A Bucket of Blood – USA, 1959

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‘Inside every artist lurks… a madman!’

A Bucket of Blood is a 1959 American comedy horror feature film directed by Roger Corman from a screenplay by Charles B. Griffith. The movie stars Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Antony Carbone and Julian Burton.

bucket of blood title screen grab

Produced on a $50,000 budget for American International Pictures, it was shot in five days, and shares many of the low-budget filmmaking aesthetics commonly associated with Corman’s work.

A Bucket of Blood was the first of three collaborations between Corman and Griffith in the comedy genre, followed by The Little Shop of Horrors, which was shot on the same sets, and Creature from the Haunted Sea.

Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Color Me Blood Red (1964) reworks many of the same themes, plus a Beach Party element.

In Evil Toons (1992), Dick Miller watches himself on TV in a scene from A Bucket of Blood.

In 1995, Corman executive produced a remake of A Bucket of Blood, with Anthony Michael Hall taking on the role of Walter Paisley, for cable TV.

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Plot:

One night, after hearing the words of Maxwell H. Brock (Julian Burton), a poet who performs at The Yellow Door cafe, socially awkward busboy Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) returns home to attempt to create a sculpture of the face of the hostess Carla (Barboura Morris).

Walter stops when he hears the meowing of Frankie, the cat owned by his inquisitive landlady, Mrs Surchart (Myrtle Vail), who has somehow gotten himself stuck in Walter’s wall. Walter attempts to get Frankie out using a knife, but accidentally kills the cat. Instead of giving Frankie a proper burial, Walter covers the cat in clay, leaving the knife stuck in it.

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The next morning, Walter shows the cat to Carla and his boss Leonard (Antony Carbone). Leonard dismisses the oddly morbid piece, but Carla is enthusiastic about the work and convinces Leonard to display it in the café. Walter receives praise from the beatnik (John Brinkley) and poets in the café and is approached by an adoring fan, Naolia (Jhean Burton), who gives him a vial of heroin to remember her by.

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Naively ignorant of its function, he takes it home and is followed by Lou Raby (Bert Convy), an undercover cop, who attempts to take him into custody for narcotics possession. In a blind panic, thinking Lou is about to shoot him, Walter hits him with the frying pan he is holding, killing Lou instantly…

Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen, and Candy Stripe Nurses Roger Corman King of the B Movie

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Reviews:

“That this rather unflattering portrait of an insular and self-impressed art scene should ring so true today across a gulf of four decades and at least as many cycles of youth-culture reinvention shows just how much attention Corman and Griffith paid on their scouting missions.” 1000 Misspent Hours

” …works well not only as a horror film with black comedy tossed in, but as a satirical time capsule piece centered around the beatnik culture of the era (even Allen Ginsberg is lampooned by actor Julian Burton, Masque of the Red Death). Most of the humor is relegated to the beginning of the film, as there’s more of a macabre feel to the proceedings once Walter starts murdering…”  George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

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“It’s not often that shrewd commentary on postmodern art and messy murders come together in a film, and one wouldn’t expect them to do so as assuredly as this. The success of the film comes down to a perfect balance between the talents contributing to it…” Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

A Bucket of Blood is only an hour-ish long and just flies by; it has a jazzy soundtrack that fits perfectly, crazy beatnik poetry, outrageous characters, tons of laughs and a touch of grim that makes it the perfect re-watchable horror-comedy classic! Highest of Recommendations!” Goregirl’s Dungeon

how I made a hundred movies in hollywood and never lost a dime roger corman

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” …the beats were skewered in A Bucket of Blood better than many observers – from the outside – ever managed, identifying a vicious snobbery in the In Crowd that was not regularly brought into the spotlight for a caustic exposure. It wasn’t a case of the squares defending themselves against the attacks of the self-appointed cool, it was keener than that.’ Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image

“Miller, who manages to sustain a sense of poignancy while committing his atrocities, gives an excellent performance in this funny film with a good comical jazz score by Fred Katz.” TV Guide

“Dick Miller in particularly appealing as the sub-intellectual nebbish in search of recognition and love: he even manages to retain the sympathy of the viewer for most of the movie, and even after he’s gone over the deep end one still sort of feels sorry for him once the movie ends. The pretentious beatniks and culture vultures, in turn, are one and all a fun persiflage of types still recognizable today…” A Wasted Life

Cast and characters:

  • Dick Miller … Walter Paisley
  • Barboura Morris … Carla
  • Antony Carbone … Leonard de Santis
  • Julian Burton … Maxwell H. Brock
  • Ed Nelson … Art Lacroix
  • John Brinkley … Will
  • John Herman Shaner … Oscar (as John Shaner)
  • Judy Bamber … Alice
  • Myrtle Vail … Mrs Swickert (as Myrtle Damerel)
  • Bert Convy … Lou Raby (as Burt Convy)
  • Jhean Burton … Naolia
  • Bruno VeSota … Art Collector (as Bruno Ve Soto)
  • Lynn Storey … Sylvia (as Lynne Storey)
  • Tom Daly … Coffee-House patron (uncredited)
  • Alex Hassilev … Singer-Guitarist (uncredited)
  • Paul Horn … Beatnik Saxophonist (uncredited)
  • Kenner G. Kemp … Art Exhibit Patron (uncredited)
  • Sheila Noonan … Yellow Door Patron (uncredited)
  • Jeffrey Sayre … Art Exhibit Patron (uncredited)
  • Henry Travis … Art Critic (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Los Angeles, California

Technical credits:

66 minutes | black and white |1.85: 1 | mono (Ryder Sound Services)

Related:

Dick Miller – actor

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