Because of their chintzy budgets and on-the-fly productions, early Roger Corman efforts like Attack of the Crab Monsters came off more like parodies than the director probably intended them to be. With A Bucket of Blood, Corman and screenwriter Charles B. Griffith embraced the goofiness and transformed what could have been a serious low-budget horror about an artist who incorporates corpses into his work into the first great Corman/Griffith horror comedy. With the wonderfully sympathetic Dick Miller as Walter Paisley, a nebbish who aspires to be as much of an “artist” as the pretentious beatniks who frequent the coffee bar where he waits tables, A Bucket of Blood isn’t as outrageous as The Little Shop of Horrors, the film in which the Corman/Griffith magic fully blossomed (a-hem), but it is amusing and sometimes fairly horrifying. Its plot could have been ripped right from the pages of The Vault of Horror (in fact, it shares quite a few similarities to “Easel Kill Ya” from The Vault), and its cartoonish approach to dialogue, characterization, and design also has the feel of a live-action E.C. comic without the color.
The Film Detective’s new blu-ray presents that comic aesthetic quite well. Like so many of Corman’s early films, A Bucket of Blood is in the public domain and has been subjected to a lot of lousy home video releases. The Film Detective should be commended for going to the original 35mm source, especially in light of all the ninth-generation crap out there. Appearances of tiny white specks are fairly regular, but they aren’t especially intrusive and there are no major scratches to speak of. No edge enhancement has been applied to sharpen the naturally soft look. The film looks its best when there are strong blacks on screen to contrast the more washed-out whites. The mono audio is clear, which is especially complimentary to the cool jazz score, though there is a constant buzzing undercurrent noticeable during the music-less passages. There are no bonuses, but considering that A Bucket of Blood probably wasn’t high on any other home video company’s to-do lists, it’s groovy that it has received an HD release at all.
Get A Bucket of Blood on Amazon.com here.