Saturday, September 2, 2023


* Spoiler Alert! This critical essay presumes the reader's familiarity with the 1956 film The Bad Seed and features major spoilers. Plot points and details related to both films are divulged for critical discussion and analysis.

Show of hands; how many of you folks out there were aware of a 1963 Turkish remake of that beloved camp classic about pigtails, penmanship, and passed-on psychopathology, The Bad Seed (1956)? That many, huh? I don't believe you.
Please appreciate, dear reader, any aspersions cast on your doubtless incontrovertible honesty is simply me projecting my absolute gobsmacked astonishment at how—after being near-obsessed with The Bad Seed for nigh on six decades—I've only just NOW discovered this movie! And it commemorating its 60th anniversary, no less.

From what little I've been able to glean, Kötü Tohum (Bad Seed) was a very popular release in its country of origin but was never given a foreign market release in the U.S. .… perhaps for copyright-related reasons (its score is comprised of music culled from disparate sources, e.g., Leonard Bernstein's "Maria" cha-cha from West Side Story and Alex North's "Unchained Melody.”) All of which would explain why I never saw it, but does absolutely nothing toward clearing up how, in all these years, I never managed to hear or read a single word about the existence of this extraordinary remake of a lifelong favorite. Indeed, had it not been for a blurry, TV-to-VHS transfer of Kötü Tohum popping up in my YouTube suggestions menu a few years back (which seems to be the only copy in circulation), I might never have seen it at all.

Nancy Kelly as Christine Penmark and Patty McCormack as Rhoda Penmark

By way of a bit of backstory: The Bad Seed is a 1954 bestselling suspense novel by William March whose plot is built on the somewhat wobbly premise of an angel-faced 8-year-old inheriting the homicidal genes of her serial-killer grandmother. The then-explosive theme of a child committing cold-blooded murders appealed to Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Maxwell Anderson (Key Largo, Anne of the Thousand Days), who turned March's book into a Tony Award-winning Broadway play later that year.

The sweet smell of Broadway success wafted all the way to Hollywood, and in 1956, movie director Mervyn LeRoy (Little Caesar, Gypsy) retained the services of most of the Broadway cast for the somewhat sensationalized screen adaptation. The Hays Office, Hollywood's self-regulating censorship board, mandated The Bad Seed alter its original twist ending (which saw Rhoda getting away with her crimes) to one in which Rhoda involuntarily keeps an appointment with "Heaven's Electric Chair." With a reassuring "cast curtain call," coda tacked on for good measure. The movie version of The Bad Seed was a boxoffice hit with 4 Academy Award nominations.
1956                                                1963

The Bad Seed premiered on broadcast TV in 1962, quickly becoming a late-night movie programming staple. I saw it for the first time in 1966 when I was eight. My initial impressions: a) It was really scary, b) "Au Clair de la Lune" would forever creep me out, and c) Rhoda Penmark was my first movie monster that wasn't a vampire, werewolf, or creature from outer space.
But just as quickly—thanks to the dated artifice of its plot, its stagey over-rehearsed performances, and Patty McCormack's James-Cagney-in-a-pinafore take on Rhoda—chills were soon replaced by chuckles, and The Bad Seed morphed irretrievably into a movie I loved for its camp appeal and unintentional laughs. 
Stateside, The Bad Seed has only spawned TV movie remakes. 
The first, starring David Carradine & Blair Brown, aired on ABC in 1985. The latter two (2018 & 2022) were rare non-Christmas-themed Lifetime Network movies in which Patty McCormack appeared as an unusually inept child psychologist. Rob Lowe gender-flipped the Nancy Kelly role in the 2018 movie, which I think abandoned the whole hereditary thing (I can't be sure because I fell asleep watching it).      

Subsequent TV movie remakes (at least three, by my count) sought to rectify this, but those not hampered by their utter lack of distinction in the casting department (not just any kid with a SAG card can step into Patty McCormack's metal-cleated Mary Janes) betrayed their fundamental lack of understanding of the material by wrongheadedly trying to turn The Bad Seed into some kind of "invincible killer" franchise like The Omen or Godzilla.  Instead of finding something new in the material or, at the very least, having a clue as to what made The Bad Seed work in the first place, each new iteration only confirmed and solidified The Bad Seed's already high-ranking status in the canons of camp. 

I expected more of the same when I settled in to watch Kötü Tohum.

The very LAST thing I expected was to be moved to tears (!) by a sensitive, thoughtfully reimagined adaptation that remains doggedly faithful to the original (it keeps the Hollywood-mandated finale) yet strikes out on its own with an insolent daring that borders on brilliance. 
In prioritizing action over exposition, human emotion over melodrama, and narrative conflict over genre-driven shock mechanisms, Kötü Tohum is an act of (little)monster regeneration rivaling anything attempted by Dr. Frankenstein.

