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rayban

Horror Cinema's Scariest Children!

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It's been awhile since I've watched it-- was it ever explained why Rhoda behaves as she does? Or was the main idea that her evil was biological?

It was all a hereditary trait- evil. Rhoda's grandmother was a serial killer (the character was based on real life serial killer, Belle Gunness). Rhoda's mother was rescued from Rhoda's killer grandmother and adopted. As traits often do, the evil skipped a generation (it skipped Rhoda's mother) and Rhoda got the trait, inherited from her maternal grandmother. Rhoda's mother discovers that the quality of being evil, of being a killer is a hereditary trait.

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Jarrod -

 

Yes, "The Bad Seed" is definitely a filmed play.

It would be an interesting movie to re-make. Although I normally do not care for re-made movies, they could deviate a little more from the play and really do some creepy stuff with it.

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It was all a hereditary trait- evil. Rhoda's grandmother was a serial killer (the character was based on real life serial killer, Belle Gunness). Rhoda's mother was rescued from Rhoda's killer grandmother and adopted. As traits often do, the evil skipped a generation (it skipped Rhoda's mother) and Rhoda got the trait, inherited from her maternal grandmother. Rhoda's mother discovers that the quality of being evil, of being a killer is a hereditary trait.

 

Do you think audiences of the 50s believed in this stuff? Do audiences today think evil is inherited? My personal philosophy is that it is usually based on environmental circumstances.

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Do you think audiences of the 50s believed in this stuff? Do audiences today think evil is inherited? My personal philosophy is that it is usually based on environmental circumstances.

 

It might be a combination of environment but also a lack of empathy

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Do you think audiences of the 50s believed in this stuff? Do audiences today think evil is inherited? My personal philosophy is that it is usually based on environmental circumstances.

 

I would say that it is 98% environmental, 2% biological (having to do with chemical imbalances in the brain) but even that 2% if detected, medicated, and raised in a nurturing environment, can overcome any biological issues.

 

As for people believing in the concept of a "bad seed", they did then, and many do now. 

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Do you think audiences of the 50s believed in this stuff? Do audiences today think evil is inherited? My personal philosophy is that it is usually based on environmental circumstances.

hmm, that's a very thought-provoking question. I agree with you about circumstance, I believe that the way you are raised, the things you are exposed to (especially as a child) greatly determine personality, temperament, ideas and values. Examples you see in the people close to you can shape personality. I do think there is something to be said for personality traits not influenced by circumstance; I think some people have qualities that would remain the same no matter how they are raised or by whom.

I suppose the audience's reaction and opinions would depend on whether they took the movie seriously or not. If they really believed what Rhoda's mother said, they would probably believe the theory. It is an interesting theory, and it was a unique plot idea.

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With Damien Thorn, my absolute favorite of evil children, are we to assume that he is the Antichrist, because his mother was a jackal and his father was the Devil?

 

Robert Thorn never told his wife that their child had died at birth (the child was actually murdered).

 

In other words, born in evil, little Damien could only be evil.

 

There can be no mitigating circumstances.

 

This has to be the most bizarre birth in the history of horror films.

 

Damien Thorn with his "mother" and "father" -

 

Das_Omen-3._Auf_dem_Weg_zur_Kirche.jpg

 

 

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It might be a combination of environment but also a lack of empathy

 

Interesting. In Rhoda's case-- empathy about what?

 

I would say that it is 98% environmental, 2% biological (having to do with chemical imbalances in the brain) but even that 2% if detected, medicated, and raised in a nurturing environment, can overcome any biological issues.

 

As for people believing in the concept of a "bad seed", they did then, and many do now. 

 

I wonder if there are other movies, not remakes, that present the 'bad seed' theory. I can't think of any at the moment. Maybe EAST OF EDEN-- another mid-50s offering. Where the father believes Cal has inherited his mother's badness..?

 

hmm, that's a very thought-provoking question. I agree with you about circumstance, I believe that the way you are raised, the things you are exposed to (especially as a child) greatly determine personality, temperament, ideas and values. Examples you see in the people close to you can shape personality. I do think there is something to be said for personality traits not influenced by circumstance; I think some people have qualities that would remain the same no matter how they are raised or by whom.

I suppose the audience's reaction and opinions would depend on whether they took the movie seriously or not. If they really believed what Rhoda's mother said, they would probably believe the theory. It is an interesting theory, and it was a unique plot idea.

 

Sort of hard to believe this idea had not been covered before in the movies. At least in Hollywood. I wonder if European films tried.

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There is a hint of this kind of thing in the film version of "The Chalk Garden" in which Laurel's wild emotional state is attributed to her mother's supposed hyper-sexuality.

 

I think that Cal - and his mother - are a good example of "a bad seed".

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I think that Cal - and his mother - are a good example of "a bad seed".

 

Especially as it is defined by Cal's judgmental and very disapproving father.

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Sort of hard to believe this idea had not been covered before in the movies. At least in Hollywood. I wonder if European films tried.

This isn't exactly it, but an example I see in film is the plot where everyone in the film hates a character just because they are from a certain family. Like where a parent tells their child not to associate with another child because he's from a specific family and everyone in that family is considered bad. Or, one of the parents committed some wrong, and everyone assumes that their children are the same way. I've seen the theme in a lot of 50s movies in particular; it's not the exact "bad seed"  evilness theory, but it does show that idea of "if the parent was bad, then the kid is automatically bad too".

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This isn't exactly it, but an example I see in film is the plot where everyone in the film hates a character just because they are from a certain family. Like where a parent tells their child not to associate with another child because he's from a specific family and everyone in that family is considered bad. Or, one of the parents committed some wrong, and everyone assumes that their children are the same way. I've seen the theme in a lot of 50s movies in particular; it's not the exact "bad seed"  evilness theory, but it does show that idea of "if the parent was bad, then the kid is automatically bad too".

