Category Archives: Dick Miller

Blu-Ray Review: A Bucket Of Blood (1959).

Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Charles B. Griffith
Cinematography: Jacques R. Marquette
Music by Fred Katz
Film Editor: Anthony Carras

Cast: Dick Miller (Walter Paisley), Barboura Morris (Carla), Antony Carbone (Leonard de Santis), Julian Burton (Maxwell H. Brock), Ed Nelson (Art Lacroix), John Brinkley (Will), John Herman Shaner (Oscar), Judy Bamber (Alice), Myrtle Vail (Mrs. Swickert), Bert Convy (Detective Lou Raby), Jhean Burton (Naolia)

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This is the kind of blog, read by the kind of people, where A Bucket Of Blood (1959) doesn’t require a lot of set-up. It was written by Charles B. Griffith, directed by Roger Corman for AIP, shot in five days for $50,000 (on sets left over from Diary Of A High School Bride), with the great Dick Miller in the lead. The end result is wonderful.

So, 60 years later, we get A Bucket Of Blood on Blu-Ray from Olive Films, part of their Signature series, and it’s incredible. You probably never thought you’d see this movie look like this. I certainly didn’t.

Sure, it’s still a $50,000 movie about a guy that kills people to make statues. But now we get a chance to really appreciate all that’s going on. We see Corman showing some real confidence as a director, displaying some real chops here and there — and turning out one of the better Horror Comedies, a very-hard-to-pull-off sub-genre. Dick Miller makes Walter Paisley both a lovable chump and a creepy killer. And everyone seems to be in on the fun when it comes to showing us how pretentious, cynical and hypocritical the whole Beatnik scene could be. The dime-store set design is really effective and fun to study in high definition.

Olive Films has given A Bucket Of Blood the attention I think it deserves. We’ve seen it looking so bad for so long — from muddy 16mm dupes to crappy PD VHS tapes and DVDs, it’s a bit of a shock to see it so crisp and clean. I found myself pausing it repeatedly to study things.

Along with the movie looking like a million bucks, a big leap from its $50K origins, we get a bucket-load of terrific extras, most courtesy of Elijah Drenner, whose documentary That Guy Dick Miller is a treasure. Drenner provides a new interview with Corman, an audio commentary and a wonderful visit with Dick Miller and his wife Lanie. This package is a joy from one end to the other, and a great way to revisit an old favorite. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1959, AIP, Charles B. Griffith, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Olive Films, Roger Corman

Blu-Ray Review: White Line Fever (1975).

Directed by Jonathan Kaplan
Written by Ken Freidman & Jonathan Kaplan
Director Of Photography: Fred Koenekamp
Film Editor: O. Nicholas Brown
Music by David Nichtern

Cast: Jan-Michael Vincent (Carrol Jo Hummer), Kay Lenz (Jerri Hummer), Slim Pickens (Duane Haller), Sam Laws (Pops Dinwiddie), L.Q. Jones (Buck Wessle), Don Porter (Cutler), R.G. Armstrong (Prosecutor), Leigh French (Lucy), Dick Miller (Birdie Corman), Martin Kove (Clem)

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Jonathan Kaplan directed a cool Isaac Hayes movie called Truck Turner (1974) and followed it with a movie that’s really about trucks, White Line Fever (1975). It’s a modern day Western, pretty much, with some good stunt work and a terrific cast. Kaplan did exactly what I would’ve done if I had a shot at making a movie in the mid-70s — load it up with all my favorite character actors (his love of Sam Peckinpah is quite obvious here).

Carrol Jo Hummer (Jan Michael Vincent) is a young Air Force vet who gets married (to Kay Lenz), gets a truck and gets out on the road to make a life for his new family. Unfortunately, Carrol Jo soon discovers the high cost of being an honest man in a very corrupt world. But, lucky for us, that sets in motion a lot of action scenes involving all sorts of trucks and Carrol Jo’s Remington pump shotgun.

Growing up in the South in the 70s, White Line Fever was the talk of the playground in the sixth grade — everybody’d seen it over the summer break. It took me years to finally catch up with it (Jaws dominated that summer for me), and when I did, here were all these guys I knew from other movies — Slim Pickens, L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Dick Miller. That remains its chief appeal for me today. Another thing — movies like this, which were sorta dismissed when they came out, sure seem good compared to what came later. I’d watch this 10 times before I’d watch something made in the last 10 years.

White Line Fever is now available from Mill Creek on Blu-Ray with a special sleeve that recycles the old VHS packaging. I worked my way through college at video stores (anybody remember Philadelphia’s Video Village?) and this box — complete with “Action,” PG rating and “Please Rewind” stickers — really took me back. But it’s what’s inside that counts, and this is a near-perfect transfer of a typical mid-70s action movie. You probably have a pretty good idea of what that looks like. There are no extras, just a pretty cool movie looking really good. And that’s plenty good enough for me.

