Monday, August 10, 2015

...local horror fans unite for a local legend, The Bowman Body...

Bill Bowman, who became the character The Bowman Body, hosted Shock Theater on WXEX, a local station, in the 1970s. He then went on to host Cobweb Theater on WVIR in Charlottesville, VA from 1977-1979, and Monsterpiece Theater on WNVC in Fairfax, VA in 1985.

I have no idea how I *remember* him considering that I was born in 1974 and I can’t imagine that I would be able to have a memory from when I was a toddler.  I can’t even imagine that I was allowed to stay up that late back then. It’s possible that I watched him closer to 1980 since we could pick up Charlottesville stations. I don’t think we even had our first VCR until the mid-80s so aside from a commercial here and there, and perhaps a local appearance, I am left with a vague memory of Shock Theater.

My dad worked the night shift and as far back as I can remember I tried to stay up late on Saturday nights to watch the late night horror movies. I mostly remember the black and white versions of The Twilight Zone but later we watched Tales from the Dark Side (I still channel the music from the opening in my head and it makes me look behind me!). Dad loved science fiction and horror movies. Because of him or because it is simply in my DNA, I fell for those movies too.
On Saturday thanks to Sean Kotz, who produced a 2011 documentary Hi There Horror Movie Fans!about the Bowman Body, two new episodes were filmed earlier in the day with the help of local artists and horror enthusiasts who came together to make this event possible. Local artist, Arthur Brill of Behind the Curtain, made a reproduction of the original coffin, built the set, and was even able to digitally reproduce a portrait from the original set. A local hearse owner offered up his 1965 ride, and the bakery Sugar Fix Bakery made Bowman Body cookies in the shape of coffins.

That night, I headed out to see the documentary at Ashland Theater. I met Bill Bowman and he was just as gracious as could be. He’s funny and charming. When he came out to greet the audience, he shared stories that weren’t even in the documentary. I think we could have all sat back and listened to him for hours.

The documentary shared how Shock Theater, thanks to The Bowman Body with a ukulele, a borrowed tuxedo, and some white tennis shoes, received better ratings than Johnny Carson. Bowman also told a story about how he got in trouble when those in a funeral procession got confused and followed his hearse to the station instead of following the one with their loved one.

Not only did I enjoy the documentary but yet again I’m super proud that there are so many locals who love horror coming together to bring a little bit more *weird* to The Center of the Universe.


  1. Awesome post. It was great to be such a big part of this event!

  2. I really love the old horror hosts! I wish we still had them. My local host in Seattle was The Count from Nightmare Theatre. I must have watched him in reruns because I was too young when he first aired. The host that I remember the best from when I was a teenager was Elvira. And she is still going strong. It looks like you had a great time. :)

  3. Loved this post! Both the content and the writing are intriguing and fun. :D I am laughing out loud about that mix-up with the hearse. :'D

  4. Great to find others who share your interests! Lobe the hearse and the coffin cookies!