In the annals of true crime, there has never been a more macabre case than the brutal murder of DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN director Al Adamson. Like something out of his own no-budget drive-in blood baths, the director was savagely murdered and his body buried beneath a crumbling ramshackle ranch house in Indio, California.
According to published reports, the murderer may have intercepted a script meant for the director… and then followed its blueprint for death!
After Al’s brother reported him missing 5 weeks earlier in June 1995, police dug for 10 hours before they discovered the remains of the PSYCHO A GO-GO auteur. His partially composed body was shrouded in linen and unceremoniously buried beneath a tile floor, where a whirlpool tub had once been.
Adamson had been partnered with Sam Sherman, whose Independent-International Pictures churned out micro-budget genre films aimed at the gruesome horror “Adults Only” drive-in triple features. Often IIP took an older film, stripped off the main titles and then re-titled the film, booking the re-purposed flick in the same venues years later.
Adamson had a penchant for luring older stars whose careers were on the wane, and casting them for marquee value. Russ Tamblyn, who starred in WEST SIDE STORY and toplined the 1969 motorpsycho flick SATAN’S SADISTS, joined Lon Chaney Jr. and J. Carroll Nash (along with Angelo Rossito of FREAKS fame) in DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (1971).
Using Kenneth Strickfaden’s original FRANKENSTEIN electro-whiz-bangs for the mad lab, and music by William Lava, the pastiche was ballyhooed as a return to the great horror fare of yesteryear. It wasn’t.
Of course, there was plenty of screen time devoted to Adamson’s missus, Regina Carrol, who more than lived up to her on-screen rep as “The Freak Out Girl.”
So, with the Adamson oevure in mind, investigators were more than horrified when they found his partly decayed corpse beneath rotting tiles in a scene reminiscent of his film BLOOD OF GHASTLY HORROR, a.k.a. THE FIEND WITH THE ATOMIC BRAIN (among other things).
“A man disappears, then he’s found on his property, dead from blows to the head and entombed in cement… it’s eerie,” Adamson’s partner Sherman said. “There was something unsettling about the place.”
Police soon put out an APB for a suspect: a contractor named Fred Fulford, whom Adamson had hired to fix up the estate. Reportedly, Fulford had more than handiwork on his mind when he allegedly intercepted a script by a frequent collaborator, which he used to blueprint a homicidal scenario.
With what prosecutors depicted as a “popcorn kernel of a brain,” Fulford began to infiltrate Adamson’s life — wearing his clothes, using his credit cards and forging checks. Unsatisfactorily answering police questioning, Fulford fled to Florida in Adamson’s Toyota pickup.He had also shipped two other vehicles, registered to the late horror producer/director. When he was collared by cops, Fulford was wearing an ill-fitting grey suit. Inside the jacket lapel was the actual owner’s name: Al Adamson.
During the bombshell murder trial, a former employee of Fulford was called to testify: Ernesto Perez told jurors that on June 21, 1995, he was summoned by the accused to help remove a Jacuzzi from Adamson’s home. After he and his brother excavated the site, Fulford asked them to return the next day to finish the job.
Perez testified that Fulford wanted them to help fill the hole with cement. When they returned, they saw Fulford hosing the hole down and creating sort of a moat around an object. “There was a hump right in the middle of (the hole),” Perez said. They then filled the hole with cement blocks and a load of cement delivered by a truck that day.
Police Sgt. Jack Anderson told jurors that after removing a layer of Spanish tile and excavating through the cement for hours, they were overcome by the sudden stench of something decomposing. Underneath dirt and a thin layer of cement-like material, they found the remains of a nude body wrapped in an ill-fitting cloth. It was all that remained of Al Adamson.
Deputy District Attorney Paul Vinegrad maintained, based on pathology results, that Fulford had bashed in Adamson’s skull with a heavy object, then dumped his body in the pit and poured four tons of cement over the crime scene. “This really is an overwhelming case of guilt,” Vinegrad said.
The jury quickly agreed, and on March 4, 2000, they convicted Fulford on first-degree murder charges.
Sentencing Fulford to 25 years behind bars, Judge Graham Cribbs called the crime “cold-hearted and calculated,” adding that it was “right out of a script of a horror movie.”
Now you too can behold the awful awesomeness of DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN in all its unsavory glory!