Until the unfortunate deus ex machina finish, A Bucket of Blood is a small wonder. Even with the finish, the film manages to succeed; the performances are just too strong.
Dick Miller plays a simple, well-meaning bus boy–who also takes drink orders, apparently for no tips–at an art café. The beatnik patrons condescend to him, his boss is a jerk, the only one nice to him is his female coworker.
Every performance–boss, beatnik, girl–is fantastic. Miller’s great in the lead too, with Corman and writer Charles B. Griffith giving him the time to show how his character becomes a spree killer. It’s okay because he’s turning the bodies into art, after all. While Griffith and Corman have a lot of fun at the beatnik culture’s expense, they don’t shortchange Miller. His transformation is serious… even when the results are funny.
As the girl, Barboura Morris doesn’t get a lot to do until the end but then Griffith and Corman give her one amazing scene. It probably only lasts a couple minutes, but it seems so much longer thanks to Morris. One can just watch the thoughts on her face, in her measured reactions.
Antony Carbone is good as Miller’s boss, who sort of understands his responsibility in the situation. Julian Burton is awesome as the intellectual beatnik who takes Miller under his wing. John Brinkley and John Herman Shaner are hilarious as the stoned beatniks who offer uninvited commentary.
Blood is an excellent little picture.
Produced and directed by Roger Corman; written by Charles B. Griffith; director of photography, Jacques R. Marquette; edited by Anthony Carras; music by Fred Katz; released by American International Pictures.
Starring Dick Miller (Walter Paisley), Barboura Morris (Carla), Antony Carbone (Leonard de Santis), Julian Burton (Maxwell H. Brock), Ed Nelson (Art Lacroix), John Brinkley (Will), John Herman Shaner (Oscar), Judy Bamber (Alice), Myrtle Vail (Mrs. Swickert), Bert Convy (Lou Raby), Jhean Burton (Naolia), Bruno VeSota (Art Collector) and Lynn Storey (Sylvia).