Directed by Mervyn LeRoy [Other horror films: N/A]
When I was younger, I saw this film quite a bit. My mother in particular really enjoys this one, so I’ve seen it a fair deal of times. And while I do enjoy many things about it, I’ve never been able to go as far as to say I love it.
A lot of this has to do with some central characters. Nancy Kelly did really well much of the time, but she was really wearing thin on me toward the end. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m not a mother, but she didn’t handle her daughter with nearly as much force as she should have. Related, Patty McCormack was an annoying little brat most of the time, and I get that it’s the point, but God, I couldn’t stand any time she went into her ‘you’re the best mother, nicest mother,’ spiel. God, she was annoying, and the fact no other adults were really able to see through it was just disturbing.
Henry Jones was probably one of my favorite characters. I just loved his interactions with McCormack, and he really had the upper-hand a few times. Eileen Heckart played a great drunk, and Evelyn Varden was decently lovable in her own way.
Another thing that sort of rubbed me the wrong way was the stage call at the end. It’s sort of fun in an old movie way, but then it ends at a ‘funny’ scene which takes the somewhat somber finale and instead finishes up on a light-hearted note. From my understanding, that was a carry-over from the stage production, which had a different ending than the film, so made more sense, but here, it just felt really out of place.
Really, The Bad Seed has a solid story and pretty good suspense, but you can definitely tell it came from a play, because many of the conversations have a very stagey feel to them. You know the type – long conversations that take place in one room, few changes in scenery. It’s adapted well here, but it’s not always the most engaging material.
When all’s said and done, The Bad Seed is a good movie with a few untenable characters. Should one be a fan of 50’s horror, it certainly merits a watch, but it’s never been one that I’d go back to that often, even though I do ultimately find the movie above average.