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I never saw the original "The Bad Seed", but I recall my mother telling
me about it and how chilling Patty McCormack's performance was. It is
possible that just hearing about the original clouded my judgment, but
here's my opinion.
In this version, Carrie Wells was anything but chilling, she was just plain whiny, spoiled, and annoying. I never felt disturbed while watching her, I just felt irritated. She never came across as "evil", just bratty. I just kept wanting to slap the you know what out of her.
I didn't find any of the other actors to be all that impressive in their roles, either.
This is a remake that should have never been made. The original IS original! And the acting is superb. This horrible remake is very choppy and some of the scenes seem to be "fillers" and leave little room for the mystery of the story. The acting is robotic. The talents of Blair Brown, Lynn Redgrave, Richard Kiley, and Keith Carradine are wasted here. The "bad" girl is very stereotypical and not at all believable. Even the dialogue does not seem genuine--people do not talk like that. Unlike the original,nothing seems to be shocking as each new plot twist is revealed. It seems you can always tell what is coming next. Skip this stinker and stick to the original!
Why not leave a classic alone unless you can actually improve it? The little girl reminds me of a robot reciting her lines and lacks the believability of a "scary" murderous child. Additionally the changes in the script for updating purposes actually work AGAINST the story line not for it. For example, one of the charms of the original was the fact that any violence was left out of the view of the camera and to the viewers imagination. This version includes a visually graphic depiction of the little Miss Penmark's actions. Why bother to partially update the story instead of making a movie based on the original and using more "modern" and original ideas?
The reviews of this new version of "The Bad Seed" were so terrible that
I watched the DVD to see what went wrong.
I saw the original film when it was released in 1956 and found it lacking--not in its story but in its acting and direction. Based on a hit Broadway show, which was inspired by a book, its origins were plainly visible. There was no attempt to adapt the play to the screen and give it movement and cinematic fluidity, and the cast, an ensemble of well-known and award- winning actors borrowed from the stage show, was still playing to the second balcony. The performances were so loud and over-the-top that they often made me wince. Even worse, the chilling finale of the play was altered due to the censorship of the times.
This new version puts the play's ending back into the script, which is a vast improvement. A few changes have been made to the script but nothing that harms the basic story of an outwardly sweet but amoral little 8-year-old girl with no conscience--a "bad seed"--who murders to get what she wants. Contrary to other reviewers, I did not find this version to be that awful. Granted, it's not what it could have been and it does have a cheesy look to it, but the concept of the story still makes me shudder.
I thought this new version would be more graphic, given the times we live in, but thankfully I was spared the grisly details. Unless you're a devoted fan of the original movie, I think you'll find this remake worth your time. It still has the power to shock.
Keith Carradine as the gardener was superb. Lynn Redgrave as meddlesome
Monica Breedlove and Richard Kiley as Richard Bravo were good. So was Eve
Smith as Mrs. Post, the head of Rachel's school.
Unfortunately the performances of Blair Brown as Christine Penmark and Carol Lacatell as Rita Daigler seemed lacking in dimension when compared to the dynamic performances of Nancy Kelly and Eileen Heckart in the original.
Even worse, Carrie Well's delivery struck me as very flat when compared to Patty McCormack's in the original.
