From the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, director and Hollywood native Al Adamson made genre films – mostly horror, but also science fiction, Westerns, biker pictures, comedies and the occasional hybrid of all of those genres – that due to their subject matter, miniscule budgets and Al’s cost-cutting measures (stock footage, threadbare special effects), were often labeled “bad” movies and lumped in with the works of Ed Wood or Larry Buchanan.
And while there’s no denying that Al’s films, which include “Dracula vs. Frankenstein,” “Blood of Ghastly Horror,” and “Satan’s Sadists,” push the boundaries of how most would define a horror film – or any film – they also display his boundless and infectious enthusiasm for the process of making movies, as well as his fondness for the movies and stars of yesterday, including Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine, Russ Tamblyn and Yvonne De Carlo, who mingled with his own company of stock players, including his wife, Regina Carroll, and even the likes of Colonel Sanders, all of whom came together in a dizzying mix of plastic fangs, cardboard space ships and gleefully gloppy gore.
Severin Films has just released David Gregory’s new documentary on Al’s career and life, which came to an unfortunate end in 1995 when he was murdered by a contractor working on his home in Indio. “Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson,” which opens in Los Angeles on November 1 for a week-long run at the Laemmle Monica Film Center, features eye-popping footage from his films and interviews with many of his collaborators and admirers, including fellow filmmakers John “Bud” Cardos and Fred Olen Ray, Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, horror/cult historians Michael J. Weldon and Chris Poggiali, and Adamson’s biographer, David Konow, who knew his subject well, and passed along this message to LA Beat readers:
“I’ve been a huge fan of movies that are so bad they’re great fun since I was a kid. I grew up watching a lot of this stuff on TV, and still carry those memories with me into adulthood. Al Adamson became a director, like Ed Wood, who became synonymous with ‘bad’ filmmaking that I’ve loved for many years, and I’m glad this movie got made. It’s long overdue, and I hope there will be renewed interest in these films for today’s generation. Like the movie ‘Ed Wood,’ ‘Blood & Flesh’ gives you a pretty good idea of how tough it can be to make a movie with a dollar and a dream, and it’s a remarkable story. It, of course, has a tragic ending, but both parts of the story, the triumphant and the tragic, are balanced very well in ‘Blood & Flesh,’ and I’m proud to be a part of it.”