The Bad Seed - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Bad Seed Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 28, 2014
Originally a play, written by Maxwell Anderson, director Mervyn LeRoy stays virtually faithful in his adaptation. He even cast original actors Patty McCormack, as the careworn little girl named Rhoda, and Nancy Kelly as her inundated mother. The dialogue feels staged, as do the ellipses scenes, because it tries to look and feel like a play. This tone is substantiated by the ending, which is quick to show the link to the original play, and shush naysayers by attempting to show that its dark subject matter was based in fiction and not the real world, probably the only way the censors would let this film exist. Even today stories about little children as murderers just aren't broached unless there's a catch: they're possessed by demons, they're actually a middle aged woman, or they were brought back from the dead. Here the story is very straight forward: little girl kills, and then covers it up by killing some more. Instead of showing the gruesome nature of her crimes, the film builds up the backstory, and shows how she's capable of killing. Though it's a bit outdated in its concept, and wasn't as horrific as a modern interpretation might be, it's a creepy look at the inner workings of a so-called "bad seed" and based on that structure alone, this is a pretty interesting classic. LeRoy may not have been able to push the envelope as far as he wanted, but there's a dark subtlety to McCormack's performance that remains unmatched, even by today's standards.
Super Reviewer
½ March 29, 2011
"Now there's a little ray of sunshine, that one."

An occasionally riveting movie from the 50's about a sunny, charming, sociopathic little girl and her mother's desperate attempts to protect her and hide her nature. The Bad Seed sometimes makes the mistake of focusing too much on the dull adults, but overall, it's a solid movie. Good acting all around, and unlike similar modern movies like Orphan, The Bad Seed gets better as it goes along instead of imploding into an absurd mess. It feels a lot like a play, which is natural due to its evolution from novel to stage-play to film.

I thought The Bad Seed was a sinister (and relatively timeless) gem of the 50's, and I'm sure it was quite controversial in its time. The ending was changed because of the Hays Code, in fact, and feels a bit like a cop-out as a result, but not to the extent of ruining what came before. Check it out if you're interested.
Super Reviewer
½ May 19, 2011
The Bad Seed is second to only The Omen when it comes to evil child horror films. Patty McCormack is amazing as the evil but deceptively sweet little girl Rhoda. But my favorite performance of the movie came from Henry Jones as the janitor who sees through Rhoda's sweet demeanor. A great movie that deserves more exposure than it has. Don't stop watching when the movie is over. There is a very humorous scene during the cast of characters.
Super Reviewer
½ September 5, 2010
I love this movie it's a dark comedy and a horror movie based on a play. It's very interesting.
Super Reviewer
½ February 12, 2010
Fantastic little film.
Super Reviewer
½ January 20, 2009
Considering Mervyn LeRoy was handed a small budget, a mediocre cast and an uninspired screenplay, this isn't a bad film. Not much here that's 'scary' but Patty McCormack's rendition of the psychopathic little girl rates about a 7 on the creep-o-meter.
Super Reviewer
April 7, 2009
A True Masterpiece. The Very Best Evil Child Movie ever mad, far better them Oman or anything else that has evil kids in it. Hard to believe that somewhere deep behind the scenes that Alfred Hitchcock didn't have a hand in making this movie. The little girl Rhoda who is played by Patty McCormick was only 8 years old when she made this movie, In look at this film then show Hollywood that this young lady could handle anything put in front of her. The father was played by William Hopper who was also Perry Mason's P.I. Others who played in this were Henry Jones who played Leroy, and he often played this part, I remember seeing him in a lot of Black & White Movies. Rhoda is a spoiled little child who gets what she wants and when a class mate wins the penmanship award and gets a medal for it, well Rhoda is going to get that Medal one way or another. Soon the class mate turns up dead, and Rhoda isn't bothered by it. This is just the start of many twist of events. If you pass this one up, you are passing one of the greatest B&W movies made for suspense. Oh yea 5 stars, that tell you anything. 35 years later Patty McCormick when on to make an unofficial sequel to Bad Seed called Mommy, I would recommend you seeing that one also. In Mommy the roles are reversed she is the Mommy and the girl that plays the evil daughter is just as bad.
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2007
Relased 1956? But I remember watching this on the Hallmark Channel and it didnt seem that old, and as far as I can remember she wasnt the girl in the movie but it had the same plot.

