Plot: Walter (Dick Miller) is a busboy at a hip coffeehouse populated by local artists and art patrons, but he dreams of being on the other side of the art world. He loves to soak in all the art that comes into the coffeehouse and he tries to get to know the artists, but most have no interest in that. While Walter thinks the world of the artists, most see him as a common, tedious person, just because he is a laborer, not an artist. One night, Walter is trying to force some clay into a sculpture of some kind, when his neighbor’s cat wails while stuck inside the wall. In the process of cutting a hole in the wall, Walter stabs the cat by accident and kills the poor feline. Inspiration and self preservation soon kick in, which leads to Walter covering the cat’s corpse in clay and when he shows it to the art crowd, they flip over his creation. But as he is driven to create and more, Walter loves the adoration and knows he must keep topping himself, so he turns to larger prey and more violent means…
Entertainment Value: A simple, but perhaps brilliant blend of horror and comedy, A Bucket of Blood is one of Roger Corman’s best movies and one of the few lead roles for the great Dick Miller. The movie skewers the art world and those who inhabit it, in a ruthless fashion that is tempered by absurd moments and a dark, but hilarious sense of humor. The production values are cheap, the entire movie feels basic in scope, but it works and to me, that sense of simplicity just lets the story and characters shine, which is why it works so well. The narrative is simple, with Walter’s desire to be popular and revered run out of control, but the entire atmosphere of the coffeehouse is also a big part of that narrative. The characters within the coffeehouse are also quite simple, but given just enough presence to resonate, which makes the relentless satire all the more potent, since they’re believable figures. Dick Miller’s fantastic turn as the hapless Walter drives the movie however and to me, makes me wish he was given more chances to step in prominent roles. A lean, tight, and well executed horror/comedy, A Bucket of Blood is a classic and highly recommended.
No nakedness. This one keeps it clean and proper, but some mild flirtations and even a kiss, but things go no further. I mean, Walter tries, but he gets shut down, even at the apex of his artistic fame. Despite the title, this movie not only lacks an entire bucket of blood, but no real bloodshed whatsoever. There’s some violence, but it is mostly played for comic ends and is never graphic in the least. So given the comedic tone involved and satiric nature of the material, the lack of bloodshed is never a concern. The dialogue is sharp and often hilarious, taking aim on the pretentious art crowd with great vigor and that leads to some terrific lines. Walter’s attempts to fit in, even as he rises in esteem, are awkward and humorous, from his simple titles and his jumbled efforts to come off like what he thinks is a real artist. There’s some absurd moments and a lot of blowhard, hypocritical talk from the artists and patrons, so while the movie runs just over an hour, it packs it a lot of fun dialogue. As for craziness, this one is more silly and absurd than insane, but it does have some wackiness. Walter’s oddball ascension and the dark humor kick in a couple of points, at least.
Overall Insanity: 3/10