The Bad Seed - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Bad Seed Reviews

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Antonius Block
Super Reviewer
½ November 29, 2016
A seemingly prim and proper 8-year-old girl is suspiciously near a classmate who earned a medal instead of her when he drowns, thus setting off questions about her involvement in his death. The concept of an evil child is inherently eerie, and the film likens the possibility of one who can commit murder to Mozart showing his talent for music at a very young age. There are a couple of chilling moments as the mother's suspicions grow and the past unfolds, her own as well as the child's, but the film drags in places, lacks tension, and is too long at 129 minutes. It also suffers from a ridiculous ending which was not present in the novel or play, and entirely due to the Hays Code. Nancy Kelly is reasonably good in the role of the mother, but it's surprising to me that she and a couple of co-stars were nominated for Academy Awards, including Patty McCormack, the child, who was mediocre. I suspect the acclaim was due to the content being more shocking in 1956, but today, the film is just barely passable. As a side note, though, it's interesting that the band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds got its name from the novel.
½ November 3, 2016
It failed to impress me. A reasonable effort from Patty McCormack, but I didn't find the movie to be thrilling or scary. It got dull and was just too long. (First and only viewing - 10/20/2016)
October 31, 2016
So this was when people took Freud seriously.
Why are you pleading with her?! Beat her ass! I hate the mother more than the child, & her endlessly cracking voice. It gets into major melodrama territory. Drones on too long. But there is real drama that draws you in. Many noteworthy themes. The idea of the film itself sticks with you.
Jess S.
Super Reviewer
October 12, 2016
If you are thinking about having kids you should watch this movie first. This is a tale of an evil little girl set on getting her way. She will not let anyone stand in her way, the best part of this movie is her piano playing. This movie is pure birth control.
October 22, 2015
Is it possible that, in the 1950s, audiences were so naive that they could go to a movie with the title "The Bad Seed" and a poster that showed a little girl with a devilish smile, and actually be surprised that the little girl ends up being a cold-hearted killer. This is a movie that drags at a snails pace, particularly because you can easily tell what is going on from the first scene. They telegraph their plot twists so much that I sat in agony waiting for something to come to fruition. They play the whole thing as this great mystery, like we are clueless about what happened and they are shocking us with these big revelations. Then they spend hours talking about why things are happening, and debating psychology just so we can fully understand every little minute detail. Then there's the acting, or should I say over-acting. Every emotional moment is just huge and overly dramatic. I wanted to plug my ears at certain times to block out the screeching and wailing. Do not waste your time with this movie, it's almost unwatchable.
Super Reviewer
½ September 25, 2015
It has pacing issues but it's still damn creepy.
September 24, 2015
i love this movie! wish i could find the 80's remake, which i also love. i watch the bad seed at least 4 times a year!
September 24, 2015
This looks and feels like a B movie, but there is something compelling about the story of this seemingly born evil little girl and her family. The acting is sound and the minor characters well drawn and convincing. I think its a but or an under recognised classic
August 30, 2015
I love old black and white movies and now that I'm older I can see the edginess in them. This film was no exception. It took on dark subject matter and had a wonderful ending.
July 20, 2015
7.7/10. 6-29-2015. Original rating 11-6-2012 (9/10).
June 8, 2015
Yeah, it's high melodrama (especially the role of Christine Penmark), but it's still so much fun to watch! ... Would be even more fun if Rhoda got away with murder as in the stage play.
April 19, 2015
rated golden! the bad seed is one of my go to movies when i am bored. i like the 80's remake also, but appreciate and respect the classic theatrical performances in the original. someone correct me if i am wrong, but i think it was the first movie to have a child as the murderer.
February 12, 2015
One of the scariest and most disturbing films ever made. Rhoda is underrated when it comes to great film villains. I hesitate to give this masterpiece a full 5 stars because it is too stagy in some parts, a few too many scenes play out like they were meant for Broadway and not the big screen. But when it comes to evil children (non-supernatural), nobody does it with more authority, skill, and Joie de vivre than Patty McCormack as Rhoda Penmark.
November 14, 2014
* over the top acting
* pretentious dialogue
* at 129 minutes is 30 minutes too long. not adapted well from the stage to film.
* acting by Patty MacCormick was good as evil girl
* violent ending
November 11, 2014
The Bad Seed is an unnerving and frightening horror/thriller, akin to the likes of Psycho and The Night Of The Hunter, as well as less-appreciated efforts like Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte and Dead Ringer. Very rarely do horror films make me feel unnerved, but this one sure did because damn, it was a creepy and unsettling film.

