Monday, November 16, 2015

Finally -- a chance to see the Dick Miller/Roger Corman classic, A BUCKET OF BLOOD, in a newly-restored, hi-def version

In this year's delightful documentary, That Guy Dick Miller, viewers learned a lot about a certain classic exploitation film from the late 1950s called A BUCKET OF BLOOD, the movie that pretty much put Mr. Miller of the map. One of the things I craved most while watching that nice little doc was the chance to actually see A Bucket of Blood. Now, thanks to a company called The Film Detective, we can -- and in a very well-restored, hi-def version, at that.

Directed (and not at all badly) by Roger Corman and written by Charles B. Griffith, the movie is a near-perfect time capsule of its era -- from the black-and-white cinematography that nicely apes film noir to its tale of a shy and schlubby waiter in a beatnik cafe of the day (the film's "take" on beatnik culture is funny and quite on the mark) to its take-down of pompous art critics and art culture (as true then as it is now).

The famous (especially for those of us who love our character actors) Mr. Miller, above, plays that waiter with a wonderful mix of sincerity, goofiness and the kind of edge that comes from being put down over an entire lifetime. Miller has always been a fine actor, and here, in a leading role, he owns the movie and delivers in every way.

The dialog is crisp and unshowy, with humour bubbling up pretty consistently, and when the movie turns dark, it does so quite believably -- even if the idea of the art on display fooling anyone for long is rather ridiculous. But that's part of the satire here. Supporting roles are handled well, and the film's running time of just 66 minutes means that it's over before you can object to its craziness.

For Miller fans, this restoration should be a must. For anyone else who wants to know what B-moviemaking was like back in the day (and what Mr. Corman could do with a minuscule budget and a lot of talented help), A Bucket of Blood should prove eye-opening -- and lots of fun. It arrived on Blu-ray just prior to Halloween. Click here for more information.

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