In a disturbing trend that continues to this day, a classic film was remade into a distorted and less-involving TV version. Memorable, sometimes legendary films (like "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?", "Notorious", "Indiscreet", "Night of the Hunter", "I Saw What You Did" to name just a few...) get updated for a new audience and inevitably lose something in the translation. Here is a potentially strong remake that goes awry mainly do to casting, but also due to script revisions that drain a lot of the emotion out of the story. For unknown reasons, the father has been eliminated from the story and a key role (which won Eileen Heckart and Oscar nod in the original) is shaved down and treated as a throwaway. The story concerns Brown (in a solid enough performance) whose preteen daughter (Wells) is increasingly suspected of wrongdoings at school and around her home. Wells is adored by her grandfather Kiley and neighbor Redgrave and loathed by the booze-soaked handyman Carradine. Soon, Brown starts to believe that she herself is indirectly responsible for some of the acts that have been perpetrated. The biggest problem with this movie is Wells. She is a weak actress and an expressionless prop through much of the story. Also, she lacks the primary thing that the character needs to begin with! She isn't in any way cute or adorable!!! The child should appear as an idealized, beautiful creature. Wells is not in this category. (Although the world can breathe a sigh of relief that Tori Spelling wasn't put in it!) Appearance aside, she just doesn't have the chops to pull the role off. Her presence hampers Brown, who actually could have done pretty well otherwise (despite some really unflattering pants.) Redgrave tries desperately to inject some energy into this rather dull affair, but unfortunately comes off as ridiculous much of the time. Decked out in a series of horrific '80's workout ensembles and headgears, she is a far cry from the original character who was more of a surrogate mother figure. Carradine is so-so. He is so obviously "acting" and occasionally looks as if he can't remember his lines as he tries to portray someone "slow". It's a lazy portrayal, one that SCREAMS for a Geoffrey Lewis-type. (Where was HE?) Kiley comes off well, but he has no chance of saving it and Haney (always enjoyably crusty) scores as the prim school administrator. This is worthwhile only as a demonstration of how great movies should be left alone or only to see a shrimpy, almost malformed, meek Allen get bullied by a girl.
In the 1956 version of The Bad Seed the Hayes Office got the ending changed so Rhoda died when struck by lightning while trying to retrieve the penmanship medal at the dock while her mom survived a suicide attempt. However the 1985 MFTV version ended the way the novel ended with the mom dying and Rhoda surviving, with her dad still wrongly believing her to be a perfect little angel. Still the original 1956 version had a wonderful cast and great acting. Also that curtain call scene after the ending where all the cast members came out to take bows and then the mom gave Rhoda a spanking was brilliant, a happy comedic addition to an otherwise shocking tragic movie. ♣
My first IMDb review is very fitting. I saw this when I was about 7 years old and they kept replaying it on TV. I was terrified back then!!! I have been looking for this movie for over a decade searching various google searchs etc. Finally I found the movie I saw! I watched parts again and obviously there is a lot of cheesy stuff but the concept of evil skips a generation / wicked little girl etc. is still pretty awesome. I am glad I found a movie I had seen as a kid and couldn't find for a long time. It is still an awesome concept if it were to be done again in today's times - but there is no doubt cheesiness involved with this movie. David Carridine is in it which surprised me this time around.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have seen the original Bad Seed Movie, the one made in the 50's which was based on a stage play which I believe was based on a book and while this made for television movie has the ending that was changed in the old movie because it was deemed inappropriate for the evil psychotic little girl to have gotten away with her murderous activities and this movie is decent and has a good cast that includes the underrated Blair Brown but the movie is no where near as good as the old version that starred Patricia McCormick as the girl and the girl in this movie though not a bad actress just can't compare to Patricia! Now, I want to point off that I saw this remake long before I saw the original movie so there is no bias here!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I hate remakes. The only remake I've ever decided was better than the
original was John Carpenter's Village of the Damned. With The Bad Seed,
I first read the play in the seventh grade and downloaded the film soon
afterwards, and was shocked by Patty McCormack's haunting performance
as Rhoda Penmark, an eight-year-old child who is a perfect angel but
has a secret urge to kill within her mind. It was filmed in 1956 and
was in black and white.
With this more modern version, Rhoda's name has been changed to Racheal and the acting was terrible. The soundtrack was boring, and Racheal was just a spoiled crybaby and wasn't very convincing at all.
I know it's not always fair to compare and contrast with movies and their remakes, but I think if the acting had been better this could have been very successful. Unfortunately it'll just never beat the original, which might not be a bad thing because I love the original all on its own.
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