WIKI: Film versions
The play was adapted by John Lee Mahin for the screenplay of a 1956 movie directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Paul Wendkos directed the 1985 television adaptation of The Bad Seed. The 1985 television movie kept the novel's original ending.

--- Just saw the 1956 movie on youtube. Liked the TV version better. Still, if youre slightly without anything to do (at work or in College) look it up. I think its a fascinating study of human behavior, or something like that.
Super Reviewer
½ September 19, 2007
Stage bound and some of the acting is very florid but still a fascinating examination of evil.
Super Reviewer
March 11, 2007
Why do they remake classics like this? There's the horrific 1985 TV remake, and then another one in the pipes for 2007. Seriously, why bother? People are just going to laugh at you. Look at The Omen.

Anyway...Patty McCormick. 'Nuff said.
Ryan M
Super Reviewer
½ July 31, 2012
** out of ****

I wanted to like this film. As a fan of evil kid movies and the horror genre in general, I was told that this one was an essential viewing. After watching it, I can neither deny nor agree that it is, in any way, essential. It is historical for popularizing a trend in cinema that is still kind of trendy today (see "Orphan" and the mediocre "The Omen" remake) and regardless of what I think of it, the film will always resonate with a certain group of people. My problems with "The Bad Seed" don't stem from any negative preconceptions I might have towards these evil child movies; they are typically mean-spirited (but aren't most horror films?) and unsettling. And it's often difficult to sympathize with anyone because the kids drive their respective parents to their wits end. I have no problem with these things, and instead I quite enjoy them most days. But...even though it might have inspired a genre, the execution of this horror-thriller is not particularly impressive if you ask me. The fans - and there are many of them - will probably disagree.

Patty McCormack is truly creepy as Rhoda, a seemingly innocent young child - a piano prodigy, a loving daughter to her mother Christine (Nancy Kelly) and an affectionate admirer of her father (William Hope) - with a nasty tendency to commit terrible acts. It starts with the jealous drowning of a kid in her class at school who won a medal that Rhoda feels she had deserved to win. The parents of the kid (the always drunk Mrs. Daigle, played by Eileen Eckhart, and her husband) visit the house and insist that Rhoda had something to do with their little boy's death. Of course, Christine - at home with only Rhoda and the housekeepers since daddy is away on military duty - believes that her daughter is not truly responsible, but as her behavior becomes progressively peculiar, she starts to have her doubts. But who wouldn't, honestly?

I can see where the film was shocking and provocative for its time. Before this film, I don't believe there was another evil child movie, or at least not one quite like it. For a lot of people, it pushed buttons even though none of the child's evil deeds are shown on-screen. But viewing it now in 2012, it's clear to see it has aged; and not particularly well. Whenever I watch an older film, I am willing to put on a completely different mindset entirely; which would explain why I enjoy the Hitchcockian thrillers and even the early works of Dario Argento. Indeed, we have better effects and actors now; but I believe atmosphere never dies, and that a truly good film - no matter how effects laden it was for its time - can still entertain even today. That's just not the case with "The Bad Seed". It may be borderline blasphemous to some, but I'm not even going to give the film the credit of being well-made.

