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The Bad Seed (1985)

Unrated | | Drama, Horror, Mystery | TV Movie 7 February 1985
Fatal freak accidents force a widow to realize her precocious 9-year-old daughter was born to kill.


Paul Wendkos


Maxwell Anderson (based upon the play by), William March (based on the novel by) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »


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The Bad Seed (2018–2019)
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The Bad Seed tells the story of two brothers from a dysfunctional family who have raised themselves up from the desperate days of their early childhood, only to have their newly ordered ... See full summary »

Stars: Matt Minto, Jodie Hillock, Zoe Jansson-Bush


Cast overview:
Blair Brown ... Christine Penmark
Lynn Redgrave ... Monica Breedlove
David Carradine ... Leroy Jessup
Carrie Wells Carrie Wells ... Rachel Penmark
Richard Kiley ... Richard Bravo
David Ogden Stiers ... Emory Breedlove
Chad Allen ... Mark Daigler
Weldon Bleiler Weldon Bleiler ... Fred Daigler
Christa Denton Christa Denton ... Rhoda Penmark
Sarah Fairfax
Anne Haney ... Alice Fern
Carol Locatell ... Rita Daigler
Eve Smith Eve Smith ... Mrs. Post
Katharine Tobin Katharine Tobin ... Student


Rachel is a 9-year-old girl who is perfection itself - unless she's crossed or challenged. Several disturbing recent incidents have led Rachel's mother Christine to suspect that her child is a latent murderess. Upon discovering that she herself is the daughter of a convicted killer, Christine becomes convinced that sweet little Rachel is a "bad seed" - an inherent killer who feels no remorse because she doesn't know any better. Written by Ørnås

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"Thou shalt not covet...bear false witness...steal...dishonor thy parent...murder..." ...Or suffer a witch to live! See more »








Release Date:

7 February 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bad Seed See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


An early draft of the teleplay has Christine reading Rachel a "different bedtime story", in order to test her for a reaction, prior to giving the girl Monica's sleeping pills. This new story chronicles how King Ahab of Israel had Naboth of Jezreel stoned to death for the latter's vineyard, after Naboth refused to sell (he was appalled by Ahab's plan to turn it into a vegetable garden). When asked what she thinks of Naboth's being murdered by Ahab - who already owned many vineyards, most of which were far greater than the one Naboth prized - Rachel callously replies that Naboth should have just sold the vineyard...and that it's a wonder Ahab didn't just kill him for it, being king and all. This steels Christine for the sad task which lies ahead of her. See more »

Crazy Credits

[caption written for closing angle on Rachel, never used; left on cutting room-floor] THE BEGINNING See more »


Remade as The Bad Seed (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

The Bad Actress
24 December 2002 | by Poseidon-3See all my reviews

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.

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