‘My phone started ringing off the hook. “Al Adamson is dead!” Say it isn’t so. Not the infamous director of Satan’s Sadists, Blood Of Dracula’s Castle and The Naughty Stewardesses. God couldn’t be that vengeful. “And he was murdered!” You’re kidding? His movies weren’t that bad.
‘It all exploded online the next day. Al had been missing for several weeks, and when police went to investigate his Indio, California, home, they found his body entombed in his “treasured” whirlpool tub, which had been filled with cement and covered over with tile. Soon after, they issued a warrant for Fred Fulford, the contractor who was living and doing work on Adamson’s property. Fulford was later arrested in Florida. What really happened is anyone’s guess, but the scant articles about the crime tried to tie-in the kind of films Al made- “Horror Film Director Meets Macabre End” was typical of the way the story was treated. But anyone familiar with Adamson’s movies knew that he never came up with a scenario this original.
‘Al Adamson was one of those enterprising directors who thrived in the late 60s and early 70s. He kept to genre pictures: cheesy monster movies, biker films, sex comedies, violent westerns, even kiddie flicks. If possible, he threw them all into one movie. After all, these films pandered to the drive-in trade, which was a rather indiscriminate lot. Open any film encyclopedia and the term you’ll likely find to describe his movies will be “god-awful.” Even hardcore Psychotronic fans have a tendency to hate Al Adamson’s films. Writes Kim Newman in Nightmare Movies: “Any fool who thinks bad movies are uproarious fun would be cured if locked in a cinema during an all-night Al Adamson retrospective.”
‘I remember stumbling onto his films on late-night TV and being baffled but wildly amused by them. Through the years, I’ve sought them out on DVD and Blu-ray. Yes, I will grudgingly admit, at times they are incoherent, juvenile, preposterous and hard to sit through. But I’ve come to adore every stupid minute of Adamson’s films. And especially his wife and frequent star- the bodacious and bigger-than-life Regina Carrol.
‘Albert Victor Adamson Jr. was born in a show-business trunk. His father starred and directed many silent westerns and was known onscreen as Denver Dixon; his mother was the actress Dolores Booth. With his dad’s help, Al Junior made his directorial debut with a film called Half Way To Hell. It wasn’t a raging success, and it was several years before he plunged back into the game. Two major meetings forever changed his life. One was with Sam Sherman, who began Independent International Pictures Corp. They formed a partnership and friendship that lasted until the day Adamson died. …
‘The zenith of Adamson’s checkered career was marked by Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1971). This is his Battleship Potemkin, Citizen Kane and The Rules Of The Game, so to speak. It has everything- a crazed scientist with clicking dentures (J. Carroll Nash), an ax-wielding mute (Lon Chaney Jr.), a curly-haired, nelly Dracula (Zandor Vorkov), a mush-faced Frankenstein monster (John Bloom), another motorcycle gang, once again led by Russ Tamblyn, and Regina Carrol as a showgirl who is slipped LSD. Her freak-out scene alone is worth the price of admission. I defy you to explain the plot to me. And yet it’s so dementedly enjoyable.
‘It’s doubtful that someone like Tim Burton will make an Ed Wood-like film about Al Adamson, even though his career, cast and crew were just as colorful. But what I find really sad is that the guy got murdered and still no one paid tribute to him, which he richly deserves. The contractor- Fred Fulford– was eventually tried, convicted, and sentenced 25 years to life for Adamson’s murder, but there wasn’t much follow-up in the press. Wouldn’t you know that the man cited as making the most inept exploitation movies ever ended up with a death that didn’t even work.’ — Dennis Dermody, Original Cinemaniac
Al Adamson @ IMDb
The Murder Of Director Al Adamson
The Very Strange Murder of DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN Director Al Adamson
Book: Schlock-o-Ram: Films of Al Adamson
Film: THE REEL LIFE & GHASTLY DEATH OF AL ADAMSON (WORKING TITLE)
Al Adamson: Drive-In Monster
Al Adamson’s films @ Fandor
Al Adamson at Brian’s Drive-In Theater
Al Adamson’s Cut ‘N’ Past Chillers, Part One
Podcast: 10: Al Adamson
“Producing Schlock” – The Career of Al Adamson
Gary Kent – The Murder of Al Adamson
Scare Guys: Who Murdered B-List Horror Director Al Adamson?