Alev Oraloglu as Alev Caliktas - (Rhoda Penmark)
Lale Oraloglu as Lale Celiktas - (Christine Penmark)

Ozturk Serengil as Memo - (Leroy) 
Nedret Guvenc as Nuran Seren - (Mrs. Hortense Daigle)
Levent Haskan as Cemel Seren - (Claude Daigle)

Real-life mother and daughter Lale and Alev Oraloğlu star as the Christine and Rhoda Penmark of Kötü Tohum; their performances' relaxed, easy chemistry setting this adaptation's naturalistic tone. Both actresses reprise the roles they originated in a successful 1961 theatrical run of The Bad Seed performed at Istanbul's Oraloğlu Theater (founded in 1960 by Lale Oraloğl—an esteemed actress, director, writer, & producer…with her husband, journalist Ali Oraloğlu). 

[NOTE* I'm claiming the "Old Dogs, New Tricks" rule here: The 1956 movie has been in my pop culture Rolodex for too long. For the sake of clarity (chiefly my own), I will be referring to all the characters in the remake by their names in the original movie.]

Hale Akinli as Mrs. Nevin - (Miss Fern)

As remakes go, Kötü Tohum is a perfect example of the adage: It's not the tale; it's in the telling. 
Part of the shock value of the original The Bad Seed (released when idealized images of ‘50s middle-class life flourished via TV shows like Leave It To  Beaver, Father Knows Best, and The Donna Reed Show) was rooted in the distasteful notion that a child (innocence itself) from a good home and raised with all the advantages of wealth and a good neighborhood, could ever turn out to be a coldblooded killer.  

The 1956 Bad Seed portends to be a “Nature vs. Nurture” debate, but there’s never really any doubt that the whitebread suburban ideal of Rhoda’s upbringing will prove blameless for what Rhoda has become. A verdict of “Nature” (she inherited her evil, end of story) restores conformist order and absolves the surviving characters from having to ask themselves what part their blinkered ignorance, pampered over-indulgence, and perfectionist values of achievement (“Oh, you like little girls to curtsy?”) played in fostering Rhoda’s psychopathy.

Christine's landlords are no longer Monica Breedlove and her "larvated homosexual" brother Emory. In the remake, they are (r.) Mrs. Malek (Bedia Muvahhit) and her daughter (center) Gonul (Suna Pekuysal). Both are depicted as horribly elitist snobs. 

Kötü Tohum—directed and adapted screenplay by Nevzat Pesen—retains all the pertinent aspects of The Bad Seed's plot, but in the retelling, it looks at the insulated, elitist world of the privileged classes and sees it as EXACTLY the sort of environment where narcissism is cultivated, a lack of compassion is normalized, and rabid self-interest and the casual disregard for the humanity of others could easily go unnoticed. In such surroundings, a pint-sized sociopath would call no attention to herself. 

The Seren Family: Nuran, Cemel, & Yilmaz (Muzaffer Yenen) / Claude Daigle & parents 
The most startling and noteworthy of Kötü Tohum's narrative inventions is the decision to make the traditionally unseen character of Claude Daigle a major protagonist. Written (to heartbreaking effect...they even give him an impending birthday) to be the sweetest, most compassionate character in the movie, Claude's prominence in the story has a seismic impact on every aspect of the film.     

Kötü Tohum has been very effectively opened up and spends a great deal of time showing us Rhoda's relationship with Claude—they're classroom seatmates, Claude harboring a bit of a puppy love crush on Rhoda that somewhat blinds him to her polite indifference. The film trims away a great deal of narrative fat (bye-bye to the Freudian mumbo-jumbo, windy true-crime debates, and endless mansplaining) and makes the bold choice to dramatize events that occur offscreen or are merely talked about in the original (we're shown the Penmanship Contest [Yay!] and we actually see the murders [Yikes!]).
Rhoda goes head-to-head with her nemesis, handyman Leroy. Only this time, it's no dainty tea set they're squaring off over; it's a toy train set. One whose propulsive force (that only goes in circles) is a marvelously cinematic analogy for their roundelay sparring.

