A Bucket of Blood Poster

A Bucket of Blood (1959)

Comedy | Horror   
IMDB Rayting:   6.8/10
Country: USA
Language: English

A dim witted busboy finds acclaim as an artist for a plaster covered dead cat that is mistaken as a skillful statuette. The desire for more praise soon leads to an increasingly deadly series of works.

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BaronBl00d 24 November 2001

Purportedly made in five days, A Bucket of Blood is one of those films that just seems to grow on you after each viewing(beginning with the first!). Dick Miller plays his most substantial role in his long and varied career as a very stupid, amoral busboy for a beatnik cafe. His name is Walter Paisley and he wants to "fit" in with all the other cool cats at the cafe like the pompous Maxwell who recites poetry, the two clowns higher than kites that just take space and never order any coffee, the cafe owner Leonard that wears the trappings of being a beatnik but is more concerned about making a buck, the lovely artist Carla that wants to be surrounded by creative and artistic people, and a host of other beatnik types. Walter, by a set of bizarre and ridiculous circumstances, takes a cat he accidentally killed and covers it with clay. He brings it in to his "friends" and that laud him as a great and gifted artist. From there Walter works his way up to human sculptures. The story is filled with loads of black humour including a heavy dose of fun poked at the beatnik culture. Miller plays Paisley wonderfully with a certain innocence. All the acting is pretty good with a few stand-outs. Anthony Carbone as Leonard adds a lot of credibility to the film with his more realistic performance, and he has some of the best lines and facial expressions. Barboura Morris is beautiful and credible. But the top acting honors easily go to Julian Burton(where is this guy now?) as Maxwell. He is the poet that makes every word sound as if art were dripping from his tongue. He recites lines like, "Life is an obscure hobo bumming a free ride on the omnibus of art" and "ring rubber bells, clang cotton gongs, strike silken cymbols." He is wonderfully over-the-top in his whole portrayal and always makes me laugh with that garbage he utters. Director Roger Corman has little budget to work with here, but he makes a minor masterpiece with what he did have to work with. Walter Paisley is Born. And he lives on in video and dvd!

silentgpaleo 7 May 2000

In Roger Corman's autobiography, he credits himself to creating the sub-genre "black comedy". His version of "black comedy" featured gruesome elements, that were sometimes played for laughs. With BUCKET OF BLOOD and LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, he furthered this along, and although I'm not sure if he did indeed invent the "black comedy", he sure had a good run with it.

BUCKET OF BLOOD is near-perfect. Which is saying a lot when you think of some of Corman's films. BUCKET OF BLOOD stars Dick Miller in his only starring performance. He plays a struggling busboy/artist, whose only real desire in life is to impress the local beatnik girl (the talented Barboura Morris). Miller works at the same coffee house that Morris frequents. The place, run by Anthony Carbone, features poetry and art. There are also pretentious beatniks, drug dealers, and undercover detectives.

I don't want to give much else away, aside from that the film itself has a life of its own. The energy is high, the camera and editing work are effectively polished, and the dialogue is uniformly crisp. Corman's direction is fluid. Next to LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS and maybe a few of his Poe films, BUCKET OF BLOOD is his best film.

Dick Miller, has never received such a juicy part to play as this. He handles the jokes well, and his interplay with Carbone, and especially Ed Nelson, is great.

The sets are cheap, the conclusion is rushed, but BUCKET OF BLOOD made me giggle, and unlike some horror films, it is supposed to.

Infofreak 18 August 2001

Roger Corman will always be remembered for being the guy who made all those cheap and nasty exploitation movies in the 50s and 60s. What people DON'T remember is that many of them were actually very good! 'A Bucket Of Blood' is one of his best, possibly THE best.

'Bucket..' is a black comedy concerning bus boy and wanna be artist Walter Paisley (the immortal Dick Miller) who works in an arty coffee shop frequented by poets, painters, beatniks and druggies. By an odd series of circumstances, which I won't spoil for those that haven't watched this, he becomes "the next big thing". As his career takes off he becomes hip, cool and adulated by most. He does have one enemy who knows his secret and an undercover cop is sniffing around, so poor Walter better stay on his toes...

