Charles B. Griffith
Dick Miller as Walter Paisley
Barboura Morris as Clara
Antony Carbone as Lionard de Santis
Julian Burton as Maxwell H. Brock
A Bucket of Blood surprised me by being a lot better than I expected. While searching for the original House on Haunted Hill, I stumbled across this little gem in the bargain bin at my local DVD store. I saw it starred Joe Dante regular Dick Miller, so thought I’d give it a go.
Bucket begins with poor unappreciated Walter Paisley (Miller), a bus-boy at a small bohemian café. He busses the tables of arrogant jerk artists while himself quietly dreaming of being an arrogant jerk artist. Sadly, it seems Walter lacks the talent and confidence to ever achieve this. Instead, he must endure the woefully pretentious poetry of resident beatnik Maxwell (Julian Burton), and the maddeningly repetitive strains of a guitarist singing a song that appears to be little more than one single, annoying, repeating chorus…”You murderer, go down!”
So Walter retires to his shabby little apartment presided over by a intrusive, nosy landlady, where he spends every night, alone and none too happy. The annoying landlady has lost her cat, but Walter doesn’t care. That is, until he hears it in his wall crawlspace and decides to do a good turn and get the poor trapped tabby out. Problem is, Walter isn’t the brightest of sparks, and he decides to approach this task with an ice pick. Without much ado he jams the pick into the wall and impales the lady’s unfortunate feline.
Walter has a light bulb moment here (one that would really only occur to someone slightly… unhinged), and decides to encase the poor little bugger in clay, ice pick and all, and pass it off as his sculpture to the beatnik crowd he so admires, and wants to be part of.
Lo and behold Walter’s art is a roaring success, but he soon learns that one piece is not enough to sate the appetites of these artsy wankers, they want more, more, more! So Walter essentially becomes a serial killer, building a frightening collection of pieces as he does away with his subjects in simple but horribly effective ways, and Walter even dons a black beret, so we the audience know, he’s made it.
Well, as all plans do, Walter’s is about to unravel. Not only does the owner of the café discover Walter’s “model” for the cat piece is still INSIDE the piece, but naive Walter is handed a present by a weirdo chick in the café that turns out to be heroin. Poor Walter…he just can’t seem to get a break. All he wanted was to be accepted.
At a quick and painless 66 minutes, A Bucket of Blood makes a great intro movie to any horror marathon. It pokes good natured fun at the whole “beatnik” culture of the 50’s, while delivering some surprisingly effective kills (love the skillet kill), and Dick Miller is a pleasure to watch in his (only?) lead role. He plays Walter with a naivete that is very believable, and a little disturbing, especially once the killings begin. Julian Burton’s Maxwell is also a pleasure, how he managed to recite that atrocious poetry without cracking a single grin is beyond me. Enjoy.