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Real-Life Terror: The Chilling Murder of Horror Director Al Adamson

The grisly slaying was something right out of a horror movie.

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  • Photo Credit: Crime Feed / Independent-International Pictures

On June 21, 1995, real horror invaded the life of Al Adamson, a beloved cult-film director who made enjoyably schlocky fright fare on the order of Psycho A-Go-Go (1965), Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971), and Blood of Ghastly Horror (1972).

At the time, Adamson, 66, had hired contractor Fred Fulford, 46, to undertake a major refurbishing of the director’s home. During the reconstruction, Fulford was invited to live in Adamson's home. Fulford began stealing from Adamson immediately. Eventually, Adamson caught on to the thievery and confronted Fulford about it. Unfortunately, the contractor had plenty of construction tools on hand with which to respond.

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In a rage, Fulford fatally bludgeoned Adamson. The world lost the filmmaker who, in 1970 alone, gave us Five Bloody Graves, Hell’s Bloody Devils, and Horror of the Blood Monsters. Fulford then tore out an indoor Jacuzzi in Adamson’s home, dumped the director’s body in the hole, filled it with four tons of cement, and tiled over the evidence.

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  • Al Adamson

    Photo Credit: Find a Grave

The gruesome scenario was, indeed, very much like something out of one of Adamson’s hair-raising productions—say, for example, Satan’s Sadists (1969) or Doctor Dracula (1978).

That scare-flick connection gets even weirder: rumor has it that Fulford may have taken inspiration from a movie script sent to Adamson that the contractor read.

During the weeks following the murder, no one saw Adamson, but someone most assuredly was out in public forging the director’s checks, running up his credit cards, and even wearing his clothing. Not surprisingly, the phony Al Adamson was Fred Fulford.

After Adamson’s brother Ken reported Al missing, police questioned Fulford. The contractor gave some shaky answers and took off fast, fleeing to Florida in a Toyota truck that had belonged to the maker of Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1966) and Angels’ Wild Women (1972). Prosecutors later described Fulford’s post-homicide behavior as the workings of a popcorn kernel-sized brain.

A laborious search of Adamson’s home unearthed the director’s remains, and an APB went out for Fulford’s arrest. Even after he was nabbed, four years of delays followed before Fulford’s trial. Among the factors slowing things down was the process of extraditing Fulford from Florida, and the suspect, at one point, insisting that he represent himself in court.

Related: The Shocking Murder of William Desmond Taylor in Hollywood’s Silent Era

Through it all, Fulford denied any foul play. Instead, he insisted he just thought Adamson had taken a trip, something the man regularly didHe did, however, admit to raiding his dead employer’s checkbook, saying, "I was wrong. I should not have done that."

The jury did not take long to deliver a guilty verdict.

Upon sentencing Fulford, Judge Graham Cribbs called the crime "cold-hearted and calculated" and added that it seemed to be right out of the script of a horror movie.

Memorializing the unique talent who crafted Half Way to Hell (1961), Mean Mother (1974), and Blazing Stewardesses (1975), Al Adamson’s dear friend and film-biz partner Sam Sherman said:

“A man disappears, then he’s found on his property, dead from blows to the head and entombed in cement–it’s eerie ... Al was a sweet, nice, hard-working person, and what was done to him was despicable.”

Al Adamson may have died tragically and in grotesque fashion, but his cinematic canon—which includes Lash of Lust (1975), Black Samurai (1977), and Death Dimension (1978)—will live forever.

Read more: Investigation Discovery; Los Angeles Times; New York Times; Blumhouse; Sword and Scale; Desert Sun

This Story Was First Published on Crime Feed. 


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Featured promotional still of Al Adamson in "Horror of the Blood Monsters": Crime Feed / Independent-International Pictures; Additional photo: Find a Grave