The Bad Seed

Released 1956


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Movie Summary

Mervyn LeRoy
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The Bad Seed is a 1956 American horror film that was nominated for four Academy Awards. Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) is by all appearances a normal girl. She likes to play the piano, sing songs, and tap dance. Her father heads off for military service leaving her alone with her mother, Christine (Nancy Kelly). One day, Christine gets news that a child from Rhoda's school has died. She is relieved to discover that her daughter is okay, but she is worried that Rhoda will be traumatized by the death of the little boy from her class. Rhoda seems unfazed by it. However, Rhoda seems to have a sinister secret. She was seen with the boy on the docks just before he died, and Christine finds a medal that the boy had won in Rhoda's room. Christine keeps a dark secret from her own past; though she was adopted when she was young and her birth father was a serial killer. Now she has concerns about Rhoda's innocence.moreless


Metacritic Score

  • 75

    San Francisco Chronicle Mick LaSalle

    The film is filled with unintentional laughs and with other moments that are simply jaw-droppingly absurd, either for the histrionic acting, the dated style of writing, the pseudo-...

  • 63

    Slant Magazine Eric Henderson

    The Bad Seed might not have the lurid veneer of Oedipal conflict that turned The Good Son into a supreme guilty pleasure, but it's got more false-façade performances than you coul...

  • 40

    Time Out

    1956 was way too soon for an unfettered treatment of the central premise: an 8-year-old serial killer. On the other hand it was too late in Mervyn LeRoy's career for him still to c...

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More Info About This Movie


Drama, Horror, Suspense


Classics, Psychological