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Walter Paisley is the name of several film characters portrayed by actor Dick Miller. The name first appeared in the Roger Corman film A Bucket of Blood. In that film, Paisley is a busboy who becomes an artist of sorts by killing his subjects and covering them in clay. In 1976, Miller once again played a character named Walter Paisley, in another Corman production, Hollywood Boulevard, directed by Joe Dante. Dante cast Miller as another character named Walter Paisley in the 1981 film The Howling. This time, Paisley is the owner of an occult bookshop. Two years later, the name popped up again for another Miller character, the owner of a diner in the third segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie 1986's Chopping Mall featured a janitor named Walter Paisley, and the 1994 made-for-TV remake of Shake, Rattle and Rock! had Miller playing a character named Officer Paisley. In 1995, A Bucket of Blood was remade, with Anthony Michael Hall as Walter Paisley.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Walter accidentally kills his landlord's cat.

Walter Paisley was a simple-minded, yet well-meaning busboy who worked at a trendy Bohemian café called The Yellow Door. His employer was a self-important entrepreneur named Leonard de Santis. An aspiring artist in his own right, Walter was in awe of The Yellow Door's regular clientele, which consisted of artists, musicians and poets. One man in particular who had a profound impact on Walter's life was the beatnik poet and social rebel Maxwell H. Brock.

One evening after work, Walter returned home and began preparing himself some supper. He heard a mewling noise coming from within the wall and realized that it was a cat that belonged to his landlord Mrs. Swickert. He couldn't comprehend how the animal managed to get inside the walls of the building, but he took up a knife and tried to cut away a piece of the plaster to let it out. Unfortunately, when he cut into the wall, he accidentally stabbed the cat, killing it. He couldn't risk bringing the cat outside without alerting Mrs. Swickert, so he coated the body with modeling clay and passed it off as a work of art which he called (appropriately enough) "Dead Cat".

Walter presented "Dead Cat" to Leonard and Carla. Carla thought the piece was wonderful and admitted that she didn't realize how talented Walter really was. Leonard was less than impressed with his ambitious busboy but nonetheless offered to help Walter sell it. "Dead Cat" was showcased at "The Yellow Door" and Walter became an instant celebrity sensation at the café. One of the patrons, Naolia, gushed over the piece and told Walter that she had to give him something to show her appreciation of his talent. She shoved a vial of narcotics into his hands and the nervous, Paisley, unaware of what she had passed him, put the drugs into his pocket.

"Murdered Man"

As it turned out, The Yellow Door was the subject of a police sting operation and an undercover officer witnessed Naolia passing Walter the drugs and deduced that Walter was part of a drug ring. He followed him back to his apartment and confronted him. Walter had no idea what the man was talking about and grew increasingly agitated when he began pointing a gun in Walter's direction. Walter panicked and in self defense, he bashed the detective over the head with a skillet, killing him. To dispose of the body, Walter coated in clay as he did with the cat and turned it into his next sculpture, "Murdered Man".

Walter invited Leonard de Santis and Carla to his apartment and unveiled Murdered Man. By this point, Leonard had learned the truth about the cat, and recoiled in horror as he began to realize that "Murdered Man" was an actual human being. He was reluctant to expose Walter however until he had more proof.

"Murdered Man" boosted Walter's confidence and credibility and when next he returned to The Yellow Door, it was not as an ignoble busboy, but as a respected artist. The other patrons clamored around him, showering him with praise over his apparent talent. One woman however, Alice, was not particularly impressed with Walter or his work and talked down to him, embarrassing him in front of his new friends. Despite this, she offered to pose for Walter's next sculpture at a price of $25.00 per hour.

Walter took Alice up on her offer and invited her back to his apartment. She removed her clothing and positioned herself on a stool. Walter had her tie a scarf about her neck, after which, Walter tightened the scarf, ultimately strangling Alice. As with the others, Walter coated Alice's corpse in clay and presented her as his next statue. Maxwell H. Brock was so impressed with Paisley's creativity that he rented out The Yellow Door for a special event celebrating Walter's work. He even wrote a poem for Paisley titled "Walter is Born", which he read publicly at the party.

With renewed confidence, Walter now felt that he was the sort of person deserving of Carla's affection. He took her aside and expressed his unrequited love for her, asking her to marry him. Though she certainly liked Walter, she was not in love with him and could not accept his marriage proposal. Walter was broken-hearted.

On his way home, a highly-inebriated Walter came upon a construction site. He attacked a worker and decapitated him with his own circular saw. He then took the head home with him and made a clay bust out of it. He presented the bust to Leonard the following day, but the entrepreneur was repulsed by what Walter had apparently done to produce his latest masterpiece.

Leonard believed that if he could give Walter the recognition that he craved, he would then lose interest in his newfound vocation and hopefully stop killing people. He told Walter that he was going to host a special exhibit at The Yellow Door showcasing his art. During the exhibition, Carla gave "Alice" a close inspection and noticed some flakes of clay falling from the statue's hand. Underneath was a human fingernail. Carl now knew what Leonard had only suspected - Walter was murdering people and turning them into works of art.

Terrified, Carla fled the café, screaming. Walter chased after her, leaving the others behind to learn the truth about "Alice" for themselves. Once they realized what he had been doing, they declared him a murderer and formed a lynch mob that ran through the streets of the city, hunting him down.

Walter returned to his apartment. He knew the police would soon be after him and decided to hide where nobody would find him. He covered his body in clay and hung himself, in a way, turning himself into his own final masterpiece.

The Howling[edit | edit source]

Walter Paisley

Walter Paisley owned an occult book store in Los Angeles, California. He told customers Chris Halloran and Terry Fisher about the nature of werewolves. He also sold Chris a case of thirty-ought-six silver bullets which Chris later used to defend himself against werewolves at the Colony.

Notes & Trivia[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Date approximated based upon the age of actor Dick Miller.

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