Do you like doing horror films?
Al Adamson: I did like doing them. To me, it’s fun. I don’t take it seriously.
Sometimes your films become really brutal. There’s a lot of gruesome effects in Brain of Blood. The brain transplant scene: were those effects or did you use actual surgery footage?
AA: No, we went down to the market and got some brains, you know, they sell brains from animals. It was just so simple. It really wasn’t hard to do at all.
I saw you on “The Joe Franklin Show,” and you seemed to favor Satan’s Sadists. Is that your favorite?
AA: Oh, it’s one of the better films I’ve made … and one called Jessi’s Girls is another one. It’s a western. That’s a good one. I think that I’m a better action director than anything.
We interviewed Russ Tamblyn and he said that on Satan’s Sadists, he improvised a lot of his own lines and did some of his own things in the film.
AA: I gave Russ a free hand, that’s why he worked for me. He had retired pretty much at the time, and I found him. I said, “Look Russ, I want you to add what you can to the film.” So in certain situations I let him do what he wanted to do. He enjoyed that. He always worked for me because he was given that freedom. Some of them ruin a picture. It just depends on the type of situation. You can’t do it (improvise) with everybody in every situation. Even with Russ, I’d say, “Hey Russ, that don’t work.”
Did you have to handle a lot of the technical work on your films, or was that in other people’s hands?
AA: The things I worried about most were having a good cameraman and sound man. That’s all I need: me, a cameraman and a sound man and I could make a movie right now.
We were all sad to hear about the death of Regina Carrol. She will remain a cult hero to many of us. What are your memories of her?
AA: Regina was a great dancer, a great actress, and a wonderful person. She went through a lot of pain at the end. There wasn’t much I could do about it, just stay with her. It’s amazing, it’s almost been one year now. She died on November 4th, 1992.
Had she acted for you first, or had you already been married prior to working in films together?
AA: I used her as an actress in Satan’s Sadists, and we started going together right after that. We actually didn’t get married until ’72. We had lived together for a couple of years.
You’ve worked with some of the best cameramen around. Psycho A Go-Go had Vilmos Zsigmond.
AA: Right, and he also did Blood of Dracula’s Castle. He split that with Laslo Kovacs. He did three pictures for me. Vilmos was one of the best, and then of course Kovacs, and then I used Gary Graver, who was Orson Welles’ cameraman. The last one I used was Louis Horbath. He was another Hungarian in the same mold as Zsigmond and Kovacs. I’ve always been blessed with having good cameramen. As I say, a cameraman, sound man, and myself could go make a movie.
You had a stable of actors that you often worked with. Were you all friends at the time?
AA: We always had fun on our sets. We never had fights. We didn’t have time for it. We used a lot of the same people over again because they were dependable. They were reasonable pricewise. We had to watch those sort of things.
What was the general budget of one of your pictures?
AA: We had budgets of usually $200,000 to $500,000. It depended on the picture. Some had more production, some had more time to shoot. I know I didn’t get rich. (laughs)
With the death of the drive-in, where do you hope to see your latest film released?
AA: Well, we planned on shooting it for television and cable, and foreign. The film is about UFOs. It’s called Beyond This Earth. Sam Sherman is producing. Then we’re doing one called Alien Landing, then we’re doing one in Australia called Gold Fever, so that should keep us busy!
