteel Family - 5 Movie Series' DVD Purchase Link

The 'V.C. Andrews’ Casteel Family - 5 Movie Series' DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $24.98 when it arrives on DVD February 25th, 2020 from Lionsgate.