[Review] ‘Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson’ Shines Light on an Overlooked Legend

When discussions about the best low-budget schlock masters come up, it’s typically a list of the usual suspects. Names like Ed Wood, Roger Corman, and Lloyd Kaufman quickly come to mind. Very different directors, of course, but built from the same cloth. While each one of these directors is worthy of the praise and admiration they receive, many deserving others don’t always get the same recognition. Chief among them is Al Adamson. If director-producer David Gregory and Severin Films have their way, that’s about to change.

The new documentary, Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson takes a look at the long career of the B-movie maven and his unfortunate and gruesome death. Featuring archive footage of Adamson, and a mix of new and old interviews with his friends and colleagues, the films gives the audience an in-depth look into the director’s life.

Adamson’s introduction to the world of cinema came via his father, Denver Dixon. Dixon developed a successful career making ultra-low-budget westerns and Adamson fell in love. In 1961, Adamson assisted his father on Halfway to Hell. The film was a disaster, but Adamson got his first taste of directing and from there he would never look back. 

Adamson’s first effort was a straight-forward thriller originally titled Echo of Terror. With the help of young distributor Sam Sherman, the film would undergo a wide range of changes. Multiple titles, cuts, and re-shoots later, and Adamson was a full-time working director. And he and Sherman developed the perfect low-budget partnership.

Adamson’s approach was simple. He found people willing to work for next to nothing (and most of the time it was nothing) and he made cheap movies. Most of the time he and Sherman started with a catchy title and eye-popping poster and then worked back to the movie. Maybe the movies weren’t always good. Maybe they were never good, but they were always better than they had any right being. And that’s all part of the Adamson charm.

The doc does a wonderful job talking to some of the people closest to Adamson. This includes Sherman, Russ Tamblyn, Bud Cardos, Robert Dix, Gary Kent, Stevee Ashlock, Marilyn Joi, and a whole lot more. There is even some archive footage, include Adamson’s final interview. They all share various stories and personal anecdotes and they all come to the same conclusion – Adamson was cheap, he was sometimes difficult to work with, but everyone adored him.

My favorite of the interviews comes from Oscar-winner Vilmos Zsigmond. That’s right, this documentary about a cult filmmakers features an Oscar-winning cinematographer. Zsigmond shot a few films for Adamson, charging him $100 a day. On the first weekend, Adamson left for a few hours and asked Zsigmond to direct a few scenes. As it turns out, Adamson went to deliver some newspaper so he could make the hundred bucks. He paid Zsigmond in dollar bills and loose chains. Zsigmond said he respected this and it made him want to work with Adamson more. Laughing, he would later say that Adamson screwed him over plenty of times.

The movie works its way through Adamson’s career, highlighting a number of his most famous titles along the way. Movies like Blood of Dracula’s CastleSatin’s Sadists, and Dracula vs. Frankenstein get a lot of air time. There’s also a lengthy discussion on what is perhaps his most interesting movie – Carnival Magic. One of the last films Adamson directed, Carnival Magic was intended to be a family movie. And I guess it sort of is, but it features a talking chimp and some very adult themes. It’s a bonkers movie that everyone must watch.

While Blood & Flesh is a celebration of Adamson’s work, it gets emotional and heavy in the last 45 minutes or so. Unfortunately, Adamson’s life mirrored the grisly horror films he directed. After the untimely death of his wife, Regina Carrol, Adamson stepped away from filmmaking and moved into real estate. In the mid-’90s he hired contractor Fred Fulford to help him renovate the house he was living in at the time. Given this is a documentary, it’s no spoiler to say Fulford ended up murdering Adamson. 

The film dives into all the horrific details and features interviews with the detectives that investigated the murder. This includes video footage of the moments leading up to the discovery of Adamson’s body. The most heartbreaking moment is an interview with Adamson’s former housekeeper. She walks the audience through everything that transpired with Adamson and Fulford, breaking down when she remembers the moment she knew Adamson was dead. 

Blood & Flesh is the best documentary about a filmmaker I have ever seen. Adamson’s story is unique, and despite the devastating conclusion, it’s inspiring. Adamson did things his way. He wasn’t deterred by a lack of funding or bad reviews. He wanted to make movies and so he did.


Blood & Flesh hits VOD today. Those looking to own the Blu-ray can get it directly from Severin Films; it releases on April 21st and can be purchased on its own or as part of Al Adamson: The Masterpiece Collection. This box set limited to 2000 copies and features 31 remastered Adamson films on 14 discs. Also included is a 126-page book.

Full details below.

