The Bad Seed 1956
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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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Of course I bought it immediately, didn't even bother to rent. I actually sat through this film, which isn't like me, because I get bored easy. But "The Bad Seed" was so enthralling that I couldn't look away.
The little girl, Rhoda, is so cunning and evil that it's almost fooling to her mother. She murders people when they have something she wants, and it's evident that she's done it many times. I was shocked that a movie that doesn't show any gore (being from the 50s) could be even more terrifying than films from the past few decades. Seeing Rhoda smile like it's a normal day after she murders sent a chill up my spine.
When she was begging her mother not to be mad and telling her how much she loves her, I went rigid. Everything in the plot fits together so nicely (and terrifyingly) and it all makes sense. There were many twists that I did not expect. The actors were outstanding in their performances, especially Rhoda's mother.
When you think about it, it's possible for children to kill and get away with because they're children. I work with children and have seen disturbing and shocking behavior in some, so watching this movie had me questioning everything.
I told my coworker about it when I went to work the next day and we both shared a chill. It really gets into your mind, and that's something I can appreciate in any movie.
"The Bad Seed" is hands down one of the best, well-thoughtout films I've ever seen!
DVD: The picture is very good for a standard DVD.
EXTRA'S: There are some excellent extra's included.
There is a 'Making of' documentary called, Enfant Terrible: A conversation with Patty McCormack.
There is a commentary track with Patty McCormach and Charles Busch.
The trailer and subtitles are also included.
Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) is a 8 year old girl with a very disturbing personality. She seems to be far more mature than her age would indicate. Rhoda's father, Kenneth Penmark, is a military man and at the beginning of the movie leaves for military duty. Rhoda lives with her mother, Christine. The two of them are quite friendly with their landlady, Evelyn who is also their neighbor. Rhoda goes to a private school and one day she comes home and expresses disappointment at having lost a penmanship contest to a schoolmate, Claude Daigle. She says that she deserved the medal. Shortly thereafter, Claude drowns in a lake and is last seen with Rhoda in a area forbidden to the children. Rhoda denies any wrongdoing. The caretaker of the property, LeRoy, is an odd character who is employed by the good graces of the landlady, Evelyn. Evelyn warns him to stay away from Rhoda or he will be fired. LeRoy seems to know there is something odd about Rhoda and teases her every time he sees her. Soon, LeRoy accuses Rhoda of killing Claude. It is not clear if he really believes that and teases Rhoda. She reveals to him some information that could prove her guilt. LeRoy is killed in a fire shortly thereafter. Rhoda's mom, Christine is horrified and is of the belief that Rhoda is responsible. Christine learns from her father her true history. Christine believes that a person with an evil personality trait can pass this trait on to future generations. She is of the belief that Rhoda may be an evil person. Her father and friends try to keep her calm and tell her she is mistaken. Christine has a talk with Rhoda and Rhoda reveals to her some terrible secrets. Christine makes a fateful decision.
***End of Spoilers***
PRODUCTION/THOUGHTS: 'The Bad Seed' is based on a play. Thus, it has very few locations. Most of the movie is filmed inside the house but there are some other scenes at a park and some scenes outside the home. Some of these scenes were added to give some scope to the movie.
This movie uses mostly the same actors that were used for the play. As a result the acting is excellent. The actors obviously knew there roles and most of their lines by heart and pretty much 'nailed it.' Especially impressive was Patty McCormack as Rhoda. I was impressed with how good her acting was.
****MAJOR SPOILER ALERT****
I didn't find the ending shocking but I did find it a bit surprising. Being that this was filmed during the time of the Code and no bad deeds could go unpunished in a movie, I was interested to see how this would play out. You didn't see many movies with children committing outright murder during these times. I kind of figured she'd be sent to either a sanitarium or home. Also at this time you also didn't see children being killed in movies very often. So, yes, Rhoda's end was a bit surprising, but Rhoda's demise was not unexpected. Once I saw her head to the dock during the storm I fully expected her to fall in the lake drown but the director and writer obviously had a different ending in mind.
****END OF SPOILER****
The ending was changed from the play.
'The Bad Seed' gets a lot of points in my book for tackling territory that was tough to tackle in conservative, 1950's America.
RECOMMENDATIONS: This is recommended for anybody who enjoys psychological horror and obviously anybody who likes 'creepy children' movies.
I'm giving it 4 stars. It was good but not great. I find movies to that are based on plays to drag in places and often have a lot more dialogue that is necessary. Alfred Hitchcock made a few movies based on plays and they are among my least favorite of his movies. For example, I did not like 'Rope' at all.
If you liked this movie, I strongly recommend seeing 'Never Take Sweets From A Stranger' made by England's famous Horror studio, Hammer Film Productions. I found this movie even more shocking to watch (for the time period) than 'The Bad Seed.' When I watched it, it caught me off guard and was one of the best 'Hammer' films I've ever seen.
I really don't recommend any parent allowing their child/children to watch this movie. Don't want to give the little darlings any ideas, ha-ha.
It always had a mysterious aura about it.
Interesting to see the "nature versus nurture" debate here.
Also difficult to think about... the parent's instinct to protect a child versus, doing what is really right (and in fact, actually better for the child).