Gorehound Mikes creepy doors are back open and
look what we dragged out of hell with us? None
other then famed horror Historian David Del Valle!!
David came be seen recently on Shout Factory's
Vincent Price Collection among other things! We are
so pleased to have such a ghoulish queen of the
underworld to join us and give us EXCLUSIVE
reviews and insight you`ll only see here at Gorehound Mikes.
DID SOMEBODY TAKE MY DRINK AWAY: THE BAD SEED
BY DAVID DELVALLE
A few years a ago I was asked to appear in a documentary about evil children in films. It was for the Warner Bros blu ray presentation of ORPHAN,a film which really wasn't about a child at all as it turned out by the final reel. I did the job without ever having had the chance to see the film until after the dvd was on the market. The very first title I discussed was THE BAD SEED and why not it is without a doubt the greatest of all the evil children films and that includes THE INNOCENTS as well as VILLAGE OF THE DAMMED or the now classic euro trash horror WHO WOULD KILL A CHILD? These films all contained evil children but none of these films had the shock value of what Patty McCormick gave in her show stopping transgression turn as a smiling soulless she devilin pigtails.
I remember seeing THE BAD SEED on television when I was but a child myself not quite so evil as Rhoda but I was already well on my way to becoming a monster kid of a different kind than the youthful serial killer Patty McCormick was playing on screen.The one character that always stood out to me even as a kid was Eileen Heckart as the very drunk Hortense Daigle...she was perfection..asking "did somebody take my drink away" well nobody could get a drink past her in THE BAD SEED and that is a fact..she received as Oscar nomination for her performance as did Nancy Kelly as the Rhoda's beyond hysterical mother and of course little Rhoda herself was nominated for the Academy award for what became a landmark performance.
I finally met Patty at a screening of MARYJANE a counter culture film from the sixties about pot of all things she was very grown up in this film yet you knew this was a very talented lady whatever age she was playing. Her memory of the film is good as it gets for a child trying to remember events so long ago. Her recollections of playing Rhoda on the stage at the tender age of eight were based on cab rides while she changed her wardrobe from one play to another or visiting cast members in their homes as if they were family. She was never aware she was as evil as her audiences observed since she was still a little girl play acting with grown ups all of whom became a kind of family for her at the time. Patty decided to play Rhoda as a child who was like a snake with no emotional center, a child who is always right no matter what the cost in humanlife or the pain she causes everyone around her.
One of the things Patty was still a bit freaked out about the film was the subtext of Henry Jones's character being a pedophile something quite unheard of in 1956. Yet it could be read into the film if you look at his performance and the fact he does not ever try to turn her in to the police even when he knows she is a killer. Patty was able to laugh about it now but she told me any sexual subtext would have gone over her head at the time in any case as I am sure it did most the the audiences of the day.
William Hopper who played her father back in 1956 would a year later play opposite two other monsters the Ymir of 20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH created by none other than the great RAY Harryhausen and THE DEADLY MANTIS who famously climbs the Washington monument during the film as fighter planes try to bring this giant insect down. Henry Jones a great and well respected character actor plays the dim witted Leroy who manages to hold his own acting wise with the demonic moppet. Jones also was retained from the Broadway play and his off camera screams as he is being burned alive in the basement are the stuff Horror movies are made of even in 1956.
When I see this film today it is still a guilty pleasure even though it is basically a photographed stage play with some exterior's in place of all the action taking place on a living room set it was on Broadway. Mervyn Le Roy was a very seasoned director who knew what he wanted and he had been so impressed with the Broadway production that he was very reluctant to change too much in adapting it to the screen. Rhoda is so evil that after both the play and the film there is a moment afterwards for Nancy Kelly Has to come back and actually spank Rhoda as a gesture for what the entire audience had wanted to do from the first act and that was to let her have it. This always reminded me of FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA where Edward Van Sloan comes out in front of a curtain to warn the audiences of 1931 not to fear since of course we all know there are no such things as vampires or monster made from dead bodies or are there?
MORE ABOUT DAVID: David Del Valle is an author and film historian whose work has appeared in books magazines and dvd supplements. David has also curated several photo exhibits using THE DEL VALLE ARCHIVES a collection of several thousand images from cult fantasy and Horror films that has an international reputation. His awarding winning DVD VINCENT PRICE THE SINISTER IMAGE is now considered a classic of it's kind. In January a TV series based on The SINISTER IMAGE will be streaming on RAPID HEART TV featuring cult and horror films introduced by David.