18 of Al Adamson’s 31 films
Psycho A Go Go (1965)
‘“Blood of Ghastly Horror” first began life as an unreleased Al Adamson heist feature from 1964 titled “Echo of Terror,” then with new footage of go-go dancers and a brutal stabbing slipped out from Hemisphere Pictures in 1965 as “Psycho A-Go-Go”. As a director, Al Adamson displays a casual disregard for narrative competence, coupled with an inability to even focus the camera in the right direction, often leaving the performers off screen as they spoke. John Carradine is the biggest name in the cast, and is accorded top billing over Kent Taylor, who only enters at the halfway point, once Carradine’s bespectacled scientist bites the dust. Tommy Kirk is the other veteran actor, not what one would expect for a solemn police sergeant, but as the only actor to work with both Al Adamson and Larry Buchanan (“Mars Needs Women,” “It’s Alive!”), deserves a measure of respect for surviving such highs and lows in a screen career soon to fade.’ — B Movie Nation
Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969)
‘An obnoxious Hollywood couple inherits a castle currently being rented by a couple of Draculas, as well as a basement full of chained models, the requisite mentally deficient manservant, the Draculas’ clean-cut serial killer best friend and John Carradine’s butler/High-Priest-of-the-local-moon-cult. Look, you let Al Adamson loose in a California desert castle, you deserve what you get. Actually, this is considerably more fun and only slightly less sleazy than your average Adamson offering (By my count it indulges at least six distinct upsetting sexual fetishes, including girl-on-sea-mammal). Alexander D’Arcy and Paula Raymond are legitimately charming as a mannerly old vampire couple trying to keep up with modern life, and adding a Ted Bundy prototype to the mix enlivens the proceedings in a bizarre sort of way.’ — Ira Brooker
the entire film
Satan’s Sadists (1969)
‘This is, IMHO, the “Citizen Kane” of trashy biker flicks. Al Adamson reached down deep as he was desperate for a hit after a couple of misfires, and was suitably pissed off enough to get down and dirty with no apologies. Russ Tamblyn of “West Side Story” fame, also was on the skids and about to become a footnote to cinematic history, but he delivered as well; and probably as a result, would get a choice part in “Twin Peaks” years later. As Joe Strummer said of the “London Calling” sessions which catapulted the Clash to “the only band that matters” status: “Desperation. I recommend it.” This film reeks of desperation, and gives it that classic “anything goes” drive-in vibe probably many of you out there know and love. Even better, it was released at just the right time, when all the hippie peace and love stuff was giving way to self-absorbed narcissism and the “Me Decade,” which gives it the veneer of a true underground cultural artifact. Al Adamson is a terrible director on the whole, but even a stopped clock gets lucky when the stars are properly aligned. Yeah, that’s a mixed metaphor, but appropriate for Adamson.’ — Greg H, Fandor
Five Bloody Graves (1970)
‘The film is often thought to be of the most violent and perverted of its time (just look at the poster!), but can’t live up this questionable reputation. Sure, there are a few bullet wounds and arrows entering the body, but the effects are reduced by the poor execution and the sexual content is rather tame. Apparently a few explicit scenes were removed to avoid an X-rating and lost forever. A few years later, when censors had become more lenient, Dix and an unknown actress were called back to the studio by Adamson to shoot a couple of new sex scenes that were added to the movie. Today copies vary in length and available nudity: more, less or none at all.’ — Westerns on the Blog
the entire film
Hell’s Bloody Devils (1970)
‘Even by the bottom-feeding standards of director Al Adamson’s usual fare, Hell’s Bloody Devils is unwatchable garbage. Apparently a slapped-together compendium of footage from two (or more) incomplete features, the movie is part biker flick, part espionage caper, part romance, and part brain-melting sludge. Watching this picture is like staring at a TV that changes its own channels, because scenes stop abruptly, characters drift in and out the picture, and the vibe toggles between clean-cut ’60s (some of the footage was shelved for years) and sleazy ’70s. At its weirdest, the movie stops dead when two characters visit a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise for lunch and Colonel Sanders himself enters frame to ask the characters how they’re enjoying their meal.’ — Every 70s Movie
Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970)
‘One of cult movie director Al Adamson’s most popular films, known for its use of weird color effects by “Spectrum-X,” stars horror icon John Carradine as scientist Dr. Rynning, who leads a space journey to a distant planet of blood-sucking vampires intent on contaminating Earth. While exploring the planet, the crew becomes entrapped by warring tribes of primitive vampire-like men and, in order to escape bloody death, must battle snake-men, bat-demons, and the other hideous denizens of this evil world!’ — IMDb
Brain of Blood (1971)
‘Brain of Blood really ought to be a lot more screwed up than it is in order to get the most out of its defiantly outrageous premise. I mean, look at this mess. A dying “Arab” tyrant tries to hang onto his throne by having his brain transplanted into a new body? The new body ends up being that of a freakishly huge, acid-scarred mental defective? It’s all part of some bizarre plot to establish the world’s first scientific dictatorship? Regina Carrol is a secret agent?! This movie was just crying out for some of Adamson’s signature foibles— some brain-damaging dialogue, some sudden and inexplicable detours through what looks for all the world like an entirely different movie, the unexpected appearance of a coked-up Russ Tamblyn at the head of a shabby and unconvincing motorcycle gang. As it is, Brain of Blood is just too damn close to making sense, you know?’ — 1000 misspent hours
Dracula vs Frankenstein (1971)
‘Ok, so I clicked on this movie on ‘On Demand’ on my cable channel thinking it was a Jess Franco movie from the title. It was not. It was an Al Adamson movie from the year before, and that, my loyal, kind, patient readers, has made all the difference. One might think that this is A Tale Of Two Hack-Auteurs or that weirdly paced meta-schlock might be sorta interchangeable but I am here to tell you in a word, no. Certainly Adamson’s ‘Dracula Vs. Frankenstein’ has its heart in the right place: it has a lengthy cameo from Forrest J. Ackerman, an entire part for Lon Chaney Jr. (in his last movie!), J. Carrol Naish (who was in ‘House of Frankenstein’, in His Last Movie) Angelo Rossitto, who was not only in Tod Browning’s ‘Freaks’ but was also Master of ‘MasterBlaster’ from ‘Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome’, Russ Tamblyn playing some hippie punk loser, decapitations, evil scientists, Vegas Extravangazas, Dracula reanimating Frankenstein’s Monster who do indeed have a climactic battle in a forest, losing body parts in the process, unnecessary reverb on literally everything Dracula says, and yet, and yet, this movie is still pretty dull, amiably dull, but dull nonetheless.’ — nathaxnne wilhelmina
the entire film
The Female Bunch (1971)
‘Schlock filmmaker Al Adamson has forever fascinated me- and not just because the director was killed by his contractor and buried in cement in his Jacuzzi. His movies were bad in fabulously entertaining ways. From the inadvertently hilarious Dracula Vs. Frankenstein to Satan’s Sadists, his movies frequently defy description. And he often starred his leading lady in real life, the buxom and glamorous Regina Carrol. In this movie, Carrol (sporting big blonde hair) plays a go-go dancer who is part of a secret man-hating society in Utah. They all look like showgirls and are involved in the drug trade. They also ride horseback to trap, brand and execute their male enemies. A few sequences were shot at Spahn Ranch in California while Charles Manson and his merry band were there. “They treat their horses better than their men!” screamed the ads.’ — Dennis Dermody
the entire film
Angels’ Wild Women (1972)
‘By 1971, the motorcycle genre had just about totally petered out overnight. Originally titled “Screaming Eagles,” this film represents Al Adamson’s last foray into this once familiar territory (SATAN’S SADISTS, HELL’S BLOODY DEVILS). Producer Sam Sherman tried to promote the film in the vein of Jack Hill’s THE BIG DOLL HOUSE, a title which was all the range in the exploitation world at the time.’ — DVD Drive-In
The Dynamite Brothers (1974)
