Friday, 15 November 2013

A Bucket of Blood (1959)

The first of three comedy-horror collaborations between Roger Corman and Charles B. Griffith, A Bucket of Blood was filmed on sets that would be re-used in their second such collaboration: The Little Shop of Horrors.  The latter title has become much better known, though generally due to the stage play and movie musical that were adapted from it, rather than for Corman's own version.

A Bucket of Blood is a fun bit of dark satire. Socially awkward busboy Walter Paisley dreams of becoming a famous artist, winning the praise of the poets and poseurs in the beatnick cafe where he works. Only a crippling lack of talent is holding him back. But it's amazing how life-like a sculpture you can make when you're just slathering clay over a dead body ...

The script does a good job of making us feel sympathy for Paisley at first.  Actor Dick Miller does a good job of making his character likable, and Paisley's initial kills are accidental, or panic-inspired, respectively. You can almost forgive him for making the best of a bad situation.

As his 'art' wins praise, however, Paisley becomes more and more twisted: killing a woman who was rude to him, then a complete stranger. When he sets his homicidal sights on a woman who has (gently and politely) refused his advances, his fall from sympathy is complete. His fall from artistic acclaim is also rapid, as his macabre methods come to light.

Competently acted and written, this film is a cut above the low budget average, and worth a look if such darkly quirky films are your cup of tea.  Corman may be best known for his cut-price methods, but he did also have some skill as a filmmaker, which projects like this reveal.

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