The Bad Seed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The film came with an erratic transfer.
Sharpness was the area with the most obvious inconsistencies. Some shots looked quite crisp and distinctive, but more than a few came across as fuzzy and ill-defined. I saw no pattern to these trends; the softness affected interiors and exteriors without any form of logic. Jagged edges and moiré effects remained absent, and I saw no signs of edge haloes or artifacting.
With a natural – and non-intrusive – layer of grain on display, I discerned no problematic digital noise reduction, and source flaws weren’t a factor. The film remained clean and clear,
Blacks were fairly deep and dark, but contrast could be erratic. Most of the film featured a good sense of shadows, but some scenes could appear a little too bright. That wasn’t a big concern, though. The general softness was the major problem here and the reason the image earned a “C”.
As for the monaural soundtrack of Seed, it seemed fine for its age. Speech could be a little brittle, but the lines were always intelligible and reasonably warm. Music showed decent to good range and clarity; the score displayed more than adequate vivacity.
Effects sounded acceptable. This wasn’t a movie that presented much more than general ambience, so the track didn’t have much to do, but these elements were reasonably clean and distinctive. Source problems weren’t a concern, as the mix lacked distractions. Given the limitations of the original material, I felt this was a more than adequate soundtrack.
A handful of extras finish the set. We open with an audio commentary from actor Patty McCormack and stage actor/director/playwright Charles Busch. What does Busch have to do with Bad Seed? Absolutely nothing other than interest as a fan; self-proclaimed “drag legend” Busch serves as a representative of the movie’s cult fan base who adore it for camp value. Busch sits with McCormack for a running, screen-specific chat in which she offers thoughts about cast and crew, the stage play and its adaptation, aspects of her role and performance, sets and locations, other elements of her life and career, and a mix of connected topics.
Though it peters out a bit during the film’s second half, this was usually a good chat – surprisingly good, in fact. I worried that Busch’s presence would mean a catty, campy view of the film, but he actually serves as a solid moderator; he represents the fan base well and ensures that the conversation goes smoothly. McCormack throws ina nice mix of notes that help make this a useful and engaging piece.
In addition to the film’s trailer, we find a featurette called Enfant Terrible: A Conversation with Patty McCormack. It lasts 15 minutes, 10 seconds as McCormack discusses her career as a child, auditioning for the original Bad Seed play and her work in it, shooting the film, thoughts about cast and crew as well as the movie’s legacy. I worried McCormack would repeat a lot of the same material from the commentary, but she manages a lot of fresh musings here. That makes the interview worth a look.
While it could’ve become a searing psychological thriller, The Bad Seed gets bogged down in slow storytelling, awkward exposition and hammy performances. The Blu-ray comes with erratic visuals, decent audio and a couple of interesting supplements. Neither the movie nor the Blu-ray impress.