"The Bad Seed" is a 1956 horror mystery movie that was loosely inspired by a true story. Based on the novel by William March, the movie stars Nancy Kelly and Patty McCormack as Roda and Christine Penmark. In the remake, entitled "Bad Seed," which aired in 1985 starring Blair Brown and Carrie Wells, the names were changed to Christine and Rachel Penmark.
Both movies center around a loving mother who begins to notice that people and animals die after they have made contact with her nine-year-old daughter Roda. Not wanting to believe that her daughter could be a killer, Christine begins to do her own investigating which reveals the truth: her daughter is a child sociopath and a murderer. Christine, whose own mother was a serial killer, now fears that her daughter has inherited criminal tendencies that have been passed down through her family genes.
The basis for the film
According to the original production notes, William March had heard about a family who had a generation of criminals in their family line. He is said to have used possibly two studies to form the idea for his novel: "The Jukes: A Study in Crime, Pauperism, Disease and Heredity" and The Kallikak Family: A Study in the Hereditary of Feeble-Mindedness, according to Trutv.com.
The producers for the movie and the play, which were both based on the novel, based the child killer's character on those studies but with a modern spin.
Christine's serial killing mother, Bessie Denker, was inspired by Belle Gunness, according to one of the producer's of the play.
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