A Bucket of Blood Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Film Detective
Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Charles B. Griffith
1959, 65 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on November 30th, 2015
Dick Miller as Walter Paisley
Barboura Morris as Carla
Antony Carbone as Leonard de Santis
Julian Burton as Maxwell H. Brock
Ed Nelson as Art Lacroix
John Brinkley as Will
Judy Bamber as Alice
Bert Convy as Lou Raby
Socially awkward Walter Paisley works at a Bohemian café, surrounded by self-important artists and beautiful women. He has a crush on Carla, but she seems more interested in the poets and musicians than a nerdy busboy. Determined to prove himself worthy of attention and accolades, Walter tries his hand at sculpting only to quickly discover that he completely lacks talent. He accidentally kills his landlord’s cat and hides the body in clay and plaster, thus creating his first work of art. Everyone at the café agrees the piece is brilliant and encourages him to sculpt more. Walter seizes this opportunity to make a name for himself and impress Carla, but he will need more subjects. Soon, the clientele grows a little smaller as bizarre human sculptures populate the space. His fame is rising, but it is only a matter of time before someone takes a closer look at Walter’s art and discovers the terrible secret just below the surface.
A Bucket of Blood is a delightful picture that mixes black humor with horror and tells a simple story about the dark appeal of fame. Screenwriter Charles B. Griffith (Death Race 2000) wrote the script for maverick independent director Roger Corman (The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre), who reportedly shot the film in only five days. There is not a lot of production value to camouflage the low-budget nature of the picture, but the story is told in such a way that is appropriate given the limitations. The streamlined plot wastes little time on things like character development and moves like a bullet from one sequence to the next. Pausing long enough to watch some of the more preposterous moments of the artists in residence, it is funny to see how today’s hipster-doofus crowd resembles the pretentious beatnik movement of the 1950s.
The film is well-written and smartly directed, but the staying power comes from the flawless performance of the legendary Dick Miller (Demon Knight) in the starring role of Walter. Walter is an anti-hero who does terrible things, but somehow audiences continue to root for him to get away with his crimes. He is often the victim of circumstance and by the time he begins making deliberate decisions for himself, he is wrapped too tightly in the warm embrace of acceptance to do anything other than continue down his tragic path. Miller has one of those faces that make him instantly likeable. He can be a tough guy or a loveable loser, but more often than not is the Everyman blue-collar guy that is the voice of reason.
The supporting cast is filled with additional Corman regulars, including Barboura Morris (The Wasp Woman) as Carla, the girl who has captured Walter’s heart. Antony Carbone (Creature from the Haunted Sea) is the ethically challenged café owner Leonard, a man more interested in making money than doing the right thing. Julian Burton (Masque of the Red Death) excels in the role of Maxwell H. Brock, the self-absorbed poet in residence. Despite a small amount of screen time, Judy Bamber (Dragstrip Girl) makes a lasting impression as mean girl Alice, who manages to be just nasty enough for audiences to cheer when she crosses Walter on her way to becoming a star in the art community.
Dick Miller is an amazing performer with an immediate charm that draws viewers’ attention, even in smaller roles. He frequently appears as a supporting player in movies made not only by Corman, but many of his protégés, including Allan Arkush (Rock ‘n Roll High School) and Joe Dante (Gremlins and The Howling). Miller stars in the terrific retrospective documentary That Guy Dick Miller (2014) and can still be found popping up at the occasional horror convention. If you get a chance, I highly encourage you to say hello, as the man is every bit as wonderful as you could hope.
Video and Audio:
Just like with their recent Blu-ray of The Bat, Film Detective continues to impress with a beautifully remastered HD transfer that is certain to please anyone who has suffered any of the countless murky releases of this title. The movie is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio with solid contrast and black levels and plenty of small-object detail. Dick Miller has never looked better!
The DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix does a fine job balancing dialogue with music and effects. This edition removes the audio pops and hiss that plagued previous releases, allowing characters to speak with renewed clarity.
Easy-to-read yellow English subtitles are provided for anyone in need.
There are no special features on this disc.