“A BUCKET OF BLOOD”— Horrific and Satirical



Horrific and Satirical

Amos Lassen

Roger Corman was a director who dared to go where others would not. “A Bucket of Blood” is horrific, satirical and layered with subtext about Corman’s own aspirations. Dick Miller stars as Walter Paisley, the ridiculed busboy at beatnik coffeehouse The Yellow Door, whose dream in life is to be an artist. Unfortunately he has no talent and spends his free time squeezing a lump of clay into even lumpier shapes. When he accidentally kills a cat, covers it with clay, entitles the work “Dead Cat”, he is acclaimed a genius by local Beats and this sends his ego out of control. He becomes obsessed with winning the woman of his dreams and moves onto larger pieces (like “Murdered Man”).

The movie is filled with pseudo-hip dialogue and excruciatingly poetry as it takes us back to a time that was. The Yellow Door club is the haunt for the most fashionable beatniks around but for Walter it’s just somewhere to work, as he has a job as a busboy there. He carries out menial tasks but he has ambitions of his own as his heart’s desire is to become a sculptor. Everyone around him denigrates his dreams and does not believe he will amount to anything more than cleaning up after the patrons of his boss, Leonard (Antony Carbone). Only Carla (Barboura Morris) encourages him, and he is grateful for that, but when he finally gets some clay home to his one-room apartment…

Walter was not exactly a simpleton, but he was easily led, and comes to believe what others say. Walter has a solution to his lack of talent that he accidentally realizes when he tries to free his pet cat from the wall of his apartment and stabs it to death by mistake. Suddenly inspired, he covers the corpse with clay, allows it to set, and brings it to the club as an artwork and is met with admiration at the piece’s perceived truth and skill (it has the knife still sticking out of it), and soon the crowd wants more. They get one with “Murdered Man”, a life study of a figure afflicted by a deep crack in its skull, which should give you an idea of what it actually is, an undercover cop Walter panicked and killed when he was accused of holding narcotics. Carla remains oblivious, as does everyone else except Leonard who sees the high prices the art is amassing and keeps quiet about it.

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