• Bucket Of Blood, A

    Released by: The Film Detective
    Released on: October 20th, 2015.
    Director: Roger Corman
    Cast: Dick Miller, Antony Carbone, Barbara Mouris
    Year: 1959
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    The Movie:

    In Roger Corman’s 1959 film A Bucket Of Blood, we meet a busboy named Walter Paisley (Dick Miller) who toils away at his crummy job at a beatnik coffeehouse owned by the crotchety Leonard (Antony Carbone). Here Walter swoons over on of their regular customers, Carla (Barbara Mouris). Walter wants more out of life – he wants to be a great artist, he wants to be able to win the girl and he wants to be the popular guy, but he makes a lousy living and lives alone in a cruddy little apartment.

    One night, his landlord’s cat gets stuck between the walls of his apartment and Walter’s. With the best of intentions, Walter pulls out a knife and tries to cut the kitty out but he winds up stabbing the cat and it dies. It’s then that Walter sees an opportunity – he covers the cat’s corpse in the modelling clay he had been toying with and then brings it to the coffeehouse where it’s instantly appreciated as a great work of art! Soon enough, a prestigious art collector has made Walter an offer for the piece and everyone in the scene is asking to see more of his work. It’s not long before Walter starts working on bigger and more impressive sculptures, but to do that he’s going to need to do more than just accidentally kill a cat… Walter will have to resort to the ultimate sin.

    At this point in his career Corman wanted to do something different and with A Bucket Of Blood, he did just that. This is as much a dark comedy as it is a horror movie, if not more so, and the film’s gallows humor mixes quite flawlessly with its murder set pieces and odd twists. Corman, shooting in black and white, keeps the film going at a good pace and offers humor and horror in pretty equal doses. He’s also savvy enough to not overshoot and keep the modest production well within the confines of its low budget. The sets are minimalist but completely effective and as the story doesn’t call for scores of makeup effects or particularly elaborate murder set pieces, everything fits quite well.

    At the center of all of this is Dick Miller, in a role that he’d carry with him throughout his life (he’s played characters named Walter Paisley quite a few times since he made this film). It’s not often that Miller, one of Hollywood’s finest character actors, gets to play the lead but here he takes it and he runs with it. He’s fantastic in the part, his odd facial features lending themselves well to the quirky character he plays and making the darker second half of the film a fair bit more intense for it. The supporting players all do fine work here as well, with Carbone putting in a memorable turn as the grouchy coffeehouse owner and the lovely Barbara Mouris quite fetching as the apple of Walter’s eye, but really, this is Miller’s show through and through.


    A Bucket Of Blood arrives on Blu-ray (well, technically a BD-R) from The Film Detective in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen and it looks quite nice. Transferred from an archival 35mm print the image is free of noise reduction and edge enhancement and while it isn’t exactly spotless, print damage is never a serious problem, in fact it’s actually fairly unobtrusive. Detail and depth are solid throughout and contrast looks good and we get some frequently impressive texture as well. Contrast does bloom occasionally but that’s an exception and not a rule. Black levels are decent and contrast is fine – this looks very nice.

    The only audio option for the feature is a DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track, with optional subtitles provided, also in English only. Clarity and balance are pretty solid here and there aren’t any major levels spikes in the mix, nor are there any problems with any hiss or distortion. The score in particular has pretty nice range here.

    Aside from static menus and chapter selection there are no extras features on this Blu-ray.

    The Final Word:

    A Bucket Of Blood is not only a rare horror comedy done right, but it’s one of Dick Miller’s finest moments in front of the camera. Corman directs the picture with a quick pace and some nice style while Miller makes the most of this leading role, stealing every scene he’s in and delivering an iconic performance. The Blu-ray release from The Film Detective might be light on extras but it looks and sounds quite a bit better than any other version out there (at least that this reviewer has seen).

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!