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A Bucket of Blood / The Giant Leeches; October, 1959
Topic Started: Jul 7 2018, 06:02 PM (116 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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A Bucket of Blood (1959) Prod. & Dir. by Roger Corman
AltaVista Productions / Distributed by American International Pictures
66 min. / B&W / 1.85:1

(Attack of) The Giant Leeches (1959) Dir. Bernard L. Kowalski
Balboa Productions / Distributed by American International Pictures
62 min. / B&W / 1.66:1

ITB Shock Theatre #227
ITB Strange Science Cinema #171

As the '50s wore on, the quality (and we use that word carelessly) of drive-in double features... shall we say... "waned" a bit. We're only a couple of years after teenage werewolves and saucer men and now we've got store mannequins wrapped in clay and college students with raincoats pulled over their heads. Not that I'm COMPLAINING, mind. These two Roger Corman favorites (and I use that word flippantly) are probably more in film-goers' public consciousness these days than a lot of bigger movies of 1959. I'm told that the budgets for both films were about $120,000 and the total net shooting days was only eleven, so let's get on with it, shall we?

First up is A Bucket of Blood, a film advertised as "You'll be sick, sick, sick - from LAUGHING!" but that I've never found particularly funny. I mean, it's WEIRD funny but not "ha-ha" funny." Purportedly, Corman's budget was so low he directed writer Charles B. Griffith to write a comedy (using standing sets from Diary of a High School Bride) and they decided to do a parody of then-popular "Beatnik" coffee shops.

That guy Dick Miller is Walter Paisley, half-wit busboy at The Yellow Door, peopled by pretentious poets, goofy guitarists, undercover cops looking for druggies, and Corman's sexiest leading lady, Barboura Morris, an artist groupie. Walter longs to join the in crowd and gets his chance when he accidentally stabs the neighbor's cat, covers it with clay, and proclaims it his sculpture, "Dead Cat." It proves such a hit that it's followed by "Murdered Man," "Strangled Woman," "Beheaded Guy Who'd Been Working with a Saw," etc. It takes so little to turn people into a homicidal maniac, doesn't it?

One of Corman's more celebrated films, even if it doesn't reach the dizzying heights of its follow-up, Little Shop of Horrors, a year later. Miller and Morris are big favorites 'round here, which adds to our appreciation of the film, and the supporting cast is dotted with Anthony Carbone and Bruno VeSota for you Corman fans and Bert Convy(!) and Ed Nelson for the rest of you.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Pretentious coffee-shop patron: "Walter has a clear mind. One day something will enter it, feel lonely, and leave again."

The promotional campaign for this really played it up as a Chas. Addams-type black comedy and it definitely set a new bar for bizarre death humor in the movies. In the far, far future it's in the public domain but there's an "official" DVD release from Olive Films; we have the Film Detective Blu-ray, which is excellent.

Next up is a very funny cartoon, Magoo's Puddle Jumper, which just won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Subject; Mr. Magoo buys a new car and drives it into the ocean and yeah, that's the whole story. We also saw a bunch of snack bar ads (come early for dinner, one says, showing a family of four eating chicken at the drive-in at what appears to be 1 in the afternoon) and a trailer for the upcoming Angry Red Planet - in Cinemagic! Wow!

And so it's on to the Giant Leeches, which may or may not be attacking, based on whether you believe the poster or the opening credits. Bruno VeSota is back, and he's - get this - married to Yvette Vickers, and I dunno (a) how his heart withstood their wedding night, and (b) if I'll ever get the picture of the two of them rolling around together naked out of my head. Anyway, she treats him with scorn and whores around with the better-looking, slimmer men in town, which is virtually every guy within 2,000 miles. They live at the edge of a swamp where giant leeches are, if not attacking, at least lurking about (they're played by, yes, college students in sewn-together, painted black slickers). Sooner or later even the leeches get tired of all the lechery and melodrama of our young lovers and start dragging people to their underwater cave and sucking out their blood and other precious bodily fluids. Local cop Gene Roth (did that guy EVER reject a script?) isn't interested in investigating any monster attacks since it's not part of his job description to go after things he can't arrest (well, that's what he SAYS, anyway) so local game warden Ken Clark leads a one-man leech hunt into the swamp.

Miss Vickers had just appeared in Playboy magazine, and if she thought that was going to be a springboard to a movie career a la Marilyn Monroe, well... I wonder how she felt about this picture. I just wonder.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Bruno to his comely bride: ""Who do you think you're talking to? You're my wife, I'll touch you anytime I FEEL like it! Where are you going?"

As 1950s monster movies go, this one has Yvette Vickers and that, my friends, is enough for THIS reviewer.

Another public domain film in the far future; Retromedia has a Blu-ray of it but we have the somewhat dark Elite Entertainment DVD.

Kinda sad that the 1950s are coming to a close. Kinda.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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