Friday, October 29, 2010

Creature Feature

Between 1970 and 1973, also known as my pre-teen into early teen years, I couldn't wait for 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night. That is when Creature Feature aired on channel 4, WSMV, in Nashville. At exactly 10:30, an announcer would come on and say,
"Each of us carries upon his shoulders this bony sarcophagus, the grinning face of death. Within it resides the human brain, encompassing within its pulsating grey mass the totality of the cosmic consciousness. What a delicate instrument; capable of thoughts of inexpressible beauty, but often enslaved in mindless terrors by monstrous horrors that the mind cannot fathom, and indeed, horrors that may not exist except within the bony confines of the human brain box. This is Creature Feature... exploring the realms of the unknown. And now, from deep within the catacombs beneath our studios, here is your master of terrormonies, Sir Cecil Creape."
Sir Cecil (pronounced ses-cil) Creape was creepy. As the announcer was introducing the show, Sir Cecil would descend from a stone staircase to the sounds of water dripping ever so slowly. When he finally reached the floor of his dungeon, in an unmistakable droll, Sir Cecil would say, "Did someone call?" Then he would look into the camera and say, "Oh, there you are!" 

The dungeon, that was supposedly deep beneath the studios of Channel 4, had rock walls and a large bookshelf, on which rested a few books, a skull, and a framed picture of Floyd Kephart, political analyst in Nashville during the seventies. For some reason the protrayer of Sir Cecil (Whom I will reveal in a minute) thought it was funny to have a picture of Floyd on the mantle, and would refer to Floyd from time to time with such jokes as "Suffering Kepharts," or "That is almost as frightening as Floyd Kephart!"

Sir Cecil was an odd looking character; a short, round little fellow, bald on top with just a bit of hair on the sides. He wore a dark blue cape with a huge purple collar and a chain mail tunic. He had a hump back and walked in a slow, lurching style. He had a large scar across his forehead and wore a monocle in one eye. He wore a set of deformed teeth and always carried a strange looking lamp in one hand

Sir Cecil Creape was actually Russ McCown, a film editor for WSMV. He had a long history of camera work and film editing - In fact, he was the person who shot the very first color commercial in Nashville in 1956. Russ got the name of Sir Cecil from Cecil B. DeMille, the lgreat actor/director of such movies as "The Ten Commandments." He later described his character as a cross between the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Oliver Hardy.

Something else I discovered later on is that one of the main writers of the show was Pat Sajack, star of Wheel of Fortune. Sajack was an announcer and part-time weatherman at WSMV during my childhood.

Wait, I hear the steady drip, drip, drip, drip of water.

"Did someone call?"
(Below are a two Creature Feature segments.  I hope they creep you out just like they did me when I was a child.)


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