‘Let’s get this out of the way: this film basically sucks. The opening five minutes and the climax are the best stretches of the runtime and by no small coincidence, that’s where James Hong gets the most play as the villainous crime boss, Tuen. Alan Tang plays the Hogan to his Andre as Larry Chin, a heroic transplant from Hong Kong searching for his brother. Chin is picked up by the police for illegally entrering into the country and gets lumped into a squad car with Stud Brown (Brown), a laid-back dude picked up for what we can only assume was a charge of breaking hearts. Or maybe public lewdness, because he can’t seem to keep his shirt buttoned up. Jaywalking? Loitering? How the fuck should I know? Don’t sweat the details (the writers didn’t).’ — fistofblist
the entire film
Mean Mother (1974)
‘As is the case with many of Al Adamson’s films, the production company he worked for, Independent International, acquired a film they didn’t know what to do with, so they hired Adamson to shoot additional scenes and edit them into the existing film to create something marketable. This time it was a Spanish/Italian film called Hombre Que Vino Del Odio about European jewelry smugglers, to which Adamson added a completely unrelated blaxploitation angle with Clifton Davis walking around taking out bad guys while occasionally talking about his “friend” from the other film. Pure garbage that makes Ed Wood look like Orson Welles.’ — Auteur, letterboxd
Girls for Rent (1974)
‘The movie is pretty stupid from start to finish but there are enough silly moments to make it worth viewing. One such moment happens during a “high speed” car chase, which includes one of the cars being a Pinto. Another scene has Spelvin raping a retarded man before shooting him in the head. Being exploitation you can expect a fair amount of nudity by lovely young ladies who probably went to Hollywood expecting to become Monroe but instead find themselves being shown nude throughout the drive-ins in America.’ — Michael Elliott
Blazing Stewardesses (1975)
‘The title of sleaze merchant Al Adamson’s Blazing Stewardesses tells all. So we can skip the plot (an amalgam of every horny-stewardess cliche since Come Fly With Me) and concentrate on the all-star cast. Veterans Yvonne DeCarlo, Bob Livingston and Don “Red” Barry seem justifiably embarrassed by their tawdry surroundings, but they manage to inject a soupcon of professionalism into the show. The film’s top performing honors go to the Ritz Brothers, Harry and Jimmy (last-minute replacements for The Three Stooges). Ignoring the smarmy script and clumsy direction, the Ritzes regale their old fans and win a few new ones by running through some of their classic routines, including the legendary “hero sandwich” bit.’ — Rotten Tomatoes
the entire film
Cinderella 2000 (1977)
‘In the year 2047 (so what if the film is titled CINDERELLA 2000?), the world has been taken over by an authoritarian government that forbids sexual activity, due to population overgrowth. Surrounded by this oppressive atmosphere is Cindy, a dirt-covered maid living with her heavily-accented German stepmother and two stepsisters (a nasty white girl and a surprisingly nice black girl). While crooning a tune about Cinderella after reading a fairy tale book, she is visited by an intergalactic Fairy Godfather, who introduces her to the art of making love by transforming woodland animals into humans in tights and giant masks who grind crotches and perform a musical number. Ugh?’ — DVD Drive-In
Doctor Dracula (1978)
‘What makes the film marginally interesting is one, it’s directed by schlock auteur, the late Al Adamson, two it’s likely the only film in which Dracula meets Svengali, three, it has John Carradine (although what trashy ’70s film doesn’t) and four, it’s another example of Adamson practicing film composites, in which he takes two thin films to make an even thinner film. Adamson and his partner Sam Sherman got their hands on an unreleased film called “Lucifer’s Women.” They shot a vampire tale to mix with it and managed to get a few actors from the earlier film to create a plot that is deliciously nonsensical in the Adamson tradition.’ — Doug Gibson
Death Dimension (1978)
‘In which Al Adamson directs martial arts action with the sort of verve you’d expect, transporting us all into the Snooze Dimension. Jim Kelly and the dorkiest named Bruce Lee clone ever (‘Myron’ Bruce Lee…) do their best, but the action is hardly dynamic with Adamson’s sluggish camera struggling to keep up, while Harold ‘Odd Job’ Sakata sleepwalks towards his pay cheque just out of shot.’ — Laurie, letterboxd
Nurse Sherri (1978)
‘Make no mistake, Nurse Sherri is a bad movie. Really bad, in fact. So bad that if you’re a fan of no-budget schlock-fests with an extra helping of cheese, you may find a lot to like here. Adamson has created a film that is full of plot holes, laughable dialogue, awful padding, and horrible acting. And yet, all that does not mean Nurse Sherri is dead on arrival.’ — Scott W. Davis, Horror Express
