‘Inside every artist lurks… a madman!’
A Bucket of Blood is a 1959 American comedy horror film directed by Roger Corman from a screenplay written by Charles B. Griffith. The movie stars Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Antony Carbone and Julian Burton.
Produced on a $50,000 budget for American International Pictures, the movie was shot in just five days and shares many of the low-budget filmmaking aesthetics commonly associated with Corman’s work.
A Bucket of Blood was the first of three collaborations between Corman and Griffith in the comedy genre, followed by The Little Shop of Horrors, which was shot on the same redressed sets, and Creature from the Haunted Sea.
Herschell Gordon Lewis’ Color Me Blood Red (1964) reworks many of the same themes, plus Beach Party elements.
In Evil Toons (1992), Dick Miller watches himself on TV in a scene from A Bucket of Blood.
In 1995, Corman executive produced a remake of A Bucket of Blood, with Anthony Michael Hall taking on the role of Walter Paisley, for cable TV.
One night, after hearing the words of Maxwell H. Brock (Julian Burton), a poet who performs at The Yellow Door cafe, socially awkward busboy Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) returns home to attempt to create a sculpture of the face of the hostess Carla (Barboura Morris).
Walter stops when he hears the meowing of Frankie, the cat owned by his inquisitive landlady, Mrs Surchart (Myrtle Vail), who has somehow gotten himself stuck in Walter’s wall. Walter attempts to get Frankie out using a knife but accidentally kills the cat. Instead of giving Frankie a proper burial, Walter covers the cat in clay, leaving the knife stuck in it.
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The next morning, Walter shows the cat to Carla and his boss Leonard (Antony Carbone). Leonard dismisses the oddly morbid piece, but Carla is enthusiastic about the work and convinces Leonard to display it in the café. Walter receives praise from the beatnik (John Brinkley) and poets in the café and is approached by an adoring fan, Naolia (Jhean Burton), who gives him a vial of heroin to remember her by.
Naively ignorant of its function, he takes it home and is followed by Lou Raby (Bert Convy), an undercover cop, who attempts to take him into custody for narcotics possession. In a blind panic, thinking Lou is about to shoot him, Walter hits him with the frying pan he is holding, killing Lou instantly…
“That this rather unflattering portrait of an insular and self-impressed art scene should ring so true today across a gulf of four decades and at least as many cycles of youth-culture reinvention shows just how much attention Corman and Griffith paid on their scouting missions.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“Nary a dull moment among its lightning-fast pacing, A Bucket of Blood works remarkably well 60 years later. The concept remains timely, as both the social commentary and dark satirization of the counterculture art scene still play […] you could swap out beatniks for today’s hipsters to make a contemporary, subversive slasher-comedy of errors in the vein of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.” Broke Horror Fan
” …works well not only as a horror film with black comedy tossed in, but as a satirical time capsule piece centered around the beatnik culture of the era (even Allen Ginsberg is lampooned by actor Julian Burton, Masque of the Red Death). Most of the humor is relegated to the beginning of the film, as there’s more of a macabre feel to the proceedings once Walter starts murdering…” DVD Drive-In
“It’s not often that shrewd commentary on postmodern art and messy murders come together in a film, and one wouldn’t expect them to do so as assuredly as this. The success of the film comes down to a perfect balance between the talents contributing to it…” Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“A Bucket of Blood is only an hour-ish long and just flies by; it has a jazzy soundtrack that fits perfectly, crazy beatnik poetry, outrageous characters, tons of laughs and a touch of grim that makes it the perfect re-watchable horror-comedy classic! Highest of Recommendations!” Goregirl’s Dungeon
” …the beats were skewered in A Bucket of Blood better than many observers – from the outside – ever managed, identifying a vicious snobbery in the In Crowd that was not regularly brought into the spotlight for a caustic exposure. It wasn’t a case of the squares defending themselves against the attacks of the self-appointed cool, it was keener than that.” The Spinning Image
“Miller, who manages to sustain a sense of poignancy while committing his atrocities, gives an excellent performance in this funny film with a good comical jazz score by Fred Katz.” TV Guide
“Dick Miller in particularly appealing as the sub-intellectual nebbish in search of recognition and love: he even manages to retain the sympathy of the viewer for most of the movie, and even after he’s gone over the deep end one still sort of feels sorry for him once the movie ends. The pretentious beatniks and culture vultures, in turn, are one and all a fun persiflage of types still recognizable today…” A Wasted Life
A Bucket of Blood was released on Blu-ray by Olive Films, from an all-new 4K remaster, on September 24, 2019. Bonus features:
“Creation Is. All Else is Not” – Roger Corman on A Bucket of Blood
“Call Me Paisley” – Dick and Lainie Miller on A Bucket of Blood
Audio commentary by Elijah Drenner, director of That Guy Dick Miller
Archival audio interview with screenwriter Charles B. Griffith
“Bits of Bucket” – Visual essay comparing the original script to the finished film
Essay by Caelum Vatnsdal, author of You Don’t Know Me, But You Love Me: The Lives of Dick Miller
Rare prologue from the German release
Super 8 “digest” version
German theatrical trailer
Gallery of newly-discovered on-set photography
Optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature
Los Angeles, California
1 hour 6 minutes
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1
Sound: mono (Ryder Sound Services)
Full film – free to watch online: