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Horror Movie A Day: A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959)
Life is an obscure hobo, bumming a ride on the omnibus of art!

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [The regular A Movie A Day list has been frozen in order for me to do an all-horror line-up for October. I’ve pulled many horror titles from my regular “to see” stack and have ordered many more horror and thriller titles to make sure we have some good stuff. Like the regular AMAD column all the movies I’m covering are films I have never seen, but unlike the regular AMAD column I will not connect each film to the one before it. Instead I will pull a title at random every day and watch whatever the movie Gods determine for me.] As I stated at the end of yesterday’s HMAD (DEAD & BURIED) I’m a huge fan of Dick Miller. The man populated my childhood. CHOPPING MALL, TERMINATOR, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS, V, GREMLINS and all of Joe Dante’s movies. Into my teen years, when I started attending the Quentin Tarantino Film Festival every year and hitting the Alamo Drafthouse on a nearly religious basis, I started discovering his ‘70s exploitation work like CANNONBALL, TRUCK TURNER and BIG BAD MAMA. The man has a face that instantly brings a smile to my own. He’s comfort food, one of my Linus blankets. Miller has the chops, he has the talent and he has such a great voice/face combo… in short, he’s a real character, someone flawed, but instantly relatable. And if you haven’t seen his turn in ROCK ALL NIGHT, track it down. It’s another Roger Corman flick, pre-dating today’s movie by 2 years. Miller is front and center again in a one-location cheapie by the B-movie master. I’m trying to remember another film besides ROCK ALL NIGHT and today’s A BUCKET OF BLOOD where Miller got the opportunity to lead and I can’t come up with anything. Surely I’m wrong and he wasn’t only given two leading roles in his career, right? Maybe someone can help me out in the talkback below. Because seriously… the dude was born in the wrong era. In today’s age where leading men can be Seth Rogens and Paul Giamattis and Steve Buscemis Dick Miller would have been a star.

Take a look at this film. He plays a beaten down, put upon busboy at a Beatnik joint. He’s desperate for love, for friends and for meaning in his worthless life. He sees the poets, artists and musicians day in and day out, all seeming to have what most desires: popularity and respect. To the audience these people are fucking ridiculous, not to be looked up to or emulated in any way. Julian Burton plays the superstar Beatnik poet, a sandaled, bearded phoney named Maxwell, idolized by Miller’s Walter Paisley (a name, by the way, he used in many films including a great many of Joe Dante’s movies). Maxwell, to steal a South Park-ism, loves the smell of his own farts. The self-importance in this place is thicker than the cigarette smoke and it’s hard for me to see where the desire to be accepted by these people in Walter Paisley comes from. It’d be impossible for me to relate to the dude if someone else besides Dick Miller was playing him. I like Miller so I want to see him happy, which makes that leap possible for me. Also add on to the fact that the actors and Roger Corman (director as well as producer on this one) seem to be taking the piss out of these pompous douche-nozzles and it ain’t no big thing. Walter Paisley is a struggling artist, trying to find his reason, his motivation… and any tiny bit of talent at anything. He has a ton of modeling clay in his tiny, horrible dirty apartment, but can’t do anything with it. The boy just doesn’t have any talent. Then one night he hears his landlady’s cat mewling. It’s stuck in the wall. Being a nice guy, Paisley tries to get the cat out. Being a little bit of a dumb guy, he tries to get the cat out using a knife. The first plunge into the plaster kills the poor thing and when Paisley pulls it from the resulting hole it’s dead as a doornail… In fact, so dead it looks stuffed already (c’mon, it’s Roger Corman, what were you expecting?). He gets the idea to conceal this by making it his art. Now, yes… these statues he makes throughout the movie require talent to make and in no way look like they’re supposed to… They look like crazy sculptures, not dead bodies covered in wet clay. But goddamnit, they’re cool as hell.

As you can tell, I’m sure, he takes the dead clay cat to work and catches the eye of Carla (Barboura Morris) the girl he’s sweet on who talks the asshole owner of the bar Leonard (Antony Carbone) into letting him include it in their art show. Walter Paisley becomes the talk of the bar for his work, which he inventively calls “Dead Cat,” and suddenly he’s earning the respect and acceptance that he so sorely wanted. But the problem is he’s expected to come up with more, which, obviously, leads to some killings. First off is an undercover cop who sees some loopy broad pass Paisley some drugs, which he mistakes for Tylenol. The cop follows Paisley back home and is a dick, so Paisley cracks him one with his pancake skillet. He’s got a new statue, and probably my favorite of the ones showcased in the movie… It doesn’t really look like the dude, but it was a way for Corman to show something really graphic. The statue is bloodless, colorless, so the fact that its head is split open and brains are showing was perfectly acceptable to the censors, apparently.

Ultimately, Paisley spirals more and more out of control, addicted to his popularity and willing to do anything to keep it. The poor bastard ends up a little on the crazy side, but I still had trouble seeing him as a villain. In fact, there’s a chase at the end and I really was kind of hoping for Miller to get his victim. Is that wrong? The whole while the asshole bar owner, Leonard, realizes what Miller is up to, but is stopped from turning him in by his “art” selling at huge prices. But that makes him squeamish whenever he’s around the art or sees a new piece.

The DVD cover says the shooting on this film ended early and Corman used the sets and did a quickie shoot for a little, off-the-cuff film… LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. However, the release date on that one is 2 years later than A BUCKET OF BLOOD, so I don’t know how accurate that is. But the two movies are very similar in basic story. A down and out loser of a guy, working a dead-end job starts getting what he wants, acceptance, a girl, by killing people. His asshole boss profits off of it, but knows what’s going on. I wonder what it’d be like to watch those two films back to back… And I want to know who the fuck has the statues made for this movie. Why are there no reproductions available? I demand answers! These things are awesome. “Dead Cat,” “Murdered Man,” and the bust are f’n awesome. Interestingly enough, there was a remake of this film done in the mid-90s that I’ve never seen, but it starred Anthony Michael Hall in the Dick Miller role and featured Justine Bateman, David Cross, Paul Bartel and Will Ferrell! How bizarre! I’ll have to see if that versions available… I’m sure it can’t be as enjoyable as the original Roger Corman/Dick Miller version, but still… that’s gotta be a fascinating watch nonetheless, right? Final Thoughts: We end up with a flawed film… the budget shows through a lot, however Miller’s performance is so damn good you don’t care about some of the dodgy effects or the short 66 minute run time. Forgetting that the title of the movie is A BUCKET OF BLOOD and there’s really no bucket of blood in the movie (minus one short use of a bucket catching blood falling from one of the corpses), what we end up with is a supremely entertaining film that races from start to finish, without lagging. Dick Miller was a leading man, whether or not he got the roles in his career. No doubt.

Here are the titles in the drawing pool for the rest of October: Wednesday, October 1st – Friday, October 31st: H-MAD! Horror Movie A Day! Check out the list here! Now’s the the time to pull the next HMAD! Next up is:

Nice. I was hoping we’d get a real-deal giallo before the month ended. Speaking off, we’re in our last week of HMAD. I think starting Monday I’m going to take a little time at the end of each column leading up to Halloween to spotlight a second film, one of my personal favorite Halloween-time movies. It won’t be a double review, but a brief spotlight shined onto some of my favorites of the genre. See you folks tomorrow for THE BLOOD STAINED SHADOW! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher
October 21st: Audrey Rose
October 22nd: Who Slew Auntie Roo?
October 23rd: Wait Until Dark
October 24th: Dead & Buried

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