Disc 1: Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson/The Female Bunch

Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson Special Features:

  • Outtakes – The Cowboy Life Of Denver DixonRuss Tamblyn’s Melted TVManson & Screaming Angels, and The Prophetic Screenplay Makes Gary Kent Testify
  • Beyond This Earth Promo Reel
  • Trailer

The Female Bunch Special Features:

  • The Bunch Speaks Out
  • Trailers

Disc 2: Psycho A Go-Go/Fiend with the Electronic Brain/Blood of Ghastly Horror

Psycho A Go-Go Special Features:

  • Trailer

Fiend with the Electronic Brain Special Features:

  • Alternate Title Sequence: Man with the Synthetic Brain
  • Trailer

Blood of Ghastly Horror Special Features:

  • Archival Audio Commentary with Producer Samuel M. Sherman
  • Trailer

Disc 3: Halfway to Hell/Five Bloody Graves

Five Bloody Graves Special Features:

  • Outside of Tucson: Interview with Actor/Screenwriter Robert Dix
  • Partial Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • Alternate Title Sequence: Five Bloody Days to Tombstone
  • Radio Spots
  • Trailer

Disc 4: Blood of Dracula’s Castle (Both Theatrical and TV cuts)/Horror of the Blood Monsters

Blood of Dracula’s Castle Special Features:

  • Partial Audio Commentary with Expert Brian Albright
  • Audio Interview Excerpt with Alex D’Arcy
  • Trailer

Horror of the Blood Monsters Special Features:

  • Partial Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • Alternate Title Sequence: Space Mission of the Lost Planet
  • Trailers
  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spot

Disc 5: Smashing the Crime Syndicate (a.k.a The Fakers)/Hell’s Bloody Devils

Smashing The Crime Syndicate Special Features:

  • Alternate Title Sequence: The Fakers (Original Title)

Hell’s Bloody Devils Special Features:

  • Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • Sam Sherman Interviews Actor John Gabriel
  • Trailer
  • TV Spots

Disc 6: Dracula vs. Frankenstein/Brain of Blood

Dracula vs. Frankenstein Special Features:

  • Zandor and Friends: Interview with Cast & Crew
  • Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • Feed Your Head! Lose Your Head!: An Appreciation by Cult Film Historian Howard S. Berger
  • Monster Protest Home Movie Footage
  • Sam Sherman Interviews Forry Ackerman
  • Outtakes
  • Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Audio Spots Including Triple Feature of Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror, and Horror of the Blood Monsters

Brain of Blood Special Features:

  • Partial Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • Memories of Blood: Interviews with Director Al Adamson, Producer Samuel M. Sherman, Actor Zandor Vorkov and More
  • Trailer
  • Radio Spots

Disc 7: Satan’s Sadists/Angel’s Wild Women

Satan’s Sadists Special Features:

  • Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • TV Spots
  • Outtakes
  • Radio Spots
  • Trailers

Angel’s Wild Women Special Features:

  • Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • TV Spot
  • Radio Spots
  • Trailer

Disc 8: The Naughty Stewardesses/Blazing Stewardesses

The Naughty Stewardesses Special Features:

  • Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • Fly Girls: The Stewardess as Lifestyle Icon in The Golden Age of Exploitation
  • TV Spot
  • Radio Spots
  • Trailer

Blazing Stewardesses Special Features:

  • Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • Alternate Title Sequence: The Great Truck Robbery
  • Trailer
  • TV Spot
  • Combo TV Spot
  • Bedroom Stewardesses (Adamson-Directed Scenes Only)
  • Radio Spots

Disc 9: Girls For Rent/Jessi’s Girls/Nurses For Sale

Girls For Rent Special Features:

  • Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • Alternate Title Sequence: I Spit On Your Corpse
  • Trailer
  • Radio Spot

Jessi’s Girls Special Features:

  • Trailer

Nurses For Sale Special Features:

  • TV Spot

Disc 10: Black Heat/The Dynamite Brothers

Black Heat Special Features:

  • Partial Archival Audio Commentary by Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • Alternate Title Sequence: Girls Hotel
  • Alternate Title Sequence: The Murder Gang
  • Trailers

The Dynamite Brothers Special Features:

  • TV Spots

Disc 11: Mean Mother/Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Mean Mother Special Features:

  • Partial Archival Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • The Joy of Marilyn Joi: Interview with Actress Marilyn Joi
  • Trailer

Uncle Tom’s Cabin Special Features:

  • TV Spots
  • Radio Spots

Disc 12: Black Samurai/Death Dimension

Black Samurai Special Features:

  • Trailer

Disc 13: Sunset Cove/Cinderella 2000/Nurse Sherri

Sunset Cove Special Features:

  • Sunset Toolbox: Interview with Producer Tony DiDio
  • TV Spot
  • Trailers

Cinderella 2000 Special Features:

  • Partial Audio Commentary with Producer/Distributor Samuel M. Sherman
  • Trailer
  • Radio Spots

Nurse Sherri Special Features:

  • Dr. Dracula: Selected Scenes Directed by Al Adamson
  • TV Spot
  • Radio Spot
  • Trailer

Disc 14: Carnival Magic/LOST

Carnival Magic Special Features:

  • A Boom To Science – A Critical Appreciation by Zack Carlson & Lars Nilsen
  • Audio Commentary with Producer Elvin Feltner
  • Outtakes
  • TV Spot
  • Trailer

LOST Special Features:

  • The Happy Hobo – Rushes for Promo From Unproduced Adamson Kids Film
  • Trailer

PLEASE NOTE: THIS BOX SET IS REGION A EXCEPT FOR DISCS 1, 12, AND 14 WHICH ARE REGION FREE.

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