Thursday, 25 October 2007

The Bad Seed (1956)

One of my all-time favourite cult movies is The Bad Seed. One of the most delightful things about this 1956 flick is trying to figure out just how seriously it was meant to be taken. At first it’s hard to believe it was supposed to be taken seriously at all, but then you remember that it was the 1950s. It’s the story of the mayhem caused by a wicked girl, played magnificently by Patty McCormack. She’s like Satan’s answer to Shirley Temple. It seems to be the film’s intention to show that bad heredity can produce monsters even in the most wholesome all-American middle-class families, although personally I’m not surprised that such a cloyingly nice and respectable family would cause a child to become a murderous killer! And you have to consider the effect of 50s TV as well. One can only take so much of Leave It to Beaver and My Three Sons without wanting to pick up an axe. The producers decided that the ending of the stage play would be too real for a 1950s audience so they changed it. That usually means, in Hollywood, that a saccharine-drenched phoney happy ending gets grafted on, but in this case the new ending just makes a weird film weirder. It’s a very bad film, but as camp it succeeds brilliantly. In fact as a piece of unintentional camp it’s right up there with Valley of the Dolls. This is a film that is not to be missed.

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