Edward Karam
August 13, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Bad Seed

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
performer
Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Eileen Heckart
director
Mervyn LeRoy
author
John Lee Mahin
genre
Horror, Drama

We gave it a B

This adaptation of Maxwell Anderson’s play — about an 8-year-old who knows how to get her way (she kills anyone who stands in it) — is a hoot, and Patty McCormack as the kid, in Aryan blond pigtails, displays cold-blooded aplomb. The material takes a stab at serious psychology — does environment or heredity produce evil? — but the real fun lies in the goofy mix of chills and wildly emotional hokum, particularly from Nancy Kelly, weeping and pounding at her ovaries as the agonized mom who unwittingly passed along the criminal gene and Eileen Heckart as a boozy hairdresser whose son drowned mysteriously.

EXTRAS The adult McCormack appears on a trifling featurette; much better is the commentary track she shares with actor-playwright Charles Busch, who ranks the film among the all-time camp classics and (astutely) says, ”You play it like a gangster.”

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