The Bad Seed (1985 film)

The Bad Seed is a 1985 American made-for-television horror film directed by Paul Wendkos for ABC Television.[1][2][3][4][5] It is based on the 1954 novel by William March and is a remake of the 1956 movie directed by Mervyn LeRoy.

The Bad Seed
Written byGeorge Eckstein
Directed byPaul Wendkos
StarringBlair Brown
Michael Beck
Lynn Redgrave
David Carradine
Carrie Wells
Richard Kiley
Chad Allen
Music byPaul Chihara
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)George Eckstein (producer)
Maria Padilla (associate producer)
CinematographyTed Voigtlander
Editor(s)Steven Cohen (as Steve Cohen)
Running time94 min
Production company(s)Hajeno Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original release
  • February 7, 1985 (1985-02-07)


Freak fatal accidents force a widow to realize her precocious 9-year-old daughter was born to kill.


Rachel Penmark is a young girl who is upset at not winning a penmanship medal at school, having lost to her classmate Mark Daigler. During a school trip to the beach, Rachel tries to get Mark to give her the medal, he refuses and she chases him onto a fishing pier.

Teacher, Alice Fern, notices Mark is missing during a roll call. They organize into search teams to look for him. When he is found, unsuccessful attempts are made to revive him on the shore near the pier, and the death is ruled as an accidental drowning.

Rachel's mother, Christine Penmark, is discussing all of the deaths Rachel has seen with neighbors Monica and Emory Breedlove. Rachel saw the TV news reports about her father's death. Christine recalls the death of a neighbor, Mrs. Post, who adored Rachel, in an accidental fall down some stairs. Christine worries when Rachel appears to be unaffected by Mark's death. Monica and Emory assure her that this is normal because children have a defense mechanism to process these things.

Christine asks Emory about a book he's writing about a female serial killer. Emory mentions a name and case of a serial killer, Bessie Danker, that Christine's father, Richard Bravo, worked on years earlier and the name seems to resonate with Christine. Rachel is outside playing when the maintenance man, Leroy Jessup, mentions that she doesn't seem sorry about Mark's death, to which she replies, "Why should I feel sorry? He's the one that's dead."

Christine goes to meet with Ms. Fern to discuss something important. Ms. Fern says that Rachel may finish out the remainder of the current school term, but that she will not be welcomed back next semester, to The Fern Academy due to concerns about her behavior. Ms. Fern says others witnessed Rachel arguing with Mark, and that he was last seen running from her. Rachel denied this, and Ms. Fern thinks Rachel deliberately lied. Ms. Fern says the penmanship medal was missing. Rachel insists she didn't take the medal, but admits she lied to Ms. Fern because she didn't want to be blamed.

When they get home, there is a couple, Rita and Fred Daigler, that have come to talk with them. Rita knows Rachel was the last person to see Mark alive and she is looking for the medal. Rachel goes out to play and Christine invites The Daiglers to come inside for coffee. Rita is desperate to find the medal, because of the significance to Mark that winning it was. Christine apologizes, but is adamant that she and Rachel do not know where it is. As the Daiglers leave, Rita mentions the bruises on Mark's body.

Monica comes by to get the locket she'd given Rachel as a gift so that she can take it to the jeweller to have the gemstone changed for her. Christine is horrified to find the penmanship medal while looking for the locket. She confronts Rachel about it, and she admits that she lied. She says she asked Mark if she could see the medal, and he said no. She offered him money to let her carry it around, and he agreed. She says she lied because she thought people would think she stole it.

Rachel is outside playing when Leroy brings up his theory about her killing Mark. She counters his attack by bringing up things she knows about him and they threaten each other with info that could be used as blackmail.

Christine considers whether a lack of morality can be hereditary. Later, Christine has a nightmare that she is a little girl who is being chased through a cornfield by a woman, Bessie Danker, with a knife. She awakens and realizes she is related to Bessie Danker because she is called by "Christine Danker". The next day, Richard confirms that the details of Christine's recurring nightmare are actually a true memories, and they adopted her after Bessie was arrested. They didn't tell her about it because they thought she was too young to remember, and Christine worries that Rachel may have inherited psychopathy from Bessie.

Rachel is playing when Leroy provokes her into argument. He mentions that trace evidence can be found even if someone tries to wash it away and that there is an electric chair for children. She thinks he is lying until he calls Emory over to verify that some things Leroy mentioned are true.

Christine catches Rachel trying to dispose of her shoes. She realizes they were used in Mark's killing because of the bruises he had. Leroy lies to Rachel by telling her he got her shoes out of the incinerator before they burned up. He becomes her next victim when she locks him into a shed and sets it on fire. Christine attempts a murder-suicide by giving Rachel an overdose of sleeping pills, and shooting herself with a revolver. Rachel survives and goes to live with Richard.


Major characters

Minor characters

  • Eve Smith as Mrs. Post
  • Carol Locatell as Rita Daigler
  • Weldon Bleiler as Fred Daigler
  • Anne Haney as Alice Fern
  • Rebecca Birken as young Christine Danker


  1. Barbara Holosopple (February 7, 1985). "Remake of film classic 'The Bad Seed' fizzles". The Pittsburgh Press.
  2. Joan Hanauer (February 6, 1985). "'Bad Seed' proves bad girls are fun". Record-Journal.
  3. John Corry (February 7, 1985). "MURDEROUS CHILD IN 'THE BAD SEED'". The New York Times.
  4. "The Palm Beach Post - Google News Archive Search". 20 July 2012. Archived from the original on 20 July 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  5. Judy Flander (February 7, 1985). "'The Bad Seed' sprouts a solid, chilling plot". Lakeland Ledger.
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