Blood & Flesh – The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (2019) [Blu-Ray]

Severin Films has done an amazing job showing movie fans and collectors the generally colorful and interesting body of cinematic work that Al Adamson left behind. While he’s more generally known for his unfortunately terrible murder, Adamson was also, by all accounts, a very nice man who was creative, innovative and had a genuine love for filmmaking and the people he worked with. “Blood & Flesh” successfully takes us inside the life of the man who had a sincere love for entertaining people, and then digs in to how sometimes our good hearts can put us in the company of the wrong people.

“Blood & Flesh” is a wonderful documentary chronicling the accidental career of Al Adamson, who spent a lot of his life making genre films while trying to forge his own legacy in film. Adamson came from a family who starred in films (his dad was silent film star Dennis Dixon), and he sought out to act until one fateful bit role turned him in to a filmmaker. Director David Gregory compiles a slew of archival interviews, as well as interviews the surviving friends, colleagues, and family of Adamson, all of whom assemble a clear picture of who he was. For the most part, “Blood & Flesh” is a very entertaining and unusual documentary that highlights the inherent joy of filmmaking. Adamson, like every filmmaker, sought to make himself a success, and did whatever he could to make it.

Gregory spends a lot of time exploring how Adamson cut corners, got funding for his films, and how he managed to put to work a lot of actors that were forced in to retirement as the business evolved. Some of the brighter spots of the documentary include Adamson’s working with John Carradine, and Yvonne DeCarlo, and how he managed to help them shine in his movies. Adamson had a special working relationship with Carradine who he was able to collaborate with despite his debilitating drinking problem. There’s also the story of how they hired with Lon Chaney Jr. and worked around his inability to speak due to his throat cancer. There’s also a great look at how he worked with auteurs like Vilmos Zsigmond and László Kovács before they earned award winning film careers.

“Blood & Flesh” while being a celebration of Adamson, is also a sad reminder of his terrible fate. After hiring a handy man to repair his house, Adamson went missing for weeks and was found buried and decomposed under his house. “Blood & Flesh” goes in to extensive detail in the final twenty minutes, revealing a pretty gut wrenching look at Adamson’s final days, and heartbreaking fate. That said, “Blood & Flesh” is for the most part a joyful and entertaining look at Adamson’s works, and the legacy he left with his friends and colleagues that lives on.

Featured in the Blu-Ray are four deleted scenes consisting of The Cowboy Life of Denver Dixon, Russ Tamblyn’s Melted TV, Screaming Angels Becomes Angel’s Wild Women, and The Prophetic Screenplay Makes Gary Kent Testify. They are extended versions of what’s in the documentary. There’s also the Beyond This Earth Promo Reel, a look at an unfinished UFO documentary directed by Adamson, which would have mixed actor recreations with real footage.

There’s also the “Blood & Flesh” trailer and an Al Adamson Poster Gallery with 61 stills included. Also featured is the Al Adamson film The Female Bunch from 1971; according to the opening title card, several 35mm prints were used to reconstruct the film since the original camera negative appears to be lost. There’s The Bunch Speaks Out, a fifteen minute feature with interviews with Leslie McRay, Russ Tamblyn, Al Adamson, Sharyn Wynters, John “Bud” Carlos, Michael Ferris, and R. Michael Stringer about the making of the film, the extended scenes feature footage from a longer VHS release of the film, and finally there are two trailers for “The Female Bunch.”