Al Adamson made wild movies and lots of them; his work ethic was exemplary. They weren’t conventionally good, but they were chockablock with blood, beasts, babes, and bizarreness, tailored to a tough audience: grindhouse/drive-in habitués whose mantra was, “Entertain me—I dareya.” Born into the business—both parents acted and his father made B-movies—Adamson excelled at penny-pinching, ballyhoo, and striking while the iron was hot. Production schedules were short and paychecks low, yet among the many collaborators interviewed for the documentary Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson, the dominant tone is affection, tempered with indulgent exasperation and sadness at his untimely demise. Severin’s exhaustive box set features horror movies, westerns, and biker pictures alongside hybrids like the candy-colored musical/sex comedy Cinderella 2000 (1977) and the blaxploitation/martial arts movie Black Samurai (1976), plus copious extras, including trailers, commentaries, interviews, and TV spots that evoke the bygone era and niche within which Adamson flourished.
Maitland McDonagh is the author of four books, including Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento.
Here and elsewhere: the philosopher-turned-filmmaker joins for a conversation about the making of his debut film, which explodes conventions of biography and nonfiction for a uniquely collective portrait of trans life