The cumulative effect (and one that proves a major plus) is that Christine's emotional journey of discovery is no longer so centralized. Indeed, her big "Whose child am I?" revelation scene is introduced and dispensed with so quickly that it feels as though the director was embarrassed by the whole "My child inherited my mom's skipped-a-generation serial killer genes" gimmick.
Whatever instincts inspired Pesen's decisions in adapting the material, I must say they're exemplary. He and his talented cast have made Kötü Tohum a tighter, more cinematic, and, ultimately, for me, the most satisfying retelling of The Bad Seed.
The Bad Seed meets its match in the superb Kötü Tohum  

My gripe with most remakes is that they're so often these totally superfluous, market-driven retreads with nothing new to add. Kötü Tohum is the only remake of The Bad Seed to attempt to use the material to say something beyond the genre scope of its premise. Every scene written by Nevzat Pesen serves double duty: 1) as a critique of classism, bourgeois society, and its tendency to prioritize its needs over the concerns of others; 2) as a means of adding complexity to the characters and context to their relationships.

The Penmanship Contest
A fascinating fabrication of this remake is seeing just how the Penmanship Contest goes down. The entire class participates, and Rhoda (seated next to Claude) is as serious as a heart attack. Disaster strikes when her pencil breaks mid-test, leading her to turn wordlessly to Claude with a "Well...?" look on her face (though previously shown as aloof to his friendly overtures, it’s clear she’s not above exploiting his crush when she wants something).
Claude obliges by giving her his pencil (no “Thank you” from Rhoda), and while she resumes the contest, he sharpens the pencil and returns to his own paper. The director inserts a shot of their teacher catching sight of this act of gallantry, offering the tantalizing suggestion that Claude’s humanist values (prioritizing kindness over winning) may have also played a part in his ultimately winning the contest. 
The School Pageant
To be found in no other existing version of The Bad Seed is this marvelous school recital sequence held a few days after the Penmanship Contest. As the scene opens, Claude is shown dancing a vigorous twist onstage while Rhoda glowers at him from the wings. In the audience, the beaming Daigles sit within unfortunate earshot of Rhoda's mother and the two snobbish landladies; the latter commenting rudely on what an egregious error it was to have awarded the medal to anyone but Rhoda. 
Rhoda soon appears onstage in a meta, art-reflects-Iife number that sees a host of little girls dancing in tutus having their frolic brought to an abrupt halt by the intrusion of Rhoda brandishing a rifle (!). Understandably, the toe dancers scatter, leaving Rhoda (apparently playing a shepherd) with the stage all to herself, going solo. As she does every day in the school playground.
The Flashback
One of the principal virtues of Kötü Tohum is that it feels like a thriller made by a director who hasn't learned the clichés of the genre. As evidenced in the flashback sequence devised to accompany Rhoda's confession to her mother that she killed Claude at the picnic for the Penmanship Medal. Though an emotionally harrowing sequence, it's not written with any of the melodrama one would expect. The remake stays true to the characters' psychology, so instead of having Rhoda single-mindedly stalk Claude around the picnic grounds like Bruce the Shark in Jaws, Kötü Tohum introduces a note of tragic poignancy. It's Cladue who pursues. 
True to form, Rhoda is off to herself at the picnic, brooding while the other children play. Claude deserts his friends to check on Rhoda, who, in a repeat of her "willingness to exploit a vulnerability" behavior during the contest, informs Claude that she’s going off by herself to the lake, making sure to drop the bomb “You can come if you want to” as she departs. Poor lovestruck Claude follows, his doom truly sealed when Rhoda takes his hand in her first and only display of friendliness towards him. 
"What will you give me for a basket of kisses?"

The general mindset of American pop culture is that the darker or more hopeless something is, the more inherently "real" or true-to-life it must be. Happy endings, or conclusions where justice is meted out, are seen as pure Hollywood copouts. 
I'm unaware of 1963 Turkish cinema being bound by any of the censorship constraints of Hollywood, 1956, so the decision to retain The Bad Seed's Hollywood ending over the play's original twist (ironic, cynical) ending is perhaps surprising, but it's also consistent; Kötü Tohum is a very moral movie.
Where The Bad Seed often emphasized shock and melodrama, Kötü Tohum just broke my heart in the way it gave prominence to the pain of grief and loss. The actors in this film are first-rate.    

Indeed, Kötü Tohum's prime distinguishing trait is its humanist perspective. Through its expansion and centralizing of the Claude Daigle character (representing the virtues of decency, kindness, and compassion), I felt the film established the crucial elements of its moral universe. To end on a note of irony or "twist" for the sake of an audience gasp would feel incredibly irresponsible to me.
And how is Rhoda getting the "Leave Her to Heaven" retribution treatment any kind of a happy ending, anyway? It's only a happy ending if you forget about Claude's anguished parents, Leroy's agony, or absentee dad Mr. Penmark losing both his wife and daughter within days of one another.

He doesn't, and they don't.

