Blu-ray Review: A BUCKET OF BLOOD (Olive Signature Collection)

BUCKET OF BLOOD was directed by Roger Corman from a screenplay by Charles B. Griffith and stars Dick Miller as Walter, a busboy at the hep-cat hangout the Yellow Door Café who dreams of artistic greatness. Rounding out the cast are Barboura Morris as Carla, the woman of Walter’s dreams; Bert Convy as undercover cop Lou Raby; Antony Carbone as Leonard, owner of the Yellow Door; and Julian Burton as Maxwell, the Yellow Door’s resident poet-philosopher. The score is by Fred Katz.

With A Bucket of Blood, the multi-talented Roger Corman singlehandedly created his own genre hyphenate: the black-comedy-beatnik-culture-horror film. Dick Miller stars as Walter, a busboy at the hep-cat hangout the Yellow Door Café who dreams of artistic greatness. Inspired by the scribes and artists who surround him, Walter is introduced to the world of sculpture quite literally by accident – thanks to thin walls and a sharp steak knife. From his very first piece – the aptly titled “Dead Cat” – Walter is hailed a genius by the art snob set, a wunderkind who, unbeknownst to his doting devotees, has raised murder to the level of high art. But when the tortured artist turns his creativity towards the human form, he’s sure to make their blood run cold.

Possible spoilers ahead! This 1959 horror-comedy follows Walter Paisley (Dick Miller), a mistreated waiter who works in a smoky diner that’s occupied by a long list of unlikable characters who abuse the poor guy on a daily basis. There is Carla (Barboura Morris) who Walter has a crush because she showed him some rare kindness. The thing about Walter is that he has a hidden talent that’s finally revealed but this is where things slowly begin to spiral out of control for the quiet artist.

Walter receives some much needed recognition and appreciation for his sculptures and loves the praise he’s getting so he enlists some of these horrible people to help him with each masterpiece. The thing is, Walter kills these unsuspecting people and turns them into his latest creepy masterpieces and nobody has a clue. Walter takes things too far and is finally exposed as the monster who’s killing off these people and turning them into his sculptures. Before justice can be served, Walter turns himself into his latest work of art by hanging himself.

The packaging comes in a nice slipcase. The front features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. There’s a booklet inside that includes some liner notes about the movie and more images. This release comes in a clear keepcase that helps it stand out some from the regular blue keepcases that most Blu-ray releases get. Olive Films gave this 1959 black & white horror-comedy a stunning new 4K scan. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition upgrade were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, A Bucket of Blood ended up being another first time watch for me and I had a blast watching this American-International cult classic that’s celebrating its 60th anniversary. The story (that deals with alienating and bullying) about this simple man who sort of loses himself in his art was really interesting. At first, this man thought he was doing something good once he was getting some recognition and appreciation for his sculptures, but once he’s exposed, the artist was labeled as a monster. The poor guy started off as a victim who slowly turned into a villain. Thankfully, things never get too scary as the killer creates his masterpieces with a little help from his victims because there’s a nice amount of dark humor to go along with the mayhem. The movie was shot in just five days on a shoestring budget of $50,000 and remains one of the most iconic collaborations between Roger Corman and Dick Miller. A Bucket of Blood is a fun horror-comedy that plays like a classic episode of The Twilight Zone and will be available on September 24th. A Bucket of Blood is the latest classic to join the Olive Signature Collection and is limited to 5,000 Blu-ray units.

Distributor: Olive Films

Run Time: 66 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1) B&W

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono

Subtitles: English

Special Features:

  • “Creation Is. All Else is Not” – Roger Corman on A Bucket of Blood (07:51)
  • “Call Me Paisley” – Dick and Lainie Miller on A Bucket of Blood (11:55)
  • Audio commentary by Elijah Drenner, director of That Guy Dick Miller
  • Archival audio interview with screenwriter Charles B. Griffith (20:09)
  • “Bits of Bucket” – Visual essay comparing the original script to the finished film (07:14)
  • Essay by Caelum Vatnsdal, author of You Don’t Know Me, But You Love Me: The Lives of Dick Miller (09:12)
  • Rare prologue from German release (09:48)
  • Super 8 “digest” version (08:18)
  • Theatrical trailer (01:46)
  • German theatrical trailer (02:20)
  • Gallery of newly-discovered on-set photography (05:02)
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