Blu-ray Review: A Bucket of Blood (1959): Olive Signature Edition

September 21, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) is a lowly busboy at a beatnik haven called The Yellow Door Cafe…the type of place that’s just lousy with sax solos, poetry, and artists (oh, and berets). Now our hero wants nothing more than to be just like the hep cats what populate that establishment mentioned up yonder, but his skill set is akin to that of  an armless chimp rolling in Play-doh. But, as fate would have it after an incident involving a steak knife, a plaster wall, and a now ex-cat, ol’ Walter discovers he can create a celebrated work of art by simply slapping some clay over that dead feline.

You can just guess what happens next; more accidents lead to more “sculptures” and even more accolades…but also rouses the suspicions of undercover detectives casing The Yellow Door (not to mention the Cafe’s owner who stumbles on Walter’s secret but balances his horror with the growing financial gain the morbid work generates).

A Bucket of Blood is a horror comedy played to perfection. Under the steady hand of low budget legend Roger Corman (directing from a script by Charles B. Griffith), this quirky, off-kilter, skid row production shines, thanks mostly to leading man Miller (who has appeared as a character actor in beloved fright flicks such as Gremlins, The Howling, and The Terminator to name a very, very few) who infuses Paisley with equal parts simpleminded lovable charm and sweaty desperation…it’s a wonderfully disparate performance and never fails to entertain throughout the feature’s scant hour and five minute run time.

As for extras, you get: interviews with Corman, the late Dick Miller, and screenwriter Charles B. Griffith (an archival audio conversation), an info-packed audio commentary courtesy of Miller documentarian Elijah Drenner, a visual essay comparing the differences between script and finished film, a text essay about the film courtesy of author Caelum Vatnsdal, a prologue sequence from the German release of the film, the super-8 condensed version of the film (love these as it brings back so many memories of watching super-8 versions of fright flicks with my father), two theatrical trailers (German and domestic), and a still gallery.

A Bucket of Blood is quite rightly regarded as a horror classic (not to mention providing the name for multiple Miller essayed characters over the years)…it’s full of murder, memorable characters, laughs, and a strange undercurrent of the bizarre…and certainly deserves a place in any horror hounds fright flick collection!

 

 

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