As with another of director Roger Corman's many films, "Little Shop of Horrors" (1960), "A Bucket of Blood" is a dark comedy that pokes fun at contemporary culture through macabre exaggeration. In the case of this film, it's the mid-20th century Beat counterculture, the cool older sister to the more vivacious Hippie movement. "A Bucket of Blood" (1953) starts with a mistake: when the clay-coated corpse of a cat is mistaken for a well-crafted sculpture, busboy Walter Paisley is launched on a career in the Fine Art of Murder. Craving more praise for his "hideous and eloquent" sculptures, Paisley continues to build his collection—and acclaim—with human subjects.
Marked by disaffection with the status quo, The Beat Generation got its name from the slang for individuals who were downtrodden but still vital. The Beats (a.k.a. Beatniks) were, in poet Jack Kerouac's words, "solitary Bartlebies" (a reference to a Herman Melville character) who valued nonconformity as a sign and pathway to a more beatific and beautiful experience of life. As with most things that strike a deep chord in the collective psyche, the Beat movement soon enough accumulated its share of interpreters and entrepreneurs who processed it into the absurd stereotypes Corman has so much fun with in this film.