Rhoda Penmark is a prim and proper girl and one who seems like a dream to any parent with her insistence on dressing nicely, playing the piano beautifully, her seemingly friendly demeanor towards those closest to her, and her dogged determination to be good at everything and be the best.

After her father leaves for military service, Rhoda is taken by her mother to a class picnic, though Rhoda is quite agitated that she didn't get the medal for penmanship from the teacher, but rather another student named Claude Daigle.

Before her mother, Christine, leaves the picnic, she has a discussion with Rhoda's teacher about how she's doing in school, which the teacher seems to express concern over Rhoda's behavior towards other students and how she is essentially an outcast from the other students due to her rather abrasive attitude towards them.

Though somewhat upset and confused by this revelation, Christine goes home to have a nice lunch with some friends. During this visit, Christine overhears on the radio that a student at the picnic drowned in the nearby lake, which worries Christine when the child is not immediately identified. Her fears are alleviated when the follow-up report discloses that it was another student...Claude Daigle.

When Rhoda gets home, her mother thinks that like any person, she would be traumatized and want to talk about it. Instead, Rhoda displays no sadness or empathy of any sort towards her dead classmate, and wants to go roller skating.

This lack of emotion becomes of great concern to Christine, though she tries to shake it off. Still, she can't understand or really reason why her daughter would feel nothing about this tragic death.

Her suspicion becomes heightened when Rhoda's teacher and Claude's mother come by her home asking if Rhoda has any idea where Claude's medal is, since a witness stated that he saw her with Claude out by the lake shortly before his death. These accusations anger Christine and she doesn't want to believe that her daughter could have possibly done this.

However, as more things are revealed about Rhoda and more people start dying in mysterious accidents, things start to take a frightening turn for Christine, especially as she begins to learn about her own mysterious past and the theory about a "bad seed" child in regards to Christine's past.

The story is very fascinating, especially how it makes a case for the "bad seed" theory and how some people can be simply born evil and can kill without conscience or second thought. The character Rhoda is one of the most intimidating, manipulative, and scary characters ever put in a horror film, much like Norman Bates in Psycho or Preacher Harry Powell in The Night Of The Hunter. She is truly scary, and the film also features a host of interesting characters, some of whom are also shady and have troubled pasts. On top of being a damn good horror and thriller story, the film also works expertly as a drama as things become unraveled in this twisted household. There is a lot of depth to this story, especially as the plot twists and shocking secrets are revealed.

The acting, as expected, is quite good. However, for a child actor, Patty McCormick does a great job as Rhoda. Rarely ever do child actors do a good job, but this film is among the rare exceptions, and not only that, but she actually steals the show with her scary performance, especially with her qualities to manipulate, deceive, and intimidate. The other actors, like Nancy Kelly as Christine, also does a great job with her performance as a mother trying to come to terms with what her daughter has done and what she is capable of, because she feels believable for this scenario.

Is it scary? Yes, yes it is. The plot unfolds quite carefully as a slow-burn horror flick, but it was done so well that the 129-minute running time felt like nothing because of all the things contained within the story, the sheer number of shocking moments, and riveting acting. It's a scary, complex, dramatic, and thoroughly entertaining film that goes above and beyond what is expected in its particular genre and then some.

If you love a good horror film that's a slow-burner, The Bad Seed is something you need to get for your film library. It's scary, intense, superbly acted, well written, and engaging from start to finish. It's packs one hell of a mean punch and once it cuts loose, it never lets up until the end.
½ August 24, 2014
Really superb story. The truth is slowly revealed with shocking consequences. McCormack is amazing but Kelly is far too dramatic.
½ August 5, 2014
it started out great, a little slow but it kept my interest...when the cat came out of the bag they threw it in the deep end and let it drown. near the end i screamed out THESE ARE THE DUMBEST PEOPLE EVER! I never read the original screenplay but man i hated these characters specially the mother who in the end just turns into a screeching, crying idiot. i'm kinda glad i watched this classic but when my annoyed bucket started to flow over by the stupidity of the characters the ending just made me explode with rage. it was a giant middle finger and didn't give me any satisfaction. i do NOT recommend this movie.
½ June 17, 2014
Genuinely chilling. A realistic "parent's worse nightmare" scenario that's disturbing to the bone to contemplate. The ending, unfortunately, just sort of rolls in out of nowhere.
June 11, 2014
It's black and white, just like the main character. With her, there's no gray area. She's psychopath with pig tails. Her sweet charm is her weapon of choice, and the price her victims pay is nothing short of death. Beware of The Bad Seed. P.S. She put's Macaulay Culkin in the Good Son to shame.
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