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14 November, 2011



Year of Release—Film:  2011

Year of Release—DVD:  2011

DVD Label:  Horse Archer Productions

[Ed. Note:  If you happen to be a horror-host with a current program, and would like to see it reviewed here, please contact me at unimonster64@gmail.com.]

Readers who recall my delight with the last effort out of Horse Archer Productions [http://www.horsearcherproductions.com], the superb VIRGINIA CREEPERS: THE HORROR HOST TRADITION OF THE OLD DOMINION, will not be surprised that I’m equally pleased with the latest documentary from the team of Sean Kotz and Chris Valluzzo, the tribute to Petersburg, Virginia’s Bowman Body, Bill Bowman.  For more than forty years now, The Bowman Body has been a northern Virginia institution; an inspiration to horror-movie fans who eagerly tuned in throughout the 1970s and ‘80s to see a rumpled, pasty-face ghoul in a tuxedo and sneakers, band-aid prominently affixed to his bald head, rise up out of his coffin to entertain them with his unique style of homespun humor.

He would invariably greet his viewers with a cheerful “Hi there Horror Movie Fans,” a catchphrase that is the title of Kotz and Valluzzo’s new offering.  Being a devoted fan of Horror hosts in general, and having previously been exposed to the Bowman Body through the aforementioned VIRGINIA CREEPERS, I have been eagerly awaiting the debut of this feature dedicated to Bowman’s character since the first announcement of it, and I must say the wait was worth it.

The format is identical to the earlier documentary, including being hosted by Mr. Lobo, of the nationally-syndicated Cinema Insomnia program.  It features clips of the various shows which Bowman hosted during his career, as well as still photographs and audio clips.  By far the bulk of the documentary, however, is given over to anecdotal interviews with those who worked with Bill Bowman, those who were fans of Bill Bowman’s, those who were inspired by Bill Bowman, and with the Bowman Body himself.  The stories told are fascinating, funny, and informative, and give the viewer a good sense of what it was like to tune in to one of Bowman’s programs.  Some of the footage was previously used in VIRGINIA CREEPERS, but that’s not an issue in a documentary; there’s only so much surviving Bowman footage, and as far as the interviews are concerned, those, like testimony in a court of law, have a value and permanence that outweighs any arbitrary desire for ‘new’ or ‘fresh’ material.

That’s not to say that there’s nothing new here.  Indeed, most of the interviews are new, especially much of the filmmakers’ conversation with Bowman himself.  This provides the viewer with much-needed background on Bowman, and his journey from radio station disc jockey to a television icon who was, in 2005, honored for his “… distinguished career in television broadcasting and for his many contributions to the success of the Legislative Studio for Commonwealth Public Broadcasting …” by the Virginia State Legislature.  It is a fitting tribute to a deserving man—as is this documentary.  I heartily recommend it to all who can still recall the joys of curling up in front of the television set on Friday and Saturday nights, as a dedicated cadre of horror-hosts guided our initial explorations into the world of classic (and not-so-classic) Horror and Science-Fiction movies.

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