Monday, March 11, 2013

Rue Morgue 200: The Bad Seed

I love "bad children" movies.  Or maybe I just really dislike good children.  In any case, The Bad Seed is the Citizen Kane of bad children films. 

Or should I say the Showgirls of bad children films.  It is a strange mix of camp and genuine terror.  Kind of like Mommie Dearest.

The Bad Seed is the story of little blond Rhoda Penmark, a true sociopath.  I work with some sociopaths so I know one when I see one. (If you happen to work with me and chance upon this blog: I am not talking about you.)  Rhoda is an entitled little twat who kills people when she doesn't get what she wants.  Her Mother, Christine (Nancy Kelly) begins to suspect that her darling little angel is up to no good, and her solution to the whole mess is to drug Rhoda with sleeping pills and then shoot herself in the head.  She should have done the whole thing in reverse because that little beyotch lives.  So does Christine, but with a hole in her face.

I skipped a lot but you really have to see this movie to believe it.  Based on a novel by William March, which was then turned into a successful Broadway play, The Bad Seed is, at times, stagey.  There is a whole lot of overacting here but you expect that in a bad child movie.  Patty McCormack is really wonderful a Rhoda, especially during the scenes where she turns on the charm to fool people.  You really sympathize with Christine: how would you react to learning your child was a killer?  Murder-suicide seems like a viable option.  The ending is strange: the play had a pretty dark, twisted ending: the film, not so much.  Warning before viewing: this film drags on forever!  I felt like it took me all day to watch it.  Don't let that scare you off however: it's good, it's creepy, it's camp.

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