A Bucket of Blood

January 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm (7 Heads, Bucket of Blood) (, , , , )

A Bucket of Blood – 1959 – United States

A Bucket of Blood, with The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) and Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961), forms a trilogy of horror/comedy collaborations between director/producer Roger Corman and writer Charles B. Griffith. A Bucket of Blood stars the prolific Dick Miller whose 175 acting credits include early Corman flicks: It Conquered the World (1956), Not of this Earth (1957), War of the Satellites (1958), and The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), and later blockbusters: Gremlins (1984), The Terminator (1984), and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990). Miller’s A Bucket of Blood character is Walter Paisley, a name appearing in other Dick Miller appearances like Hollywood Boulevard (1976), The Howling (1981), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), Chopping Mall (1986), Night of the Creeps (1986) as “Walt”, and Shake, Rattle, and Rock! (1994) as “Officer Paisley”.

A Bucket of Blood’s title is misleading. Blood and buckets are nowhere to be found. The plot follows an awkward busboy at a beatnik café. His desire for attention drives him to murder folks and encase their disfigured bodies in clay. He wins adoration from artists and posers until his grisly technique is revealed. Pursued by the police, the busboy hangs himself, at which his colleagues predictably quip, “His greatest work.”

A Bucket of Blood’s humor rises from absurdity rather than gags. Fickle and posturing beatniks are satirized and the busboy is cartoonishly introverted. However, A Bucket of Blood muses seriously about the nature of fame. The busboy makes art solely to gain acceptance. Killing his third victim, he mutters, “I’ve got to do something more before they forget me.” Initially he is piteous, but as he gains renown, his inflated pretensions conceal his insecurity. Though even at his most egotistical, the busboy is more tragic than vile.

Typical of Corman, A Bucket of Blood was shot in 5 days and cost $50,000. It shows. The story is rigidly confined to an apartment and a café. There are few effects and numerous long takes. At least the gruesome clay statues are chilling, especially the strangled nude. Unfortunately, thrift compromises A Bucket of Blood’s climax. The busboy intends to cover himself with clay. All he manages are a few daubs on his face. Try harder.

Occasionally, Corman flicks surpass the sum of their lackluster parts. A Bucket of Blood is an example. It’s simple and obviously cheap, but the premise, mixing of horror, comedy, and social commentary, still resonates.

Rating: 7/10 Shrunken Heads. Click the superb poster below to see it larger.

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