Sunday, May 12, 2024

Beatnik Break'd: A Bucket of Blood (1959)

A Bucket of Blood (1959)
Rating: ***1/2
Starring: Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Antony Carbone

A black-and-white mini cult classic produced and directed by Roger Corman, starring cult movie icon Dick Miller when he was just 31 years young. Need I say more?

Working as a busboy at the trendy art-house coffee shop The Yellow Room, Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) wants nothing more than be socially accepted by the Beatniks he serves and he desperately strives for this by trying his hands on being an artist. His sculpting skills are, sadly, terminally lacking, but a strike of inspiration hits him after accidentally stabbing his landlady's cat in an attempt to free it from a wall: by covering the corpse in plaster (knife still sticking out), he crafts his first masterpiece, subtly titled 'Dead Cat'. The shockingly grim piece is an instant hit of 'realism' within the cafe, granting Walter the praise he have been yearning for all this time, as well as a newfound niche of murdering people in secret and showcasing their plaster-encased bits and pieces as art. 

The more merits Walter receives, the more desperate he becomes to continue his work. Thus, the more he needs a stable supply of bodies...

A rather amusing and functional send up to Beatnik culture, A Bucket of Blood (1959) reflects the time director Roger Corman and regular writer Charles B. Griffith started taking their work less seriously by the end of the 50s, playing a macabre yet identifiably whacky sense of humor into this movie's direction as it satires art scene pretentiousness and the ridiculous lengths people would go just for a little bit of recognition and attention. Made within the budget of $50,000 and shot in only five days, it's all told and done in an economically-restrained production that relied heavily on the performances of its casts and less on convincing movie effects to bring out the comically dark from its simple yet ghastly plot. True enough, the kills here aren't as graphic or well-crafted as most modern horror film murder scenes are, but the title entertainingly makes up for it with the grotesque yet hammy implications of our demented wannabe-artist's lunacy, who Dick Miller played with genial timidness despite being unhinged, crafting his Walter Paisley character as a sympathetic simpleton with a mostly relatable need to belong.

Its approach rather lighthearted despite the gruesome subject, A Bucket of Blood (1959)'s sentiments lean closer on being fun and hammy with a good dose of shock and violence, making it horror in small parts and a black comedy at most. Clocking only an hour and five minutes, it's a near-perfect fright flick quickie at that barely overstays its welcome and packs enough of an imaginative melting pot of the appalling, the humorous and even the melancholic to keep a horror fan happy and entertained.

Horrific and funny, this is one cult classic that you shouldn't miss!

1 male had his head cracked open with a pan
1 female strangled to death with a scarf
1 male decapitated with a buzzsaw
1 male hanged
Total: 4

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