A Bucket of Blood might not be the most well-known work of schlock trailblazer Roger “The Pope of Pop Cinema” Corman, but it most remains one of his most brilliant. Using his deprecatory ability to traverse across genres, he created – in this low budget B-movie shot in just 5 days – something preposterous, provocative, darkly funny, bitingly satirical, grisly, quirky, ironic and deliciously reflexive in its meta-narrative. Walter Paisley (Dick Miller in his 1st of 7 renditions of characters with this name) is a geeky, fidgety, neurotic busboy in a Village café populated by Beatniks and bohemians. He’s in thrall of the resident Beat poet (Julian Burton) and his freeform poetry; he’s infatuated with Carla (Barboura Morris) but is always receiving scorns and jibes from his boss (Antony Carbone); he lives alone in a run-down apartment; and he dreams of himself as a great artist despite his singular lack of talent. His fortunes change dramatically, however, when he accidentally kills a cat, and then, in a bizarre display of artistic expression, encases the corpse in clay. His “avant-garde” sculpture attracts immediate attention and admiration, and, with his ambition now stoked, he’s propelled into a ghastly journey of churning out one work of hideous ultra-realism after another, in a hilarious reimagining of the slasher film House of Wax. The fabulous turn by Miller, the striking B/W photography, deadpan humour and the mock-serious bring-down of highbrow pretentiousness, combined with Corman’s love for the macabre, made this a fascinating ‘black-comedy horror’ flick – a genre which he flaunted to have pioneered. Corman and writer Charles B. Griffith would reunite the following year, and would even reuse the same set, with The Little Shop of Horrors.
Director: Roger Corman
Genre: Horror/Black Comedy/Social Satire