I don't usually recommend the movies I write about, but if you're a fan of The Bad Seed, I would definitely recommend keeping your eyes open for a copy of this movie on YouTube or elsewhere online. I won't say you'll feel the same way as I do about it, but  I'm certain you'll find comparing the differences between the two irresistible.

All Grown Up
I don't know if the mother and daughter acting team of Lale Oraloğlu and Alev Oraloğlu ever made another film together, but they appeared in several productions at Istanbul's Oraloğlu Theater. Lale Oraloğlu, who passed away in 2007 at 82, had a long and distinguished career in virtually every facet of TV, film, and theater…in front of and behind the scenes. Kötü Tohum was Alev Oraloğlu's first leading role in a movie. Following in her mother’s footsteps, she continues to act in television, film, and theater today.

Copyright © Ken Anderson   2009 - 2023


  1. I first saw "The Bad Seed" as a teenager and was one of those viewers profoundly relieved to see both the horrible Rhoda get her just desserts and the silly coda which communicated clearly that this was all just "fun and games." Then I read the play it was based on and realized that the original darker ending (Rhoda survives) was more effective. So I was interested in your take on this film and jumped to YouTube to watch it. I have to agree with you that Kotu Tohum is the more effective film, despite retaining the "Rhoda struck down by a force of nature" ending. First of all, the acting is just better. Patty McCormack (who surprisingly grew into a warm congenial actress) and Nancy Davis give performances both mannered and a bit over the top. The actresses here are more natural. I particularly enjoyed Lale Oraloglu's portrayal. Her slow but steady realization of her daughter's true nature was more effective than Davis' histrionics. And I was struck at the effectiveness of the young Alev, particularly the point where she stares so coldly at the sleazy taunting handyman that he takes a step back. Second, I think you're right that adding in the character of Claude (Cemel) was a good choice, in particular showing him being kind to Rhoda and interacting cheerfully with his parents. It does open up the film considerably, as you said. (The original film always felt a bit "housebound" to me). Finally, if you came to this film with no prior knowledge of its content, you'd probably have hard time figuring out exactly what it's about. It feels a lot like a "slice of life" film with its happy kids, teachers and parents all doing every day activities (though I'm not sure little kids doing the twist is exactly "every day"). So Claude's death suddenly announced over the radio must have been a shock for the naïve viewer. So thanks for the recommendation! I did find comparing the two films an interesting exercise.

    1. Hello Ron –
      I’m the same; as a kid, I also thought The Bad Seed's "It's only a movie" coda was a relief. Later, when I read the play, the twist ending felt surprising and just dark enough. However, by the time The Bad Seed's first TV movie remake aired with the play’s ending restored, THE OMEN had already appropriated that twist to such great effect; by then, it had begun to feel anticlimactic to me in context with The Bad Seed.

      I’m pleased you sought out KOTU TOHUM because reading someone else’s thoughts on the film is like looking at it again. I respond enthusiastically to your comments on the performances of Lale & Alev Oraloglu, because they really make this the superior version for me. And that’s not taking a single thing away from the American version. It’s just so gratifying to be cable to take the material seriously after all this time.

      I was especially taken with how Alev plays the scenes where she’s confessing her crimes. There is no playing to the drama. She’s so chilling because she relays these horrible things like there’s absolutely nothing wrong in what she did. And how about that scene where she’s getting into her playclothes after killing Claude and sings that little nursery rhyme that amounts to the Turkish version of “He Had It Comin’”?

      I like your point about how this version would play if you came to it without prior knowledge of its genre. If you take away the opening titles with those spooky eyes (Alev has a GREAT scary stare) indeed the film plays out very simply and even rather charmingly…and then.. that death from out of nowhere would feel like PSYCHO.

      I was just so impressed with this movie, and disappointed that it isn’t better known. Everyone involved did such a remarkable job, it feels as though the best remake of one of my favorite films has been kept a secret.
      I'm glad you didn't feel my "recommendation" led you down a bad path, and I thank you for contributing your thoughts on this rarity. You're always so terrific (brave?) about checking out some of the odd films I comment upon, and I always appreciate your taking the time to share your own take. Thanks for reading this, Ron!

  2. Very fascinating! I haven't seen it because until this very moment I'd never KNOWN about it, as you've correctly implied. I was curious, because I don't think you mentioned it, how Claude's mother did, considering how unforgettable Eileen Heckart was in the original, and if she gets a big, showy grief scene in this like in the original. How great that you uncovered this buried treasure so that people can check out an alternate version of a movie many people love for one reason or another. I didn't know about those late-2010s TV updates, but that 1985 one was downright WRETCHED!!! Ha ha!