Yes, this is a theme that appears in a lot of American films.

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This isn't exactly it, but an example I see in film is the plot where everyone in the film hates a character just because they are from a certain family. Like where a parent tells their child not to associate with another child because he's from a specific family and everyone in that family is considered bad. Or, one of the parents committed some wrong, and everyone assumes that their children are the same way. I've seen the theme in a lot of 50s movies in particular; it's not the exact "bad seed"  evilness theory, but it does show that idea of "if the parent was bad, then the kid is automatically bad too".

 

This reminds me of the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives where if you live in Salem and have the last name 'DiMera' then you are evil. All of Stefano DiMera's children are supposedly bad seeds-- which if you think about it, is very one-dimensional storytelling. In some ways, soaps are not very evolved.

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Looking at past TCM schedules, I see there was an evening of programming dedicated to this theme. It occurred on Friday October 16, 2015. Here are the films that aired:

 

SCARY KIDS

8:00 p.m. The Nanny (1965)

9:45 p.m. The Bad Seed (1956)

12:00 a.m. Children of the Damned (1963)

1:45 a.m. Village of the Damned (1961)

3:15 a.m. The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

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Looking at past TCM schedules, I see there was an evening of programming dedicated to this theme. It occurred on Friday October 16, 2015. Here are the films that aired:

 

SCARY KIDS

8:00 p.m. The Nanny (1965)

9:45 p.m. The Bad Seed (1956)

12:00 a.m. Children of the Damned (1963)

1:45 a.m. Village of the Damned (1961)

3:15 a.m. The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

I completely forgot about The Nanny (1965), I liked that one.

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I completely forgot about The Nanny (1965), I liked that one.

 

Yes, I'd overlooked it too. The story is a bit confusing-- we're led to believe the boy is dangerous, and we're also led to believe the nanny is dangerous. It's like they couldn't decide which way to go with it. So I don't think the ending is very satisfying. But the performances are good.

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Yes, indeed, guys, little William Dix as Joey Fane in "The Nanny" was scary -

 

 

hammer-the-nanny-dix.jpg?w=640&h=355

 

 

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Yes, I'd overlooked it too. The story is a bit confusing-- we're led to believe the boy is dangerous, and we're also led to believe the nanny is dangerous. It's like they couldn't decide which way to go with it. So I don't think the ending is very satisfying. But the performances are good.

Yes, the kid is horrible to his mother when they are trying to make us think he is bad, but as soon as the truth is revealed, he is suddenly an angel and acts sweet and caring. It was such an abrupt change.

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Yes, the kid is horrible to his mother when they are trying to make us think he is bad, but as soon as the truth is revealed, he is suddenly an angel and acts sweet and caring. It was such an abrupt change.

 

I think they backed off when test audiences didn't warm to the idea of a homicidal child. So they had to make Bette's character take the fall to ensure the film's profitability. But my guess is the original story/script was written with the boy as the guilty one. And the way Bette plays it in the beginning of the movie, it seems like this is the case, and she knows he's dangerous. Where she's trying to reach him/stop him before it's too late. If she had been intended as the villain all along, she wouldn't have really cared one way or the other about him.

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I think they backed off when test audiences didn't warm to the idea of a homicidal child. So they had to make Bette's character take the fall to ensure the film's profitability. But my guess is the original story/script was written with the boy as the guilty one. And the way Bette plays it in the beginning of the movie, it seems like this is the case, and she knows he's dangerous. Where she's trying to reach him/stop him before it's too late. If she had been intended as the villain all along, she wouldn't have really cared one way or the other about him.

Bette starts out as a gentle older woman, feeding birds and smiling at children on a playground- and by the end, she's drowning kids and murdering anyone who interferes. I do think it made for a better ending by having the boy be innocent, but it could've been a smoother transition. 

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"The Nanny" is written by Evelyn Piper.

 

Miss Piper also wrote "Bunny Lake Is Missing", which bears little resemblance to the film version.

 

However, I do like the film version by Otto Preminger.

 

It is one of my favorite films. 

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Bette starts out as a gentle older woman, feeding birds and smiling at children on a playground- and by the end, she's drowning kids and murdering anyone who interferes. I do think it made for a better ending by having the boy be innocent, but it could've been a smoother transition. 

 

Yes, it was abrupt. I think it would have been just as strong a film if she had been manipulated by the boy and considered the guilty party, when she wasn't guilty at all.

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Yes, in "The Innocents", Deborah Kerr becomes obsessed with the ghosts.

 

And that obsession costs her both of the children (Flora and Miles).

 

In the novella, the ghosts are very, very "real" although Henry James does not exactly spell it out.

 

She was obviously a virgin, with little or no experience in life, who was probably much too interested in the children's uncle.

 

With this obsession, she could develop a "relationship" with him. 

 

THE KISS BETWEEN MILES & THE GOVERNESS - A SHOCKING MOMENT IN THE FILM -

 

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THE KISS BETWEEN MILES & THE GOVERNESS - A SHOCKING MOMENT IN THE FILM -

 

The film loses me with the kiss. I think it takes everything in another direction and the ghost story is radically redefined (but not in a way that totally makes sense). I was rather disappointed they'd resort to such a cheap stunt, especially since there is no evidence that this is what Henry James intended in the original source material. Made it seem like everything else in the movie was false, done to camouflage the fact they wanted to flirt with pedophilia. It's shocking and not in a very progressive way-- in a sick way.

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