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Why Patty McCormack scares us in ''The Bad Seed''

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Patty McCormack, The Bad Seed | CHILD'S PLAY Rhoda efficiently dispatches anyone who keeps her from getting her own way. Nervous Mom (Nancy Kelly) senses that something in her own lifeĀ…
The Bad Seed: Everett Collection

Why Patty McCormack scares us in ”The Bad Seed”

CLASSIFICATION Cute but Lethal

CHARACTER Rhoda Penmark, a blond, pigtailed, well-behaved little girl who’s also a sociopathic killer

CHILD’S PLAY Rhoda efficiently dispatches anyone who keeps her from getting her own way. Nervous Mom (Nancy Kelly) senses that something in her own life is horribly wrong.

CHILLING MOMENT Having drowned a boy (offscreen) because he beat her in a penmanship contest, she says, ”Why should I feel sorry? It was Claude Daigle got drowned, not me.”

WHY SHE SCARES US The movie seems campy now, but in the comfy, conformist ’50s, the notion of a remorselessly homicidal child was a shocker. McCormack, who had played the role in the hit Broadway play, brought Rhoda to the screen with unsettling glee, earning herself an Oscar nomination.

WOULD PLAY WELL WITH… Macaulay Culkin in 1993’s The Good Son; Samara (Daveigh Chase) in The Ring (2002)

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