The Bad Seed

1956

Drama / Horror / Thriller

188
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 63%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 83%
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 12,263

Synopsis


Downloaded times
August 26, 2020

Director

Cast

Kathy Garver as Rhoda's Classmate
Patty McCormack as Dr. March
Paul Fix as Judge Ewing
William Hopper as Col. Kenneth Penmark
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1.16 GB
1280*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
129 min
P/S N/A / N/A
2.15 GB
1920×1080
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
129 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by The_Void 9 / 10 / 10

Assured portrayals of real characters in an amazingly chilling film!

What we have here is a fantastic classic horror film, which benefits from great performances from all concerned and a plot not typical of serial killer films. The film doesn't adhere to convention and builds its story around an idea that was frightening for the time - and still is to this day. The murderer in this film is as evil as any other; the only difference being that here the killings are committed by a decidedly amoral child. The film presents a good portrait of its star, as it presents its ideas very much from a child's point of view. The young girl doesn't see what she's doing as wrong as she is always given a reason to pass on the blame for wrongdoings, and this always comes across in a plausible way. The plot surrounding the atrocities is even more interesting than the central idea, as we follow the torment inflicted on the girl's mother. The situation that Christine Penmark finds herself in is the stuff of nightmares; just what can you do if you find that your eight year old child has committed murder? The Bad Seed makes excellent use of this dilemma, and the fact that it's incredibly easy to buy into the plot ensures that The Bad Seed prevails as an potently chilling film. The film is based on a stage play by Maxwell Anderson, and this comes across often as the film takes place in just a few settings and the whole thing is very stagy. This is, however, to its benefit; as the locations make the whole piece more claustrophobic, and the fact that we don't see the murders themselves benefits the film immensely as it allows the audience to spend more time considering the implications; which are what the film is actually about. The main reason why this film works so well is down to a great performance by talented child actor Patricia McCormack. McCormack presents a portrayal that finds exactly the right pitch between the sweet and innocent youngster that she appears; and the dark persona that lies just beneath her exterior. Nancy Kelly similarly gives a defining performance as her tortured mother, and excellently puts across a torrent of emotion. The acting is typically melodramatic, but all the cast somehow manage to keep their acting down to earth. Every scene in the movie is perfectly pitched and nothing is wasted as we are continually taught more about the characters and their situations. The climax to the film is fabulously poetic, despite being implemented on the producer's orders and overall, I really don't see much wrong with this film. Highly recommended!