the entire film
p.s. Hey. If anyone is interested and located in North America, the cinema site MUBI is hosting/ streaming PERMANENT GREEN LIGHT from now until August 14th. This is a real honor for Zac and me. If you’re a MUBI member, you can now watch the film there. Whether you’re a member or not, you can read an introduction to PGL that Zac and I wrote specifically for MUBI and also read an exclusive and very good essay about the film by the writer Caden Mark Gardner. It’s all here. ** David Ehrenstein, Oh, I think the Paul Is Dead thing is just an attempt to make The Beatles more mysterious and interactive like a videogame. Pure nerd stuff. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. I’ll check the Vigilante Citizen thing even though I guess that means I’ll have to watch the video. I like the Ulver album, but I don’t think it’s even close to being on a level with ‘Life Metal’. ** liquoredgoat, Hi. Yeah, I was really into the PiD thing when it started, but back then it was more about the clues that The Beatles had supposedly littered in their songs and album covers, and there was, in that, something enticingly close to plausibility. But the Faul/Paul thing is so out there and ludicrous, albeit very entertainingly so. Thanks about my short stuff. That’s cool. Have a great weekend. Did you? ** schlix, Hi, Uli! Thanks for the Eileen link. I’ll go there after this is over. Unless I suddenly break my leg or something, I am going to see Kluge talk today at 3 pm. Excited. I guess he’ll probably talk in French, so I’ll probably miss a ton of tonal and detail stuff, but still. You have a lovely weekend too! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, B. I have to chase down that doc when I can. Yeah, ‘Un Femme Douce’ was completely unavailable for a long, long time. I hope you like it. ** NLK, Hi. Oh, well, thank you. Yeah, the dark, creepy underpinnings of the Paul/Faul thing is what keeps me from just rolling my eyes too. ** Misanthrope, Well, do you find Paul circa and pre-1968 or whatever annoying? ‘Cos if so, he’s the culprit not Faul. Yeah, Ziggy becoming an open heart surgeon just didn’t work. I tried, god knows. Well, happy to hear you’re onto a book that does the entire trick for you. Oh, gall stones. Never had those, but I know folks who have. Ouch. I think, if I’m remembering, it’s their exit that’s the real hell. Anyway, I hope they found something else in there, Tinkerbell or something you can sell on eBay for huge bucks or nothing. ** Nik, Yeah, I hope the post had something they didn’t already have. LA is tough if you like winter. Really tough. Especially because you see it happening up on the tops of the mountains all around there. TMS is definitely working with digression a whole lot. I suppose that lead me to want to work with digression in a less meta-, intricately inlaid way. The digressions in the new novel, as it stands, are doing a lot of tricky, under the surface stuff, but they’re seemingly sincere and bald. Well, the new film won’t have a score in any traditional way. I think there’ll again be a lot of quiet and emptiness, but the film centers around a home haunt, and it needs a complicated sound design, and there’s a ghost (who possesses the camera at a certain point), and it needs a distinguishable presence, and it makes terrible, agonised sounds at a couple of points. So she’ll be working on those aspects initially, and then we’ll see if we want to add sounds, noises, tones to the non-home haunt parts. Not sure. But it definitely won’t be a melodic score or anything like that. There’s one actual song in the film that’s already pre-set and part of the narrative/ trajectory — like the Destroyer track was/is in ‘PGL’ — if we can get the rights to that song, although I think that getting that song’s rights might be very tough. Kluge’s films are great, I think. He’s made a ton. I think my favorite is an early one from 1968: ‘Artists Under the Big Top: Perplexed’. Don’t underestimate my interest in your weekend or my ability to glean subterranean values in the seemingly banal and regular. Or something, ha ha. ** Okay. I thought I would take it really easy on you this weekend and give you a chance to watch some semi-elderly B-movies directed by an odd B-movie auteur/hack named Al Adamson. Enjoy if you do. Or I guess if you don’t too. See you on Monday.