Sunday, January 11, 2009

watch horror movies - keep america strong

that was the tag line of the host of creature features who started his b-movie horror show both in sacramento and later in the bay area in the late 1960s and kept at it until his last broadcast in sacramento in 1981.

i read yesterday that the host bob wilkins died last week at the age of 76. wilkins suffered a long bout with alzheimer's disease. i have written about wilkins before and how much his show influenced me when i was only a lad. wilkins was unique among horror hosts as he never looked the part of the eccentric mad scientist or ghoulish monster that was common among horror programming on local stations thru out the u.s. rather, wilkins donned conservative suits, wore thick eyeglasses and spoke in a calm mild manner. his only prop was a huge stogie that he kept in his hand during the whole broadcast of his show. to me wilkins looked a lot like woody allen and for a while i thought he was woody allen.

wilkins was also unique in warning his audience that the movies he screened were simply awful and that they would do well to change the channel. he even read from the tv guide so we could watch something else. as for the audience who did stick around for his broadcasts, like me, wilkins would brandish a gentle derision for us masochists.

i could say it was all his fault. but it wasn't. i was hooked on bad movies the moment my parents took me to the drive-ins. it was wilkins that did compound my love for these horrible movies. his guests ran the range from boris karloff, mark hamill, i think tom savini, and many more. his sets looked like any horror geek's bedroom. and his theme song was this goofy, high, shiny riff that sounds almost like a marching band and not what you'd expect from a show called creature features.

horror host programming is long gone. we have revivals every now and then but nothing can compare to ramping up, or in my case taking a nap during the day because my parents knew i'd be up all night watching the show [and i'm talking very early '70s when i started watching bob wilkins]. it was a gift and an occasion for excitement.

bob wilkins, rest in peace.

below is the intro to an episode, i'm not sure what year but i guess it is either 1977 or 1978 because of his guest, of creature features.


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