    1. Hi Jon!
      Yes, I'm still flabbergasted by how a film this good has never managed to pop up in ANY film book I've read, or ever been mentioned in any historical context in regard to the original. Such a find. I may rail on about the internet now and then, but it has brought a lot of rare and downright obscure movies to light.
      I'm so glad you asked about the role of Mrs. Daigle, for hers is another character that "Kötü Tohum" expands to marvelous effect. Eileen Heckart is so wonderful in the original that I won't rate one performance as better than the other, but I will say that Nedret Guvenc in "Kötü Tohum" is the one responsible for giving me waterworks when I watched it.
      The Eileen Heckart role has built-in empathy, but we only meet her after the tragedy. The Turkish film bumps up the pathos by giving us early scenes of Mrs. Daigle with her family (planning Claude's birthday party and revealing that she doesn't drink at all), so by the time she appears in the familiar scenes in the Penmark household, she is not so much an isolated pathetic figure, but more a character we’ve come to care about.
      Her scenes at the Penmark house play out pretty much exactly the same, as in the American film, but because the acting isn’t so stagy and it is devoid of a lot of routine "drunk" histrionics, it felt more powerful to me. There’s nothing showy about it; it just feels very real and very sad.
      Like you, I disliked the 1985 TV movie remake. (I researched old newspaper reviews because I thought it would be panned. To my surprise, it garnered good reviews!) But the 1985 movie looks like Citizen Kane next to those dreadful Lifetime movie versions.

      Until this Turkish adaptation, I've never seen any young actress come close to Patty McCormack in terms of screen presence. But little Alev gives is a different “Rhoda” that is terrifying in a thoroughly different way.

      You're a gent, Jon, for always stopping by and checking out my posts. With your taking the effort to comment, I'm always grateful not just for the continued opportunity to read what you think about the movies I write about (happily, our tastes so often intersect), but for your contribution to making the comments section of my blog one of the few that readers actually look forward to reading. Thanks, and cheers!

  3. Dear Ken,
    Much thanks for writing about this Polish version of “The Bad Seed”! The original is a great favorite of mine, and it would be most interesting to see how a different version of it might play out. I will surely look for it.
    I first saw the original version when I was around 11, which would have been about 1968. I was home alone in the house and was absolutely terrified! Years later I revisited the film and I must admit I appreciated it’s camp aspects more than I ever would have at age 11 (not that I would have known then what “camp” was). But just a brief (and I think, semi-amusing story) about seeing the film again about 4 years ago.
    In viewing the film, I was shocked to realize that the character of Emory Wages was portrayed by the actor Jesse White, who for people of a certain age is recognizable as the “Maytag Man” in the commercial that seemed to air endlessly in the 1970s. But wait, there’s more!
    I commute between Baltimore and DC by commuter rail, and sometimes I amuse myself by observing people in the waiting room at Penn Station. After having seen “The Bad Seed’ again, I realized that a guy I had been observing in the station was a dead ringer for Maytag Man! In fact, I started calling him “Son of Maytag Man” (although not to his face).
    I suppose that without the miracle of Wikipedia I would have wondered endlessly about the identity of this actor and why I thought he was so familiar. But now I know.
    I was also inspired to read the novel, and if you think the film is a bit talky, try hunkering down with the book! It seems to go on and on about psychological theory, and in the end gets a bit tiresome.
    Thanks again for this great analysis, Ken. I will look for the Polish version as soon as I can.

    1. Hello Huston-
      Thank you for a delightful comment contribution! I always get a kick out of learning about the first time someone sees a particular film. Your getting your first dose of "The Bad Seed" at such an impressionable age (and in a house alone!) seems ideal, if perhaps a candidate for kinder-trauma. A movie as theatrical and stagy as "The Bad Seed" dates so very quickly that it helps a great deal to see it before one develops an understanding of what "camp" is. It also didn't hurt that you saw it in the late' 60s—when murderous children were an unheard-of and terrifying concept for a movie.

      Like you, seeing “The Bad Seed” inspired me to read the novel, but not until many years later. I don’t recall much about it now, except I remember that the character of Leroy was depicted as being meaner to little Rhoda: just before she decided to incinerate him, he had given her a box wrapped as a present which contained a dead rat from the cellar with a ribbon tied around its neck!

      Lastly, thanks for bringing up character actor Jess White. For his small role, he never gets much love in articles about “The Bad Seed” (I didn't even mention him in my own review of the film), but he was a memorable and identifiable TV fixture for folks our age as Mr. Maytag, the loneliest man in town.
      When my sisters and I saw him in this and on TV shows like “That Girl,” we never sought to learn his name; we only ever referred to him as “Mr. Maytag.” (It is remarkable that he held that job for something like 20 years!) I wonder if Jess White is a familiar enough actor for anyone to have ever pointed out the resemblance to the fellow you saw on your commute?

