A slight twist on the bodies-in-the-wax-museum trope that's also a beatnik pastiche, a send-up of art-snob culture, a tale of unrequited love, a desperate, hopeless attempt to achieve status and acceptance, and a bit of a crime-noir with a shadowy back-alley chase.
It's a shame Dick Miller never got another starring role. He really turned in a fascinating performance here.
A slick deconstruction on beatniks, bohemians, hipsters, whatever. Outrageously funny and incisively cunning with sharply perceptions about art world, arty pretensions, smooth surfaces and lofty incompetence. For A satirists and B-aristocrats only. Vive Ti-Jean Kéroack !
Regardless of budgetary limitations this send up of beatnik culture and the superficiality of the art world is an enjoyable romp. Busboy, played in rare leading man mode by Dick Miller, is thrust into the spotlight when a macabre creation of his is appreciated and those around him unknowingly drive him to kill to 'create' additional art. Good script that realizes brevity can be a virtue. Legendary quick shoot.
Taking from 1953's House of Wax, yet unlike that film it's still modern in its telling (even if it's unfussy,) as well as Corman's critique of the art world that's very on-point. Miller makes art that makes him the next huge thing for the beatnik hipsters. But his pieces are superficial, thus his praise is unwarranted, and therefore, it attacks the soullessness of pop culture and the low worth of sheep herd fads.
***1/2. Fascinating study, for a 2010 audience at least, of the beatnik movement in the U.S., a little bit caricatural of course but oh so true if one thinks of the pseudo cultural movements that appeared since like the Hippies, the New Age or the Ecolo-Terrorists. Julian Burton's performance as the beatnik poet Maxwell H. Brock deserves to stay in the annals of Movie History. Highly recommended.