Friday, January 6, 2012

The Bad Seed - Children Serial Killers must make Cult Classics

The Bad Seed
is a 1956 psychological horror film directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Starring Nancy Kelly as Christine, she is left alone with her young daughter Rhoda (played by Patty McCormack) as her husband fights in the war. Rhoda seems sweet at first, but after one of her fellow classmates mysteriously drowns, the grounds keeper begins to question the girl's morality. As more people become suspicious of Rhoda, more evidence points to the little girl being a serial killer. As the mother learns secrets from her own past, the more it is unveiled Rhoda is a Bad Seed.

This movie aired a few monthes ago on TCM Underground. Although the horror is not graphic, it is definitely psychological - probably a reason the movie is a cult classic. At the time this movie came out, there were a couple of taboos this movie surpassed:
  • There is discussion of serial killers at the dinner table.
  • Christine learns she was adopted after being born of a serial killer.
  • Although the groundskeeper suspects sweet little Rhoda is the killer, he is not so innocent himself with elements of perversity and pedophilia.
  • When Christine determines her daughter is evil, she attempts to kill herself and her daughter through a drug overdose.
In a similar fashion to Damian in the Omen, there is question of whether Rhoda is the killer. But by the end of the film, Rhoda is truly a Bad Seed. Since this movie came out during the time of the Hays Code, the censors do not let anyone get away with evil - Not even a little girl! So when it looked like Rhoda was going to get away Scott Clean, she was struck by lightening and killed.

There is one last memorable event that puts this movie into a cult status. Done in a similar fashion to a theatrical curtain call, each actor is announced and applauded. But as Patty McCormack is introduced, Nancy Kelly puts the young little girl on her lap and starts spanking her. So remember kids, if you go around murdering people, beware of the consequences - you may get spanked.

Overall, this movie was pretty gripping. Like I said, it relied on off-screen action. However, Eli Roth has shown interest in remaking The Bad Seed. I'm sure it would be just as fun, but it would be told in a completely different manner: Every slice, dice, and blood splatter would be caught on camera.

So on Death List Five, The Bad Seed ranks #3.

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