Reviewed by BrandtSponseller 7 / 10 / 10

Staginess is not a flaw here

Christine Penmark (Nancy Kelly) is the daughter of a famous writer, Richard Bravo (Paul Fix). She's married to Kenneth (William Hopper), a military Colonel who seems to spend most of his time away from home, usually on short-term call in some other city. The landlady of their apartment building, Monica Breedlove (Evelyn Varden), is obsessed with psychology, having even been analyzed by Freud. Because of this, she courts friendships with other intellectuals, including a criminology author, Reginald Tasker (Gage Clarke). But by far the most important character is Christine's young daughter, Rhoda (Patricia McCormick). Rhoda is oddly adult in her behavior. She goes out of her way to excel at everything she does, to be prim and proper, to seem amicable and innocent. However, in the wake of one of Rhoda's classmates falling victim to a drowning accident while on a school picnic, suspicion falls on Rhoda. As more facts come out, Christine realizes with horror that her child just might be a "bad seed". A tightly focused ensemble piece, heavy on dialogue and taking place primarily in one interior location, The Bad Seed is one of the better but more understated horror films from the 1950s. Because of its ideas, its unusual portrayal of a manipulatively "evil" child (and a weirdly cute young girl at that), and its nihilistic and abruptly mind-blowing ending, The Bad Seed was quite a shocking film in 1956. In my book, it still is. That's not to say that the film is graphic. Much more so than, say, The Haunting (1963), The Bad Seed is the classic example of how something implied and not shown can be just as effective and disturbing as something shown. Still, not everyone loves it, of course. "Staginess" is often cited with either a direct claim or an implication that that quality is necessarily a flaw. The Bad Seed's "staginess" is easily explicable. It is a film adaptation of a play by Maxwell Anderson, which was itself adapted from William March's last novel, published in 1954. It's easy to see how only minor changes would allow the film to be performed on a stage. However, I don't see The Bad Seed's staginess as a flaw. It's not as if plays are bad merely for the fact that they're plays, right? There seems to be some unspoken or unanalyzed attendant assumption that cinema shouldn't bear strong similarities to other artistic media and/or a belief that cinema should always be "naturalistic". I don't agree with either of those assumptions. Cinema can do many different things. It shouldn't all just be one way or another. Rather than being a flaw, the staginess of The Bad Seed is an asset. It catalyzed the effective "tell, don't show" attitude towards the film's violence. It allows all attention to be placed on the fantastic ensemble performances, and especially on McCormack, who turns in the best young female performance this side of Dakota Fanning. And it helps make the film feel like the parable that it is. Under director Mervyn LeRoy's hand, The Bad Seed is an extended meditation on two philosophical ideas--twisted psychologies and the nature versus nurture debate. It's not just Rhoda who has psychologically-rooted problems and dysfunctions, but everyone in the film. Christine is in denial, and shows that she has long been in denial, about her happiness, her life and her daughter. She continually tries to act as if everything is kosher and normal, but as the film progresses, she has periodic cracks in the armor, until the "breakdown" at the end--and even in the midst of that, she tries to act as if everything is okay and mundane. Monica, who keeps trying to psychoanalyze everyone (except the one person she most needs to psychoanalyze), tends to also intellectually browbeat or overpower them. Kenneth is an absentee husband. Leroy Jessup (Henry Jones), the apartment maintenance man, presents himself as just as twisted, deceptive and manipulative as Rhoda, and there is a pedophile subtext with the character. Claudia Fern (Joan Croydon), the head of Rhoda's school, seems on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and also seems to be in denial, as does Christine's father Richard, who also has elements of absenteeism and emotional distancing. Hortense Daigle (Eileen Heckart), the mother of the drowned boy, is an alcoholic, and her tragedy puts her over the edge. In fact, the only character in the entire film who seems well-adjusted is Reginald, and perhaps that's symbolic of his function as a criminologist. The nature versus nurture material is incorporated in an unusual way. Characters debate this to an extent, but most take the nurture side. However, the film itself makes more of an argument for the nature side, and Christine, despite being in denial, comes to believe the nature side, as does Reginald, the even-keeled character. In fact, William March (the author of the novel) believed more in the nature side, and said as much to colleagues while he was working on the book, including doing research into psychotic killers. What helps to amp up the disturbing qualities of the film is that Rhoda is manipulating the audience as well as she is manipulating other characters. Only very seldom does LeRoy have her "true nature" come through, and it's a shock to us in the same way that it's a shock to the other characters. The ending of the book was changed to be in line with the "moral code" for Hollywood films at the time, but the resultant, somewhat bizarre ending, is probably more shocking in retrospect than March's original ending would have been. There have been many horror films over the years with endings somewhat similar to March's. There haven't been many that end in quite the same way that The Bad Seed does. While the film would certainly require a bit of adjustment for many younger modern horror fans, it is well worth watching, especially if you've become acclimated to slower-paced, dramatic, understated horror.

Reviewed by pocca 7 / 10 / 10

The devil wore dotted swiss.

Minor 1950's classic that holds up well fifty year later. The film does have its flaws. Occasionally it has the feel of a staged play--at times it seems Mrs. Penmark has to answer the door every five minutes so as to get the other major characters on screen. The Freudian psychobabble and the altered ending add an unnecessary half hour or so to the running time. And the acting can be very overwrought (although the scene in which Mrs. Penmark is screaming in the apartment as Leroy screams outside--both counterpointed by Rhoda's untalented but very loud rendition of "Au Clair de la Lune"--is a moment of high camp horror on par with anything in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?") Still the movie works, largely because of Rhoda, the eerily self controlled little murderess who despite her sweet smiles always looks at though her hair is braided a bit too tight. It helps that an actress was cast who was cute enough, but not too pretty--Patty McCormack looks like a miniature gargoyle when she drops the sunny mask and starts roaring. Leroy, the leering simple minded caretaker is almost as unsettling--the scenes in which he sadistically taunts Rhoda almost amount to a very twisted flirtation, as he is clearly more delighted than appalled by her capacity for evil (at least until he learns just how far this capacity goes). I haven't seen the 1980's remake, but I can't see how it could top the original, if only because evil little girls in jeans and T-shirts just aren't as scary as evil little girls with hair bows and starched frocks.

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