In spite of the particular premise, which is and always will be genuinely creepy, the execution of the film's plot is almost beyond disappointing. Director Mervyn LeRoy just doesn't seem like a very motivated filmmaker. Maybe I'm wrong, but I only counted a few frames where "The Bad Seed" was actually down-to-earth atmospheric; although those few frames do count. LeRoy knows how to direct his actors, four of which got Academy Awards nominations for their performances, but not his material. I never felt as if there was really an established mood that ran throughout the picture other than that here we have this nice, pretty young girl who is at first ready to give her daddy a basket of hugs for his baskets of kisses and within the next hour murdering her classmates in cold blood. LeRoy runs his ideas into the ground with only middling success. The only thing moderately "shocking" is the ending, which is just tasteless and cold enough to leave its mark.

What can I say? I think "The Bad Seed" is quite possibly one of the most overrated films of all time. I was hooked for the first forty minutes and then the thing just lost me from then on. It's a privileged piece of cinema and enjoys a following these days, and I wouldn't tell people not to see it per se, but I personally could not wait for it to end. It is a two hour film and somehow manages to feel a lot longer. I may revisit it one day, but not anytime soon. Tell me what you wish. I love films like this, normally. But "The Bad Seed" did nothing for me other than fill me with rage for not being able to access it as so many others have. I want to be in on the praise and the admiration; although I can only be in on the respect. This is not a bad movie, but I don't think it's a particularly good one either. I don't know what to call it. Not slow-burn, because I'm usually into that when it's done right. Not thrilling, because of how much it's aged. Let's just stick with boring, plodding, and fascinatingly detached from all resonance.
Super Reviewer
½ January 27, 2008
WOW! They just don't make movies like this anymore...
Super Reviewer
August 26, 2007
One of the earliest truly creepy films that I have seen out of Hollywood. The version I saw had a cute little outtake at the end. All lovers of creepiness ought to enjoy this one.
Super Reviewer
October 3, 2011
A great early Horror film that raises serious questions of the human condition and genetics. The film itself is one of tension and suspense and the ending, while changed from the play's original ending, is still very well done. As the ending says, I won't spoil it for anyone but this is a great film worth checking out if you like more psychological horror outings opposed to the brain dead gory and blood-filled horror films of recent years.
Super Reviewer
½ December 21, 2007
It has pacing issues but it's still damn creepy.
Super Reviewer
August 30, 2013
The Bad Seed offers excellent acting to a tale of paranoia and suspense.The plot is simple, a mother suspects her daughter may be a murderer, but there are quite a few twists to the plot which were quite clever. This is definitely a classic, even there were no gore or violence, it managed to terrify me.
Lord Naseby
Super Reviewer
½ June 26, 2010
Well, I just saw this one and I must say that I was kind of disappointed with it. My High School did the play version of this one when I was a Freshman. I might be presumptuous and biased, but I feel that we did a much better job. This one started out great. It was extremely entertaining and it was just what it should be. Rhoda was sweet with a hint of creepy killer. but then, they went a little far with it. what I mean is, they milked the emotional scenes way too much. There is one major thing to say about this movie, Rhoda. If you can't get a good Rhoda, you can't get a good movie. she is key. well, this Rhoda was excellent in some
points but she, like every other major cast member, milked it too much in the big scenes. One final thing to say: the ending. it was the stupidest thing ever. that's not how things should be. I would say more but I don't want to spoil anything for people who haven't seen it.

TRIVIA TIME: Rhoda's murderous grandmother, Bessie Denker, was invented; all the other female career killers referred to in the novel and the film were genuine.
Super Reviewer
½ May 2, 2008
"The Bad Seed" is mainly a drama of a mother who suspects that her daughter could be a killer. The cast's performances are truly wonderful except for the mother of the little girl (Nancy Kelly) who looked over-acting sometimes. The evil girl was really creepy, she remained me the girl of the movie "The Orphan", so sweet... so need....
My issue with the movie was that it is interminably long, but definitely worth a viewing.
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!
June 14, 2012
cool movie good acting, but the plot was abit weird and strange in parts.. it could of been alot scarier, weirder and eerier.... it wasn't as scary or imaginative as it could of been. Not bad for a movie made in 1956 but not that good either.
worth watching because its somewhat interesting and not as bad as alot of films that have been released
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