There was a bit of a fracas here on Cinematical a few months back over whether or not Roger Corman actually deserved his 2009 honorary Oscar. It's true that Roger Corman's directorial career is a bit spotty and filled with duds, but not more so than Oscar-winning directors like John G. Avildsen or Ron Howard. The real issue is that the Academy never, ever considers anything that doesn't look and feel prestigious, so that usually rules out comedies, horror movies and B-movies, which -- by all counts -- can be as great as "prestigious" movies. Corman is responsible for at least a half-dozen outstanding second-gear films, including The Intruder (1961) and The Masque of the Red Death (1964), and this great black comedy, which Corman made when he was getting tired of horror and was in the mood for some fun.
Corman insisted was the first black comedy made in many years; I guess he wasn't counting Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux, or Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry. Either way, A Bucket of Blood has a vibe all its own, set in the beatnik cafes of the day, with the bongo drums, the berets, the beards, "free jazz" saxophone, the coffee and bran muffins, and the dark, groovy poetry. It was perhaps Corman's first film to establish a really rich atmosphere, which only grew richer on the subsequent Poe films; it's all the more remarkable when you learn that Corman shot the movie in just five days (his personal record at the time). Not to mention that he made both A Bucket of Blood and The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) back-to-back for $50,000.
(Check out the movie after the jump.)