      Thanks, Huston, for reading this post and I hope someday you get an opportunity to see this Turkish version of THE BAD SEED. It probably won’t be as scary to you as when you were 11, but I’d bet it won’t be as campy, either! Cheers and best regards!

  4. Hello,
    Have you ever heard of the two American sequels ? MOMMY and MOMMY'S DAY ?
    Thanks for this great article -- and for your website, by the way...

    1. Hello bbjane –
      Thank you for bringing up those two direct-to-video "spiritual sequels" to THE BAD SEED (although they feature the adult Patty McCormack more or less playing Rhoda Penmark as psychopathic mom, and several "homage"-like references are made to the original [like naming an annoying janitor character Jones in tribute to the original Leroy, Henry Jones] this low-budget movie couldn't get or couldn't afford the rights to "The Bad Seed," so McCormack is merely called Mom or Mrs. Sterling in a way that winks to the audience.

      I'd only learned of MOMMY (1995) and MOMMY's DAY (1997) while researching this piece, and checked out the first film on YouTube.
      Although McCormack is very good, indeed, much better than the film deserves, I can't say I enjoyed it at all. It does nobody any favors. It cheapens McCormack and her BAD SEED legacy because it feels like such a lowball cash-grab exploitation of her signature role.
      As a movie, MOMMY falls into the trap of all the official American remakes and sequels to THE BAD SEED : they just insert Rhoda Penmark into the well-worn slasher film format. She isn't even given a character...she's Jason, Freddie, etc. All she does is pop up at regular intervals to kill someone.
      In "MOMMY" the plot is basically a retread of "THE BAD SEED," only with McCormack killing off people to secure a Student of the Year award for her daughter. You're never quite sure of the film's tone: camp homage, serious slasher movie, tongue-in-cheek thriller…etc.
      It was released not long after John Waters' far superior "Serial Mom" (1994) and feels llike it might have been an effort to capture that kind of sincere irreverence, but it didn't really work for me.

      But I thank you so much for contributing to this post by bringing these two obscure movies to readers' attention. I wasn't willing to subject myself to MOMMY'S DAY, but maybe there are some THE BAD SEED completists who will get a kick out of seeing what some screenwriter imagines a grown-up Rhoda (or Rhoda type) to be.
      It’s always nice seeing the criminally underused Patty McCormack in anything. As one commenter noted, she grew up to be quite a good actress.

      By th way, did you write about either of these films on your own (terrific) film blogs?
      Thank you very much for reading this post and I'm very happy you like the website. Very nice of you to say. Cheers!

  5. I was 15 years old when I first watched this movie on television, it was in 1968. I was impressed again. It will seem strange to you that I say "again". Because the truth of the matter is that in 1962, I watched Alev & Lale Oraloğlu again in the play "Bad Seed", but in the theater. Of course, I will talk about the details I remember about the movie that you may not know (since the version published on YouTube has nearly half an hour of cuts in total). But first, I will talk about the background of the movie for you. Especially for you to get to know Lale Oraloğlu a little.

    Although I still remember the movie with appreciation today, I have to say that the duo's performance in the theater was much more striking. The probable reason for this was that for the first time in Turkish theater stages, a realistic sociopath character was played so successfully, and moreover, by a little child. The impact was so great that the play occupied the agenda of art critics, columnists and the public for a long time after the premiere night. Alev Oraloğlu, a very young child, surprised everyone with her realistic performance beyond expectations and was highly praised. The staging, script arrangement and the joint performance of mother and daughter received the first great praise. Lale was already a respected and popular actress (I will tell you the reasons why I say this in a moment). However, in addition to the positive criticisms about the game, the incomprehensibly strange little discussions started by a small group of columnists soon turned into a growing series of strange things. The first issue of the play that received "negative criticism" was whether it was right for a young child to appear on stage in a role with such antisocial, psychopathic features. Some columnists took it to such a point that they claimed that this role could have terrible effects on Alev in the coming years, and that she would suffer psychological destruction under the influence of the character she played. This strange chaos continued, focusing on Lale Oraloğlu. Other journalists and critics who had similar ideas to those who started this discussion did not see any harm in focusing on the "Oraloğlu" couple, Alev's mother and father, and accusing them of behaving irresponsibly towards the child. At the time when strange ideas such as "Alev should be taken away from her family" and "Lale Oraloğlu should be punished legally and imprisoned if necessary" were put forward, a journalist interviewed Alev about "Bad Seed" and Alev's dreams for the future. Alev's childish yet clever answer to the journalist's question put an end to this series of stupidity: "When you go home after playing doctor with your friends, do you still think you are a doctor?"

