A frustrated and talentless artist finds acclaim for a plaster covered dead cat that is mistaken as a skillful statuette. Soon the desire for more praise leads to an increasingly deadly series of works.
Walter Paisley, a busboy at a cappuccino bar called the Jabberjaw, is praised as a genius after he kills his landlady's cat and covers it in plaster. Pressured to produce more work, he goes after bigger subjects.
Anthony Michael Hall,
An American patrol has to cross behind enemy lines by skis in order to blow up an important railroad bridge. The task is made harder by conflicts between the platoon's veteran sergeant and ... See full summary »
Walter Paisley, nerdy busboy at a Bohemian café, is jealous of the talent (and popularity) of its various artistic regulars. But after accidentally killing his landlady's cat and covering the body in plaster to hide the evidence, he is acclaimed as a brilliant sculptor - but his new-found friends want to see more of his work. Lacking any artistic talent whatsoever, Walter has to resort to similar methods to produce new work, and soon people start mysteriously disappearing... Written by
Michael Brooke <email@example.com>
Walter Paisley is a dim-witted busboy who works at a coffee shop that's populated by beatniks reciting their poetry, playing their jazzy music, throwing around their words of wisdom and praising each others' work. Walter really wants to be part of this crowd, but they don't take him seriously. So he goes home to make something out of clay, but his stopped because of the constant meowing from the landlady's cat that's stuck in the wall. Trying to get it out, he accidentally kills it, so he decides to cover with clay and take it to the coffee shop to show off his work. Everyone is impressed, but they want more. Which, Walter does deliver.
Now this is what you call an entertaining horror/comedy B-movie that delivers on what it promises. Thank you Roger Corman for such an humorlessly offbeat offering that has personality. 'A Bucket of Blood' is a drive-in quickie that mocks that of the art society in the late 50s to 60s with such blackly laced humour in a tongue-in-cheek approach. The spoof elements seem to fuse impeccably well with the amusing satirical attacks on the beatnik culture. It's hard not to grin at how pompous this lifestyle is with them finding masterpieces in the strangest things, then labelling the artist some sort of master who's got to continue his budding work. Also there's their intellectual lingo that supposedly has a deeper meaning to it all far out! You could say that this beatnik generation lives in their own little world, but their artistic shallowness definitely moulds itself into the picture.
Now you're probably wondering when does the horror come in. Well, the wry humour might be heavy, but the violence has a rather bitter and twisted feel as it becomes an obsession for Walter to knock off people to advance his social status in the art world and to please those artists who see big things in him. The deaths are executed rather well, actually. They do hold such a chilling and grisly sting, because the victims are obliviously to what's going to happen and we see the cold, obsessed transformation of Walter taking hold. Dick Millar nails down the part beautifully in depicting a character that might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but it's his unstable patterns that come to the forefront. Millar's performance was very memorable, but the rest of the cast were very good too with a nice mixture of animated characters ranging from the variety of zesty beatniks to Walter's interfering landlady. The cheap budget seems to do wonders on the dreary atmosphere. That of Walter's gloomy, but cosy apartment where he does the finishing touches (the nitty gritty stuff) to his work, which shows the true loneliness and why he wants to be accepted.
Surrounding the film is a hip and jazzy score that manages to spice up proceedings by gelling together with its artistic context. Director Corman manages to keep things moving at a reasonable pace with it flying by quick enough. He succeeds in making a fun satire that has whole range of surprising developments and he knows when to tighten the screws with some razor edge thrills, which makes way for a satisfyingly, ingenious outcome. No way is life imitating art here.
A delightfully dark and quirky premise with many memorable performances, but no more than Dick Millar. A very well done production all round by Corman and co.
Side-note: 'The Little Shop of Horrors' was made on the back of 'A bucket of blood' with basically most of the same cast and sets.
16 of 19 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?