AIP Mines Mirth Out Of Murder
Tongue-In-Cheek Selling For A Bucket Of Blood (1959)
Bragging right was justified in Roger Corman and AIP having wrapped A Bucket Of Blood over five days for $50,000 (one source claims $40K). Since results matter most, it's for us to say if Bucket rose above the rush, though from this end of at long last seeing it, I'd say yes to all who'd call BoB one of the best things Jim and Sam released during days when cheapies came in matched pairs (A Bucket Of Blood went out with The Giant Leeches). "Black comedy" can sometimes not be black enough or sufficiently funny. Bucket pleased for pretensions of hipness being diced, and I'd like to think it captures at least a microcosm, given Corman's micro-budget, of beatnik life. The chill scenes work on that level, Dick Miller's Walter Paisley a schlep, but a lethal one.
Roger and writer Charles Griffith had a jest that could pass for a horror movie, but AIP chose to sell it as spoof, which was no small risk in a marketplace that liked chillers served straight or not at all. The way had at least been paved by William Castle and comic drawings he lent to publicity for Macabre and more recent House On Haunted Hill. Nice thing about A Bucket Of Blood and the Castles was option to take them serious if you were so disposed, or laugh if spirit was moved. Among most arresting of Bucket beats is Julian Burton, a spitting voice and facial image for Laird Cregar, whose character reminded me very much of LC's in Blood and Sand. Direction shows real flair for get-'er-done tempo, Corman delivering best as always at a run. A Bucket Of Blood took domestic rentals of $186K, not a lot we'd say, but over three times what was spent. It didn't take much to keep lights on at American-International.