    Lale Oraloğlu's life has an interesting flow that could be the subject of a movie. The biggest reason why Lale and Ali Oraloğlu (her husband) were criticized so much by journalists was that Ali was also a journalist. And actually Lale was also a journalist, between 1951-1960! Naturally, among her colleagues, there were those who liked her as well as those who did not.
    Turkish people knew Lale even before these dates, since her high school years, under the name Lale Pasinler, she was a professional athlete. Multi-professional athlete. Lale was the Turkish 400 meter swimming champion, Lale was the second in shot put in Turkey, Lale was the rowing captain of the Galatasaray Girls Rowing Team and the Turkish rowing champion. After studying piano and voice at the conservatory, she became a choir singer, then Lale became a theater actor, Lale was a journalist and sports writer, Lale was a movie actor, Lale was a director; LALE WAS THE CHAMPION OF DRINKING 4.5 LITERS OF BEER FULL OF ICE BUCKET IN ONE MOVE AT THE BEER FESTIVAL! (It's going to be a long article, so I need to add the rest of my article to the answer section.)

    1. Hello Canan,
      Thank you for your comprehensive and informative contribution to this post. I'm sure my readers feel the same when I tell you what a thrill it is to hear from someone familiar enough with Kötü Tohum and the actors to provide some much-needed history and perspective.
      I'm most impressed with your having seen the stage production! Undoubtedly, Alev & Lale Oraloğlu must have been impressive in live theater, for they are marvelously effective on film.

      Thank you for giving us so much history about both actresses. They are both so wonderful in the film, it doesn't surprise me that they are well-regarded in Turkey. It's remarkable to learn that Lale Oraloğlu was accomplished in many aspects of the arts and journalism (and an athlete, too!).
      It's so edifying to know that the themes of "The Bad Seed" were still considered controversial, and that there was such a protest regarding Alev's participation (That's a brilliant quote and anecdote you supply).

      You've provided invaluable biographical information that is very difficult to find in any recorded form for research over here. Not the least being Lale Oraloğlu championship performance at the beer festival!
      You have added so much valuable and enjoyable information and content to this essay, you deserve a co-writing credit. Thank you very much!
      (2nd reply below)

  6. Would you believe it? Lale Oraloğlu was imprisoned twice, not because of "irresponsibility" or "Bad Seed", but as a result of the decisions of a strange board called the "Censorship Board", for two other theater plays. In both cases of these unfair decisions, she made her voice known to the public and was released from prison using the same method: "Hunger strike"! In fact, her second hunger strike to protest the wrong decisions of the "Censorship Board" resulted in the enactment of a law in her name in the Grand National Assembly of the Republic of Turkey! Law title: "This is Law No. 2111/78. Law Concerning Lale Oraloğlu's Amnesty for All Legal Consequences of the Punishment to which she was Sentenced"
    (It's going to be a long article, so I need to add the rest of my article to the answer section.)

    Now, let me get back to the main topic and talk about some details in Bad Seed. As you may have noticed, the only copy of the film available on the Internet these days is a very truncated, shortened version posted in parts on YouTube. Apart from that, there is also a 2 minute and 40 second "trailer video", probably made by a moviegoer. ( ) In this video, you can see many scenes that do not exist in the partial version of the movie.

    Let me tell you about some details that I remember. Let me start with the Penmanship competition. As you can see, Cemal, acting in a gentlemanly manner (actually succumbing to his weaknesses), gives his pen to Alev. The announcement of the results of the Penmanship competition, which we could not see in the version on YouTube, was a scene like this: While the winner of the medal was to be announced, Alev, who was sure that he would win, waited with a tense expression for the result to be announced. Cemal, noticing Alev's tension, held her hand, Alev did not even react to him. At that time, the teacher announces the result of the competition by saying: "Cemal Seren, student number 25 in our class, won the gold medal in the Penmanship competition, all of you can come here and congratulate him." When Cemal receives his medal, all the other students in the class run to the podium to congratulate him, except for one person. We see Alev, who is not at all happy with the result, sitting in her chair, breathing deeply, watching the podium and Cemal with an expression that is so wild and hateful that it can be called animalistic. Then the camera focuses on the pen that Alev is holding with both hands. Alev breaks the pencil in half and puts it under the table. This is a very important symbolic expression. Because in traditional Turkish Law, there is an expression called "breaking the pen" and this expression is used in the sense of death penalty, giving a death sentence for someone. The pen that Alev broke here clearly shows the decision he made about Cemal.

