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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Bad Seed [Blu-ray]


(Mervyn LeRoy, 1956)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner Bros. Pictures

Video: Warner



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:09:10.784

Disc Size: 17,718,059,435 bytes

Feature Size: 16,753,047,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 14.96 Mbps

Chapters: 36

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 11th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1034 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1034 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



• Commentary by Patty McCormack and Charles Busch

Enfant Terrible: A Conversation With Patty McCormack (15:10 - 480i)





Description: A single mother discovers that within her seemingly angelic daughter beats the heart of a cold-blooded serial murderer. One woman must make a terrible decision about the daughter she loves and desperately wants to protect in this classic thriller.



The Film:

Can evil be inherited? That's the question posed by Maxwell Anderson in his stage play The Bad Seed. This 1956 film... adaptation stars many actors from the Broadway version, including Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Henry Jones and Eileen Heckart. Young McCormack plays Rhoda, a too-good-to-be-true grade schooler who occasionally exhibits a vicious streak whenever things don't turn out her way. During a picnic, one of Rhoda's schoolmates is drowned; the victim is a boy who'd won a penmanship medal that Rhoda had coveted. Nancy Kelly, the girl's mother, slowly comes to the horrible conclusion that Rhoda was responsible for the boy's death--a suspicion fueled by the discovery that Kelly, who was adopted as an infant, is the daughter of a convicted murderess. Meanwhile, a moronic handyman (Henry Jones) accidentally tumbles to Rhoda's secret, whereupon he is accidentally burned to death. Realizing that Rhoda must be stopped before she can kill again, and reasoning that the authorities would never believe the truth, Kelly tries to put the girl to sleep permanently with barbituates, then shoots herself. The play's ironic ending--the mother dies, while the unsuspected Rhoda lives on--is sacrificed for a divine retribution finale in the film, with Rhoda being punished by a convenient bolt of lightning. This alteration is acceptable, but director Mervin LeRoy further gilds the lily with an asinine closing-credits sequence wherein Nancy Kelly throws Patty McCormack over her knee and administers a spanking! The 1985 TV movie remake of The Bad Seed retains the play's original ending, but all in all is not half as entertaining as the 1956 version (its hokey denouement notwithstanding). McCormack later starred in Max Allan Collins' unofficial 1995 sequel Mommy.

~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide.

Every mother believes her child is an angel, no matter how badly behaved they are.
Such is the simple reality behind The Bad Seed, a classic pseudo-camp horror classic that, with its companion film Village of the Damned, pretty much convinced the world that little blonde kids are evil.

In this film, young Patty McCormack plays the cupid-faced Rhoda, who loves her parents but rages with jealousy inside. When a classmate ends up drowned and a neighbor slips down a flight of stairs to her death, tongues start a-wagging and even mom Christine (Nancy Kelly) begins to wonder if Rhoda doesn't have some bad blood in her. When talk of a local murderess -- who'd just about be old enough to be Christine's mother -- rolls around, Christine puts it all together: Rhoda is guilty of some pretty heavy stuff, and there's quite a temper under that angelic face.

Excerpt from Christopher Null at eFilmCritic located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Bad Seed has received a modest transfer to Blu-ray from Warner. This is only single-layered and contrast remain SD muddy with detail infrequently reaching the heights we have previously seen from the format. Surprisingly there is a bit of depth. Warner have transferred The Bad Seed to 1.78:1. The print is fairly clean but I wouldn't say the visuals ever truly impress but in the positive - do remain consistent. This Blu-ray gave me an adequate, if unremarkable, presentation. But, any inferiority that I noticed in the image quality didn't deter my viewing of the film.














Audio :

Warner have stayed authentic with a DTS-HD Master 1.0 channel mono track at 1034 kbps. There is no hiss or distortion. Although lossless there is not much to extol but we feel confident that it is a true representation of the original. Composer Alex North provides a good original score that is exported well by the lossless track although there is no real depth to speak of. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Supplements include an informal commentary by Patty McCormack and Charles Busch - as heard on the 2004 DVD - as is the 15-minute piece Enfant Terrible: A Conversation With Patty McCormack in 480i as the attractive, classy lady frankly discusses her career and memories of The Bad Seed.



This is one of those oddities that uses its 'edge' appeal very well. Maxwell Anderson’s stage play - from William March's novel - now through John Lee Mahin screenplay is a success in many areas as a film helmed by Mervyn LeRoy. Performances don't seem as cohesive - often working at odds with each other but the Blu-ray gave me an entertaining presentation of an odd-duck film experience. It's priced reasonably for those wishing to indulge in their home theater. 

Gary Tooze

October 4th, 2011



About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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