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The Bad Seed (1956)

4.7 out of 5 stars 807 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Bad Seed, The (DVD)

A single mother, adopted herself as a small child, discovers the horrifying truth that within her seemingly angelic young daughter beats the heart of a cold-blooded serial murderer ... even as she learns that her own mother killed everyone else in her family. Now as more people die, one woman must make a terrible decision about the daughter she loves and desperately wants to protect in this classic thriller.

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Special Features

Audio Commentary: Commentary by Patty McCormack and Charles Busch Documentary: Making-of documentary Enfant Terrible: A Conversation with Patty McCormackAudio Commentary: Commentary by Patty McCormack and Charles Busch Documentary: Making-of documentary Enfant Terrible: A Conversation with Patty McCormackAudio Commentary: Commentary by Patty McCormack and Charles Busch Documentary: Making-of documentary Enfant Terrible: A Conversation with Patty McCormack

Product Details

  • Actors: Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones, Eileen Heckart, Evelyn Varden
  • Directors: Mervyn LeRoy
  • Writers: John Lee Mahin
  • Producers: Mervyn LeRoy
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 13, 2005
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (807 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00027JYNK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,347 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Bad Seed (1956)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
I personally feel that this is one of the greatest horror movie made. Forget all of that blood and guts and popping out of the bushes to scare people. That fear only lasts for a second...This movie plays with your mind and lasts forever. Nothing is scarier than polite Miss Rhoda Penmark.
This movie contains brilliant direction and an amazing cast. Many people feel that the acting is overdone and that they act like they are still in the stage version, entertaining an audience in a theater but that is the way it was meant to be made. Making it look like a regular movie would ruin the essence of the evil, 8-year old killer. Nancy Kelly is truly amazing as Christine. Her "breakdown" scenes are heart wrenching and done very well. She is most-natural and does a wonderful job in playing a woman going through the delemma of whether or not she should hate or love her daughter. Her performance is beautiful, "She killed him! But she's my little girl...and I love her!". The highlight of her acting is when Rhoda just kills one of her victims (I won't say who) and Rhoda is playing the song she always plays on the piano faster and faster and faster. It is such and amazing scene. She deserved the Tony she won during the play and the Oscar nomination. Now, there is Patty McCormack who is definatly chilling in this role. Her perfect smile is just as scary as her evil ways. When she describes the way she killed the little boy I always shudder ,"But he told me that he was going to tell on me...SO I HIT HIM WITH MY SHOES AGAIN!! I hit him harder that time.
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By A Customer on January 30, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
This movie is simply a masterpiece. There are no better words to describe it. The chilling morbidity of Rhoda Penmark, and the emotional ringer Christine goes through...it is wonderful! I am a fourteen year old girl who doesn't like the Varsity Blues and Scream movies of my generation, I love the Bad Seed. Most of my friends, however, have never heard of it and don't want to see it. I try to explain to them what a wonderful movie it is, but most of them just don't care. All my generation has grown up seeing slasher films. None of them can truly appreciate The Shining, Psycho, or the elusive simplicity of the Bad Seed. I have seen it many times and know it word for word. It's not a stupid slasher film, or even just a simple murder mystery. It is a solid psycological thriller. I adore it. I love LeRoy and his wonderful ability to be droll, I love Monica and her "I know everything" frame of mind, I love everything about the movie! My dream is to be in the play. Who knows? It could happen... :c)
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Cool-as-a-cucumber Rhoda Penmark is not at all what she appears to be. Hiding underneath that sweet, perfect exterior exists an unspeakable evil. Patty McCormack is superb as Rhoda, the pig-tailed murderess. The whole cast, in fact, is first-rate here. Some chilling moments await the viewer of this film, including a classic ending! A very good music score accompanies the action, as well.

This film was originally a stage play, and this "stagy" feel somewhat comes through in the movie version as well. But the film's convincing and effectively-told story cannot be denied. I would have loved, however, to have been able to see the stage play version, which starred the same group of actors we see in the motion picture.

Patty McCormack was 10 years old when "The Bad Seed" was made in 1956. Patty was so good here, she received an Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She lost the Oscar to Dorothy Malone, however.

Two other "Bad Seed" actresses were also nominated for Oscars -- Nancy Kelly and Eileen Heckart. Heckart was heart-breakingly good in this movie, playing the mother of one of Rhoda's victims.

In my opinion, Henry Jones (as handyman "LeRoy") could very easily have been yet *another* Oscar nominee that year. Jones was wonderfully "offbeat" in "The Bad Seed", delivering lines with a relish that simply *must* be replayed multiple times when watching this DVD. They are just too good and humorous to only view once. Such as his witty warning to little Rhoda: "They've got a little blue [electric] chair for little boys; and a little pink chair for little gals!"

This DVD retains the originally-shown "actors taking a bow" ending, which (in a way) dilutes the fabulous conclusion of the story.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Does heredity and environment play equal parts in a child's development? Or is one factor stronger than the other? That's the loaded question the film The Bad Seed (1956) brings forth, seemingly siding on the side of heredity. Personally, I would tend to lean towards environment, but until we can definitely discern the nature of the wiring of our brains, mapping the neural networks and determining the thought processing pathways, we may never know...does bad beget bad? It's possible, but if so, what choices do we have in terms of ending genetically transposed evil from traversing one generation to another? Enforced sterilization? I wouldn't touch that subject with a ten foot Lech Walesa...

The Bad Seed, directed by Mervyn LeRoy (No Time for Sergeants), is actually a film based on a play written by Maxwell Anderson, which was based on a novel written by William March...quite a circuitous path to the silver screen, but one worth waiting for, in my opinion.

As the story begins, we meet the Penmarks, Kenneth (Hopper), Christine (Kelly), and their eight year old daughter Rhoda (McCormack), replete with blue eyes, blonde hair and pigtails. The family appears very normal, except Rhoda, who seems just a little too sweet, a little too ingratiating...but whatever...soon after Kenneth, who's a colonel in the military, has to leave for an extended period of time on some army business, one of Rhoda's school mates dies mysterious drowning incident, after supposedly falling off the end of a pier (seems the boy won an award coveted by Rhoda).
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The Bad Seed (Movie)
I saw this movie for the first time when I was 12 years old and remembered the name of it! I love this movie a great horror classic, I could watch this movie and ones like it over and over..can anyone suggest some more classics like this one?
May 20, 2012 by Nikita Glover |  See all 4 posts
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