    1. Hello Canan (part 2)
      So surprising to hear of Lale Oraloğlu having been imprisoned twice. She sounds very much like a strong artistic voice. And for women she must have been something of a role model. She sounds so untraditional in the way she seemed to exert control over her art and career.

      Now, on to the movie.

      From the description of the scenes you provide, I am confident that the version of "Kötü Tohum" I saw two years ago (during the pandemic lockdown) is not the same as the one available on YouTube now. The version I saw was of no better quality, but it contained all the scenes you cited. I now feel very grateful to have seen the version with so many essential scenes still intact.
      Your memory is excellent, as each scene plays out just as recall (and there is indeed a scene where the teacher visits Lale's home to inform her that the school will no longer accept Alev).
      The Penmanship Contest scene is one of my favorites. Alev is very scary-looking glaring at poor Cemal that way.
      Since the only version of "Kötü Tohum" available on YouTube now seems to be the shorter edit, you provide a valuable "filler" service here, filling in the blank spots for readers who have encountered the film for the first time and are perhaps wondering what they missed. Thanks again! (3rd reply below)

  7. Cemal's death announcement scene, which you said seemed strange, fast and shocking to you, is not actually a shocking death. Again a flaw of the shortened version on Youtube. Because the picnic scenes were actually quite long. It starts with the students getting on the bus from the school garden, we hear the children's songs on the bus, and we witness a strange conflict between Alev and Cemal for the first time. (Cemal attempts to rebel against Alev for the first time, but within minutes he will regret it and apologize many times during the picnic, but what is the use of apologizing anymore!) And most importantly, we see Alev killing Cemal here by the lake by kicking his head repeatedly and crushing him. The radio announcement of the news of his death at the picnic ended with the words of the announcer, after Cemal's mother had a nervous breakdown and fell to the ground: "Now you will listen to dance pieces from European music." Is it some kind of media criticism? (The lake and the forest area where the Pinkin scenes were shot is a natural park that is still under protection in Istanbul today, the park is called "Yildiz Grove". The building where the house shootings took place was the house called "Villa Zarif" in Tarabya, Istanbul.)

    If I'm not mistaken, one of the scenes that wasn't in the version you watched was the scene where the teacher called Alev's mother to the school for a meeting and informed her that they didn't want Alev at school. I seem to recall that they didn't fully explain why.

    Another scene, Alev was burning Memo in the haystack. Because he threatened to give the shoes Alev wore during the murder to the police. We were watching Memo burn and scream while holding on to the barred windows of the barn. He immediately realized that it was Alev who burned the haystack, and he was shouting, "I didn't steal, I didn't take the shoes!"
    Unfortunately, this scene is not in the only example of the movie that can be found now.
    Alev explains this "simple" case as follows: "Memo took my shoes and said he would give them to the police and "make me cry". That's why I burned him."

    I wish we could watch this valuable movie uninterrupted. I hope it happens one day :)

    1. Hello Canan! (part 3)
      It was actually a reader commenting on seeing "Kötü Tohum" on YouTube who expressed how, in the far more naturalistic Turkish version, Cemal's death feels more "surprising" (as in, unexpected) because it's not telegraphed or anticipated by the usual tropes of suspense films and horror movies.

      Having seen the extended picnic sequence, I too find it to be very effective in setting up Cemal's murder. Seeing Alev and Cemal sitting side by side singing together on the bus (preceded by a great shot of the kids queueing up to embark, and Alev…always keeping apart from the others…having to be told to join the line) only makes his death all the more harrowing.

      Since this film is so unfamiliar in the US, I should tell you you're providing a great service to readers with your detailed description of the scenes. I also must thank you for translating what is said on the radio after Cemal's death is announced (it's not subtitled and now that I know what is said, in context, it DOES seem as though it's a media critique). That you are able to share with us the names of the locations used for the picnic and the scenes at Lale & Alev's home is far beyond what I ever imagined possible in the way of behind-the-scenes details about the making of this movie.

      Lastly, I'm so shocked to learn that tow of my favorite scenes in "Kötü Tohum" : Memo's death and Alev's chillingly matter-of-fact explanation for the murder are not in the currently available YouTube version. That's a shame, for Alev's performance at this point is so very good.
      Canan, it has been such a pleasure to read your article which must have taken some time to compose. I thank you for reading this post and genuinely for the stupendous contribution you made here by giving us the benefit of your long-term familiarity with this film and the artists involved.
      Like you, I hope that one day this wonderful movie becomes more readily available (I wondered if it is as as hard to find in Turkey). It's the best remake of an American cult classic. more people should be able to see it! Thank you, and all my best!