Tag Archives: night of the creeps

Who’s Walter Paisley?

titleIn 1959, up-and-coming actor Dick Miller starred in the film A Bucket of Blood, an hour-long black and white horror flick set during the beatnik heyday, directed by prolific filmmaker Roger Corman (at that point, Corman had already directed over 20 films in the three short years he’d been making movies); it would prove to be a serendipitous meeting, one that would spawn a character that Miller would end up playing several times over the next 35 years.

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In A Bucket of Blood, Miller played ‘Walter Paisley’, a struggling artist who tries desperately to make his mark in the bourgeoning Bohemian art scene. It’s only after ol’ Walt starts killing people and pets alike – and covering them in clay – that he finally gets noticed and starts receiving the attention and accolades he’d wanted for so long. But that was only the beginning for that character. Here’s what Dick Miller recalled about playing Walter Paisley after A Bucket of Blood in a 2012 interview:

“When it first happened, or when it second happened, I didn’t think much of it. [Director Joe Dante] says, “You’re Walter Paisley!” I say, “Again?” He says, “It’s just a name, it’s not the character.” I said, “All right, fine.” I didn’t think about it. And then the third time it came up, he said, “You’re Walter Paisley!” I said, “Oh yeah?” It started to build, it was an inside joke. And by the fourth time he says, “You’re Walter Paisley,” I’m saying, “What is this? Every time there’s no name for the character, I become Walter Paisley.” He says, “So what, it’s an inside joke.”

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And so it was. In 1976, Joe Dante – at the time, an unknown assistant to the aforementioned Corman – made his feature film directorial debut with the Corman-produced Hollywood Boulevard. Keeping the camaraderie going, Dante decides to name Miller’s character ‘Walter Paisley’, and with this nod to his boss, Dante would set in motion an in-joke that would pop up in another six films!

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Dante would resurrect the Paisley character in 1981 with his awesome werewolf flick The Howling. In the film, Paisley is the owner of an occult bookshop. His role is a pivotal one: he not only provides the protagonist with all the necessary information on how to stop the werewolves…but also the silver bullets to actually get the job done. Miller claims this is one of his favorite roles. The movie also has cameos from Roger Corman, as well as sci-fi cornerstone Forrest J Ackerman (Miller would later play a character named ‘Mr. Ackerman’ in an episode of ER.)

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Once again, under the direction of Joe Dante, ‘Walter Paisley’ makes yet another onscreen appearance – this time in the 1983 classic Twilight Zone: The Movie. It’s a brief appearance, as the Paisley cameos sometimes are. This time, Walter is the proprietor of a little diner. He pops up in the third segment of the film which is entitled, It’s a Good Life. Blink and you could miss him.

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 1986 would prove to be the most active year yet for the character, seeing him show up in two films released just a few months apart. The first was the Corman-produced Chopping Mall from director Jim Wynorski. Walt, a mall janitor, is electrocuted to death by the security robots that are running amok through the shopping center. Paisley isn’t the only fictional character to be carried over from another film to this one. In an odd inclusion, Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov reprise their Eating Raoul characters, ‘Paul & Mary Bland’. The film also stars genre staples Barbara Crampton, Angus Scrimm, and Gerrit Graham.

(Fun Fact: Woronov, Bartel, Graham, Miller, as well as Roger Corman and Joe Dante, had all previously appeared together in the Bartel-directed Cannonball!)

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 Just a couple months after his appearance in Chopping Mall, the Paisley character would pop up again, this time in the Fred Dekker-directed genre bending Night of the Creeps. Paisley is a cop in this film – a role Miller would end up playing in a majority of his movies. Night of the Creeps is intentionally a very referential film, including naming all of the characters after famous horror directors, having Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger play zombies, and even naming the college the kids go to “Corman University”. So it doesn’t seem as though Paisley is there within the Dante/Corman universe, but rather is being paid homage to by Dekker.

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Finally we have Rebel Highway, a short-lived television program set during the 1950s that aired on Showtime back in the mid-90s. Each episode ran about an hour and half long, and they were each directed by a different genre director – Robert Rodriguez, John Milius, and William Friedkin – just to name a few. Walter Paisley popped up – playing a cop – in the sixth episode entitled, “Shake, Rattle and Rock!”, alongside the aforementioned Mary Woronov and Gerrit Graham. Curiously enough, Joe Dante would end up directing an episode of Rebel Highway, and would even include Dick Miller, yet the character was named “Roy Farrell”. Makes ya wonder.

So there you have it. Seven times Dick Miller has played “Walter Paisley”. A Bucket of Blood was remade in 1995, with Anthony Michael Hall taking over the lead role. But we all know there’s only one Walter Paisley: that guy Dick Miller.

“Night of the Creeps” (1986) REVIEW

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Ho-lee shit this movie is great. It’s so perfect, it’s not even funny. It somehow manages to blend three styles of horror film into one. It takes the 50s B-movie genre, the zombie genre, and the space alien genre and mashes it together into this beautiful, funny, cohesive gem. This is yet another late-80s classic that is very ‘punk rock’ in its execution and isn’t afraid to be funny. That’s the main problem with horror films today — they lack humor.

As I mentioned above, this film somehow manages to bring together three of the most opposite genres perfectly. The first third of the film is in black and white. A couple sits on lovers lane. Over the radio they hear an announcement: a maniac has escaped a hospital for the criminally insane. The girl, scared, wants to go home, but the guy isn’t having it. He leaves to take a leak, and while he’s gone she ends up being slaughtered by the escaped maniac. However, the boyfriend isn’t so safe either, as he discovers a weird canister on the ground from which a leech-like alien jumps out of and into his mouth.

Years later, a young college student falls in love with a girl on campus and decides in order to win her over he must join a frat. As part of his pledge, the young guy has to steal a cadaver from the university medical center cryogenics lab. He and his buddy do so, but little do they know the body they attempt to steal is the corpse of the young man who ate the alien leech many years ago.

You can see where this is going: upon defrosting the body, the leeches reanimate and cause the body to come back to life. The leeches also multiple and spread from person to person, usually by flying from the infected’s mouth into the victim’s mouth. Hell breaks loose on campus and it’s great.

This was directed by Fred “The Monster Squad” Dekker and stars genre staple Tom Atkins. What’s not to love?