This movie is a lot of fun, still holds up well, and is an entertaining, well made (for its obvious low budget) satire on art, success, fame and death. Dick Miller has gone on to a long and varied career since the 50s, but no matter what he does he will ALWAYS be Walter Paisley!

Coventry 3 August 2005

Not including almost every entry in the terrific Edgar Allen Poe cycle he did, "A Bucket of Blood" unquestionable is Roger Corman's best and most entertaining film. And – coincidentally or not – this movie also contains many references towards Poe (a walled-up cat!!), so maybe Corman simply needs the legendary horror author's oeuvre in order to deliver great movies? "A Bucket of Blood" is a truly slick and ingenious little quickie that terrifically blends the classic terror premise of "Mystery of the Wax Museum" with the typical psychotronic-humor that Corman largely invented himself. Corman regular Dick Miller (terribly underrated throughout his whole career) gives away a near-perfect performance as Walter Praisley, a clumsy waiter and wannabe artist whose biggest wish to get as famous as the talkative stars he serves coffee to every day. His dream accelerates rapidly and unexpectedly when he covers his landlady's dead cat in clay and people proclaim it an art-masterpiece. Walter naturally enjoys his easily earned artist-status but he also realizes that he'll have to move on to bigger (read: bloodier) projects if he wants to stay in the picture. Dick Miller's exhilarating acting together with Charles Griffith's wit scripting skills, makes this a very fun production that every cult-film fan will enjoy watching. Although chuckles clearly have the upper hand in "A Bucket of Blood", Corman doesn't ignore the horror entirely and some of the death-sequences are definitely more chilling than the ones featuring in other contemporary and "serious" horror movies.

jay4stein79-1 28 October 2004

For years, I've been trying to convince myself that renting A Bucket of Blood (1959) wouldn't be a waste of money. On the one hand, it's a Roger Corman picture; on the other hand, it's a Roger Corman picture. He did some great work - Rock n Roll High School, Little Shop of Horrors, some of his Poe adaptations, etc.

But he also directed the Terror which, well, I wasn't too fond of.

In any event, I discovered a fifty cent copy of the Bucket of Blood DVD at the local Target and, well, it was hard to pass up. You can't get a candy bar for fifty cents these days, let alone a DVD, so I didn't have much of a choice.

It was a wise investment. A Bucket of Blood, though not nearly as fun as those aforementioned Corman classics, has plenty of wonderful set-pieces, some hysterical dialogue, and a terrific performance by Dick Miller (B-movie actor best known as Mr.

Futterman (sp?) from Gremlins and the owner of a bookstore specializing in paranormal literature in The Howling).

Like most other Corman pictures, this one is more humorous than horrific. Of course, that's what makes them fun. Not to give too much away, the story follows Dick Miller as Walter Paisley, lowly busboy at a Beatnik Coffee Shop, who discovers through an interesting encounter with Frankie the Cat his inner artistic genius.

I'd really like to tell you more about Frankie the Cat because, well, it's the most absurdly funny thing I've seen in a long time. That would ruin the surprise though. Instead, I'll tell you about the naked lightbulb hanging from the ceiling in Dick Miller's apartment. For some reason, when knocked off-kilter this lightbulb, dangling from a cord as lightbulbs in dive apartments are wont to do, moves back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, creating a nice, eerie effect as the shadows jump around. Yet, and maybe this was because I had been drinking before I sat down to watch the movie, the lightbulb, in the scene involving Frankie the Cat never seems to stop its pendulum-like performance. The violent oscillation never seems to diminish. I feel as though that's defying several laws of physics, but I could be wrong. Anyway, it was a nice touch and I found it entertaining.


