Mervyn LeRoy’s 1956 film The Bad Seed is one of the most hair-raisingly weird movies from a decade that had no lack of the hair-raising or the weird, and 8-year-old Rhoda Penmark (played to icy perfection by then 11-year-old Patty McCormack) remains one of Hollywood’s signature sociopaths. Rhoda clubs a classmate unconscious (with her tap shoes!) and drowns him in a lake because he refuses to relinquish a school penmanship medal that Rhoda believes is hers by right. She burns a man to death because he guesses her secret. She also, it turns out, once murdered a neighbor, “old Mrs. Post” — evidently because she felt like it — a few years before the atrocious events of the movie begin. The title, meanwhile, refers to the fact that Rhoda’s mom Christine was the daughter of a serial killer, the implication of course being that Rhoda somehow inherited a murderous gene from her maternal grandma. Was she just born that way? A fascinating debate, for sure, but one that leaves Rhoda Penmark cold. After all, she can’t be bothered with such intangibles: she’s too busy with the worldly business of wholesale slaughter.