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Filed under 1975, Columbia, Dick Miller, L.Q. Jones, Mill Creek, R.G. Armstrong, Slim Pickens

Blu-Ray News #252: A Bucket Of Blood Signature Edition (1959).

Directed by Roger Corman
Written by Charles B. Griffith
Starring Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Antony Carbone, Bert Convy, Julian Burton

Olive Films has announced their September release of their Signature Edition release of Roger Corman’s A Bucket Of Blood (1959).

Short in five days for something like $50,000, A Bucket Of Blood is an ink-black comedy starring Dick Miller as Walter Paisley. Paisley’s a bonehead who becomes a respected artist among all the hipsters with his piece “Dead Cat,” which happens to be, well, a dead cat. As his fame grows, so does his need for more art — and the bodies his creations require.

Olive is offering up a bucket-load of extras, beginning with a new 4K scan, a commentary, a few interviews, trailers and other goodies. This one’s essential, folks!

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Filed under 1959, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray News, Olive Films, Roger Corman

Blu-Ray News #226: Piranha (1978).

Directed by Joe Dante
Starring Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller, Belinda Balaski, Paul Bartel, Richard Deacon, Bruce Gordon, Stephen The Swimming Swine

I’m so happy to be putting this post together. Because yet another movie that I love dearly, Joe Dante’s Piranha (1978), is getting a real Cadillac of a Blu-Ray release from Scream Factory this June.

One of the prop piranhas.

It’s often called “the best of the Jaws ripoffs.” But it’s more than that. It’s scary. It’s funny. It parades a terrific cast of veteran character actors across the screen. And it just plain entertains. Released the same summer as Jaws 2 (1978), it’s the better picture by far. After all, what could possibly beat a plot like this — scads of piranhas are released into a river, and at the end of the river lies a kids’ summer camp. Pure genius.

Year ago, I was outbid on a 16mm print of this movie that turned up on eBay. This extras-packed Blu-Ray will certainly help right that wrong. Here’s what you’ll get —
4K Remaster from the original camera negative
New Audio Commentary with Roger Corman
Audio Commentary with  Joe Dante & producer Jon Davison
“The Making Of Piranha” – Interviews with Roger Corman, Joe Dante, Dick Miller, Belinda Balaski & more
Behind-The-Scenes Footage, Bloopers & Outtakes, Additional Scenes from the TV version
Stills, Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots

All that, and it comes in one of those fancy steelbook packages. I can’t wait sink my teeth into this. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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Filed under 1978, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray News, Joe Dante, Kevin McCarthy, New World Pictures, Roger Corman, Shout/Scream Factory

RIP, Dick Miller.

Richard Miller
(December 25, 1928 – January 30, 2019)

Dick Miller, one of my favorite character actors, has passed away at 90. In the early days, he was a member of Roger Corman’s stock company, and he continued to appear in pictures from Corman’s “student” directors like Joe Dante and Jonathan Kaplan. Dante used him in about everything he did.

That’s him in Rock All Night (1957) up top. Boy, will he be missed.

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Filed under Dick Miller

Screening: Piranha (1978) On Shout TV.

Directed by Joe Dante
Starring Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller

I love Piranha (1978), Joe Dante’s Jaws ripoff — produced by Roger Corman and written by John Sayles. I’ve seen it countless times.

Shout TV has a special event planned to celebrate the movie’s 40th anniversary — August 3 on Shout TV’s Twitch channel. To me, this is certainly a movie worth celebrating.

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Filed under 1978, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller, Joe Dante, Kevin McCarthy, New World, Roger Corman, Screenings, Television, William Schallert

Screening: Piranha (1978).

Directed by Joe Dante
Starring Bradford Dillman, Heather Menzies, Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller, Belinda Balaski, Paul Bartel, Richard Deacon, Stephan The Swimming Swine

A 35mm print of Joe Dante’s wonderful Jaws ripoff Piranha (1978) will be run as part of the festivities at the Hudson Horror Show on Saturday, May 20th at 7:55 and 10:40PM.

The Empire South Hills 8
1895 South Rd, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

One of the prop piranhas by Phil Tippett. How cool is that?

Piranha‘s a real favorite, and I’d love to be there. This was one I never caught in the theater.

The Hudson Horror Show’s entire lineup is in 35mm. God bless ’em!

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Filed under 1978, Barbara Steele, Dick Miller, Joe Dante, Kevin McCarthy, New World, Roger Corman, Screenings