InzyWimzy 6 September 2004

Roger Corman has a gem here. First, I really dig that Beatnik scene man: groovy! We start off at the cafe with the sax wailing and Maxwell shooting the audience with words of wisdom. It's a great opener to our story. Dick Miller is great as Walter Paisley (great name play there!) who makes you root for our down trodden busboy. Plus, who knew landladys were so controlling back then? Sheesh, a guy can't even bring a dame over! Add great support especially from Julian Burton who's Mr. Brock (please call me Maxwell) really lives it up as the ultimate beat poet and has a terrific time doing it! He kind of reminds me of a Beatnikesque Oliver Reed. Leonard De Santis provides laughs as the stuck up cafe owner who learns to stop belittling Walter if he knows what's good for him. Even Bruno VeSota is an art aficionado. My favorite scene has to be when Walter turns 180 and visits the cafe (love that beret!). Or maybe it's Walter as the triumphant king! All in all, Bucket of Blood is a whole lot of fun.

The_Void 26 December 2004

This delicious black comedy is one of the films that Roger Corman used to make before he got a bigger budget and went on to do fantastic adaptations of Edgar Allen Poe stores, starting with 'The Fall of the House of Usher', the year after this was made. A Bucket of Blood stars Dick Miller, whom you may know as 'that guy from Gremlins', which Dante almost certainly cast him in due to his affiliation with Corman, as he plays a character named Walter Paisley in both The Howling and A Bucket of Blood. Anyway, in this film he has been cast a busboy for a public house, who is also an aspiring artist. However, Walter lacks creativity and is looking for an idea when he inadvertently kills his landlady's cat, which he then proceeds to cover in plaster and present as a piece of art. The art world is filled with weirdo's, and because of that, this sculpture becomes an instant hit and Walter is now very much 'in'. One masterpiece isn't enough, however, and Walter must add more to his collection to gain the fame he wants...but where is that next masterpiece going to come from?

Aside from being a cheap black comedic exploitation thriller, A Bucket of Blood is also a commentary on the art world. Anything can pass for a masterpiece when it comes to being 'creative' (shown by that strange woman with a bed in real life), and a dead cat certainly fits that bill. The film also comments on the fact that one masterpiece isn't enough for an 'artist' to cement themselves in the annals of history and thus they need several. Dick Miller's portrayal of the aspiring artist at the centre of the tale isn't award worthy, but he does a very good job. The character is naive, with an air of pathos, spanning from a need to be accepted, and Dick Miller captures this essence so well that you cant imagine anyone else in the role. I really enjoy seeing Miller on screen and it's a shame he didn't get more roles as he has a lot of potential for playing characters of this sort.

This film is an obvious predecessor to many other indie themed exploitation thrillers, such as The Driller Killer and is important for that reason. The jazz styling makes a nice atmosphere for the movie and it helps to capture the pseudo-cool jazz trend that is often associated with art in the late 50's and early 60's. And, aside from everything I've said so far; this film is just really good. It's a lot of fun and many of things shown on screen are really funny. There's also some lovely death sequences including, most notably, someone being cut in half with a buzz saw. Naturally (considering this was made in 1959), we don't get to see the death, but it still happens and it's not Corman's fault he couldn't show it. This film is a damn good time and it's a shame that it hasn't gained itself a more established following the forty-five years since it's release. Recommended viewing.

gidget1999 23 August 2002

Daddy O, this is with out a doubt the coolest horror film with beatniks that has ever been produced, one viewing and you'll be pulling your bongos outa the closet and throwing paint at the wall. Beatniks, coffee, art, murder and a Paul Horn soundtrack, It's Crazy Man.

lost-in-limbo 31 March 2006

Walter Paisley is a dim-witted busboy who works at a coffee shop that's populated by beatniks reciting their poetry, playing their jazzy music, throwing around their words of wisdom and praising each others' work. Walter really wants to be part of this crowd, but they don't take him seriously. So he goes home to make something out of clay, but his stopped because of the constant meowing from the landlady's cat that's stuck in the wall. Trying to get it out, he accidentally kills it, so he decides to cover with clay and take it to the coffee shop to show off his work. Everyone is impressed, but they want more. Which, Walter does deliver.

