I usually don't like kids in the movies all that much. Maybe I'm missing that maternal gene, or maybe I'm just not that into the little rugrats. But suffice to say that I sometimes have a pretty dark view of children, and that's why I love The Bad Seed -- and I especially love little Rhoda Penmark. The Bad Seed was based on William March's novel about a murderous little girl who terrorizes her family and friends, and by the time it's all said and done, she comes up with relatively respectable body count. The 1956 film was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starred Patty McCormack as the pigtailed terror, and in spite of a tacked-on ending to satisfy the Hays code at the time, the film is still considered on of the penultimate 'creepy kid' flicks.
But what set Rhoda apart is that usually when you have murderous kids, the moral caveat is usually that they are outside the 'normal run of things', leaving our heroes to dispatch the bad guy without any hand-wringing about harming children. So most films give you kids like Damian (the Antichrist himself) or those creepy little buggers from Village of The Damned who come from another planet -- but with Rhoda, there is no one to blame but her. Although in both the film and the original book, there is an argument that she is just the victim of her family tree, but that's not exactly the same as the supernatural kids in those other horror films. There is no excuse for why Rhoda is the way she is, and she reminds you that evil can come in all kinds of packages -- and that's why to this day, the sight of her skipping away with her braids swinging remains as one of my most beloved movie villain moments.
After the jump; some of Rhoda's creepier moments and a tribute to her lasting inspiration to the macabre everywhere...
As an added bonus: A song that I'm sure Rhoda would have loved, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' Red Right Hand