The Movie Waffler Mike’s Strange Cinema Cavalcade - BLOOD & FLESH: THE REEL LIFE AND GHASTLY DEATH OF AL ADAMSON | The Movie Waffler

Sponsor

Mike’s Strange Cinema Cavalcade - BLOOD & FLESH: THE REEL LIFE AND GHASTLY DEATH OF AL ADAMSON

Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson review
A new documentary looks at the bizarre life of exploitation filmmaker Al Adamson.


Review by Mike Vaughn

Directed by: David Gregory

Featuring: Samuel Sherman Stevee Ashlock, Robert Dix, John Cardos, John Bloom, Gary Kent, Greydon Clark, Russ Tamblyn, Vilmos Zsigmond

Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson poster

Sometimes nose-in-the-air critics like to throw around the phrase "They’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel here," but being film fiends, we enjoy getting dirty. This means bravely diving bleeding head first into the toxic barrel of bad cinema. Down there, languishing in its own radio-active goodness, you`ll find the gender bending nightmare land of Ed Wood Jr or the dime store gross-out epics of Andy Milligan. Of course, you`ll also discover the wild, savage often naked and surreal films of one Al Adamson.

Don’t know Adamson's works yet? Well, thanks to Severin Films, it was just announced that a career spanning box set entitled 'The Al Adamson Masterpiece Collection' will feature his grimy work in all its HD glory. Included in the set is this original feature length documentary directed by David Gregory.

Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson review

The film tells the story of Adamson, his crazy adventures in Holly-weird and how he turned his celluloid trash into treasure. Helping tell this story are new interviews with friends and colleagues Russ Tamblyn, Gary Kent and Greydon Clark, as well as archived interviews with actor John Bloom and cinematographer Gary Graver. Probably one of the most amazing interview coups is Oscar winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who shot three films for Adamson early in his career. Of course, we get to hear from the man himself as Blood & Flesh uses the last interview Adamson ever gave. I must admit this gives the film an eerie quality since going in, we know things aren’t going to end well for the cult director.

[ READ MORE: Mike’s Strange Cinema Cavalcade - Tex Avery Screwball Classics Vol.1 ]

Gregory has a lot of experience making documentaries (both short and feature length) and he applies his wealth of experience to craft an unforgettable ride filled with lively interviews that are both well paced and placed. The end result is a focused and fascinating story of Adamson’s prolific career and untimely death. It didn’t take long before I was totally invested in the story that Gregory lays out.

Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson review

Not only is it a well thought out documentary but it's visually interesting as well. Gregory employs visual effects tricks to keep things stylish and brings flat images to life along with great transitions. We also get a fun and very fitting score by Mark Raskin, who has worked on Gregorys other documentaries including Masters of Dark Shadows (2019), Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014) and his segment in the woefully under-loved Theater Bizarre (2011). It's touches like this that makes Gregory one of the best documentary filmmakers within the horror and exploitation genre.

[ READ MORE: Blu-Ray Review - Night Tide ]

I was curious regarding how the film would treat the subject of Adamson’s grisly death. Wisely, the film handles it with a lot of tact, and in a bitter irony (unlike Adamson’s films), it isn’t used for exploitation's sake. It’s a hell of a documentary that makes me feel something as well as educating me, and damned if I didn’t find myself choked up at the end. After all, we spend over one hundred minutes getting to know Adamson, hearing from those who loved him, and the man himself.

Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson review

Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson is an utterly mesmerising and wholly important documentary, and everybody involved should be incredibly proud. The film is available to rent on the following platforms: Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, VUDU, XBOX, VUQuity and InDemand. If you are interested in horror, exploitation and just wild Hollywood stories, this truly is the film for you.






Michael Vaughn is a rabid horror and cult fan who turned that love into a career. He is a writer, blogger and film historian and now author of 'The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema' which Shock Wave Podcast named their pick of the month, and Chris Alexander of Fangoria called “recommended reading.”


His other credits include Scream Magazine, Fangoria and websites like Films in Review and Bloody Flicks(UK). Please follow his Twitter @StrangeCinema65 and Instagram @gorehound_mike.