July 2, 2015
Most horror movie fans of a certain age have fond memories of staying up late to watch their favorite local horror host. In particular, the state of Virginia had a wealth of these hosts, and towering above all others was Bill Bowman, aka the Bowman Body. The Bowman Body was my host. Bill Bowman portrayed the character onscreen for over a decade and a half in three different markets, starting way back in 1970 with the debut of what would ultimately become Shock Theater on WXEX TV 8. Sadly, as was often the case with these locally produced programs, virtually nothing remains of the original Shock Theater save for less than twelve minutes of footage and the fond memories of its fans. It stands as good news of the highest order then that the Bowman Body is about to make good his return with two all new episodes of Shock Theater to be released on DVD in the fall of this year.
Documentary filmmaker Sean Kotz of Horse Archer Productions is helping to facilitate the triumphant return of Shock Theater, with plans to film the two new episodes this summer for release in October. The episodes will feature The House On Haunted Hill (1959) starring Vincent Price and Horror Hotel (1960) starring Christopher Lee, with the beloved Bill Bowman returning as The Bowman Body to host. Both episodes are already available for pre-order at www.thebowmanbody.com, either individually or as a pair, with all proceeds going toward financing the production. Fans can also purchase caps, mugs, and posters featuring The Bowman Body at the website's gift shop, as well as DVD copies of Kotz's Hi There Horror Movie Fans! The Bowman Body Documentary and Virginia Creepers: The Horror Host Tradition Of The Old Dominion.
Regular readers of the Dog Farm will know that it's unusual for me to actively solicit support for projects, but this one is just too near and dear to my clogged and blackened heart not to do so. Bill Bowman first appeared to host Shock Theater only two months after I was born, and some of my earliest memories of - well, anything, really - revolve around staying up late at a wildly inappropriate young age to watch the Bowman Body. Bowman later hosted Cobweb Theater on WVIR in Charlottesville, and it tickles me shitless that one of a very small handful of clips that still exists shows Bowman reading a fan letter from yours truly and then showing a drawing I sent with the letter. I was all of seven years old at the time. It was bigger than getting a personal shout out from Santa Claus.
Pre-orders are funding this project, so order your new Shock Theater episodes now. If you're unfamiliar with the Bowman Body, you can right that heinous wrong by buying either - or both - of Sean Kotz's documentaries to bring yourself up to speed. I own both, and they're well worth your time and money. If you've got youngsters who've never seen a horror host, here's a chance to introduce them to one of the legends. I guarantee these new episodes of Shock Theater will be the highlight of your family's Pre'Ween viewing this October. I can hardly wait...