Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Bucket of Blood- Roger Corman at His Best


            A classic little lowbrow cinema excursion from the crown prince of low budget films, Roger Corman. This is a black comedy with horror elements attached. Hired by American International Pictures, given only a $50,000 budget and five days to shoot, Corman rushed off and hastily created a masterpiece of camp.
The film is a satire not only of Corman's own films but also of the art world and teen films of the 1950s. The film is noted as well in many circles as an honest, undiscriminating portrayal of the many pretentious facades of beatnik culture, including art, dance, and lousy style of living. The plot has similarities to Mystery of the Wax Museum. However, by setting the story in the Beat scene of 1950s California, Corman creates an entirely different mood from the earlier film.
            Written by Charles B. Griffith, it was the first of three comedy/horror collaborations between the writer and director. It was followed by Little Shop of Horrors which is much more famous, thanks to the musical created based off of it. And finally Creature from the Haunted Sea which isn’t worth mentioning except in connection to the other two.
            The protagonist is Walter Paisley, a dimwitted busboy for a beatnik café who is constantly mocked by the pompous artists and assorted riff-raff that frequent the place. Walter wants to fit in with all the other cool cats at the café, such the pompous Maxwell who recites poetry and walks with a limp, the cafe owner Leonard who wears a beret to pretend to in with the crowd but is more concerned about making a buck, and the ditzy artist Carla that wants to be surrounded by creative and artistic people, and a host of other beatnik types. To do this he tries his hand at clay sculptures, but discovers that he has no talent.
            While looking for an idea when he accidentally kills his landlady's cat. Instead of giving the feline a proper burial, Walter covers it in clay, leaving the knife stuck in. The next morning, Walter shows the cat to Carla and his boss, Leonard. Leonard dismisses the sculpture, but Carla is enthusiastic about the work and convinces Leonard to display it in the café. Walter receives praise from Maxwell and the other beatniks in the café.
            But an artist cannot just have one piece and a series of events leads Walter onto a larger sculptures with people as the base. Murder leads to murder. All of this begins to catch up with Walter, who starts drinking heavily. Leading to a brutal, but inevitable conclusion. Walter’s greatest work. Himself! 
Dick Miller as Walter Paisley
A Bucket of Blood stars the original “thank guy from that one film” actor Dick Miller, whom I am sure you will have recognized in a host of films (he has 177 acting credits to his name according to IMDB), he has only starred in three movies- this being the first. The other two were the forgettable B-movies War of the Satellites and Rock All Night. This film did have a positive effect on Miller’s career in that the character name of Walter Paisley had been adapted as an in-joke in productions such as The Howling, Chopping Mall, Twilight Zone: The Movie, and Shake, Rattle and Rock!, which credit otherwise unrelated characters played by Miller under the character name.
When first released there was a promotion in the newspaper's movie section advertisements that made the offer, "If You Bring In A Bucket Of Blood To Your Local Theater's Management (Or Ticket Booth), You Will Be Given One Free Admission." It has never been reported if someone actually took them up on the offer.
            The entire film is below. Enjoy and Caveat Emptor!