Now this is what you call an entertaining horror/comedy B-movie that delivers on what it promises. Thank you Roger Corman for such an humorlessly offbeat offering that has personality. 'A Bucket of Blood' is a drive-in quickie that mocks that of the art society in the late 50s to 60s with such blackly laced humour in a tongue-in-cheek approach. The spoof elements seem to fuse impeccably well with the amusing satirical attacks on the beatnik culture. It's hard not to grin at how pompous this lifestyle is with them finding masterpieces in the strangest things, then labelling the artist some sort of master who's got to continue his budding work. Also there's their intellectual lingo that supposedly has a deeper meaning to it all… far out! You could say that this beatnik generation lives in their own little world, but their artistic shallowness definitely moulds itself into the picture.

Now you're probably wondering when does the horror come in. Well, the wry humour might be heavy, but the violence has a rather bitter and twisted feel as it becomes an obsession for Walter to knock off people to advance his social status in the art world and to please those artists who see big things in him. The deaths are executed rather well, actually. They do hold such a chilling and grisly sting, because the victims are obliviously to what's going to happen and we see the cold, obsessed transformation of Walter taking hold. Dick Millar nails down the part beautifully in depicting a character that might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but it's his unstable patterns that come to the forefront. Millar's performance was very memorable, but the rest of the cast were very good too with a nice mixture of animated characters ranging from the variety of zesty beatniks to Walter's interfering landlady. The cheap budget seems to do wonders on the dreary atmosphere. That of Walter's gloomy, but cosy apartment where he does the finishing touches (the nitty gritty stuff) to his work, which shows the true loneliness and why he wants to be accepted.

Surrounding the film is a hip and jazzy score that manages to spice up proceedings by gelling together with its artistic context. Director Corman manages to keep things moving at a reasonable pace with it flying by quick enough. He succeeds in making a fun satire that has whole range of surprising developments and he knows when to tighten the screws with some razor edge thrills, which makes way for a satisfyingly, ingenious outcome. No way is life imitating art here.

A delightfully dark and quirky premise with many memorable performances, but no more than Dick Millar. A very well done production all round by Corman and co.

Side-note: 'The Little Shop of Horrors' was made on the back of 'A bucket of blood' with basically most of the same cast and sets.

bensonmum2 27 March 2006

A Bucket of Blood is a nice little Corman horror film. It plays better than many of his other non-Poe, non-Price films. It's the story of a "backwards" busboy in a beatnik dive trying to fit in by becoming an artist. His creations are the talk of the joint. But just how is the seemingly talentless busboy able to create such realistic images of death?

Dick Miller plays the busboy in one of the few feature roles I remember seeing him in. The mix of emotions he imbibes into his character is a highlight of the film. At one moment he's confused, the next a raving lunatic. Corman kept the screenplay simple and it works. I've seen too many low budget directors try to creative effects, etc. that their budgets just do not allow. Corman doesn't do this. This one is definitely recommended to fans of the 50s quickie horror films.

blackpope 17 August 2004

If anyone is fed up with the pretentious nitwits that dictate what is good art, chances are you'll enjoy this classic campy tale. The protagonist is a weakling who works as a waiter at a beatnik coffee shop and hangs around psuedo artist snobs, sucking up their every last syllable as if it is a mocha frapuccino. He wants very much to carve a niche for himself in this group of losers and manages to do so when he makes a sculpture out of his landlady's dead cat! True to herd mentality, everyone is soon basking in this guy's coolness, singing his praises, and generally kissing his talentless behind. Only problem is, he keeps making sculptures from bodies! By the time these Bohemians catch on to the fact that this guy may not be so hip after all, the death toll has risen and laughter is abound. Also make sure to look out for the fat bearded character Maxwell, this guy is a total riot. The sad thing is every time I go to an open mike I meet some "poet" who is just like him. Great sardonic humor from the master of the macabre Roger Corman. 8/10

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