(1959) dir. Roger Corman
I can’t really recall exactly why I ended up pushing A Bucket of Blood to the top of my queue exactly. Roger Corman’s wacky horror/comedy, a beatnik version of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) in which great sculptural art turns out to be the clay-covered figures of the dead, the murdered. But it’s comedy almost first and foremost, taking the piss out of the coffee shops, the Beats, the stoners, the pretentious and the like. The funny part is that it’s pretty funny.
Really, it’s not unlike Jack Arnold’s High School Confidential! (1958), which featured a coffee shop drug dealer infiltrated by the cops. Perhaps Corman had seen that film not long before getting this one to produce. It’s low-budget, apparently shot in five days, and while the production values are lowish, it surprised me how good much of it really was. I’d seen this movie back in the 1980’s, I think, at a time I perhaps wouldn’t have appreciated it quite as much.
The cast has a number of notable faces. Corman always managed to find all kinds of characters to get their respective starts in his productions from actors, writers, directors, producers, Corman was the training ground for more than two decades worth of future Hollywood talent. And Corman’s films themselves, while often clearly goofy or Exploitation, are often actually more than just decent. Corman’s films are often pretty fun.
Shot in black-and-white, the film is not oozing with its titular blood, though there is a bucket at one point poised under a dripping corpse. It’s not gory by any sense of the word. It’s much more comedic and at times even sympathetic with the pathetic bus boy/hanger-on to the hipster Beatnik scene, scarfers of wheat germ bagels and all sorts of humorous asides. And the saxophone wailing…it’s not half-bad.
It’s fun goofball stuff. And though I’m inclined to add “trash”, it’s not “trash”. Whatever I mean by that.