Horror-comedy season continues with Bloody Mama/A Bucket of Blood (1959), although we only watched Bucket of Blood. After The Howling, we wanted to see the original Walter Paisley.
In this Corman cheapie, Dick Miller plays Walter Paisley, a dim-witted busboy in a beatnik coffeeshop. It starts with Julian Burton on stage reciting a beat poem about Art with a freeform sax accompaniment. Listening to the poem gives Walter the idea that no one matters except the artist, so he decides to become a sculptor. I don't think I'm giving away anything when I say that his first sculpture is a cat he accidentally kills, covered in clay.
Of course, "Dead Cat" becomes a hit among the habitues and patrons of the coffeeshop. Art collector Bruno VeSota is willing to pay big bucks for it, but what will he do for an encore? Something with a human subject, perhaps?
Although this is totally low-budget, it has a lot going for it. The beatnik demimonde seems very realistic - Julian Burton wrote his own poetry, and actually habitually wore sandals. There were poets, hangers-on, kibitzers, plain-jane groupies (and junkies), slumming straights, and narcs. The folksinger, who sang murder ballads while Walter displayed his grisly statues, was Alex Hassilev, soon to form the Limelighters.
The writing is nice as well, with Walter repeating lines of dialog from earlier in the movies, giving them a new spin. All better than it needed to be. Not good, of course - this is Corman we're talking about. But lots of fun.
According to IMDB, it is not true that Dick Miller's character is always named Walter Paisley in whatever movie he is in. He is in a lot of movies, and only a few times as WP. But this was the first and iconic appearance.