Sprowls

Washington resident Erik Sprowls is seeking to resurrect “creature features” with his own program.

Anyone who is of a certain age and spent too much of their childhood in front of a television set will probably wax nostalgic about Saturday afternoons watching horror and monster movies on TV.

Back in the 1960s or 1970s, kids who probably should have been outside burning off calories were instead lolling in their living rooms, taking in a slew of horror and monster movies. The menu usually consisted of Godzilla or King Ghidorah ripping apart Japanese cities, Vincent Price bringing the gothic tales of Edgar Allan Poe to life and decidedly Z-grade fare like “Attack of the Mushroom People” and “Plan Nine From Outer Space.” The hosts were caterwauling characters like Sir Graves Ghastly in Detroit or “Chilly Billy” Cardille in Pittsburgh.

Washington resident Erik Sprowls is seeking to resurrect the spirit of those “creature features” with his own program, “Dead and Buried Treasures.” It’s been picked up on a number of public-access cable channels throughout the region, and though it’s not yet being broadcast in Washington, it is available in Bethel Park, Brownsville, Peters Township and Uniontown.

“The show is really starting to take off,” Sprowls said. “There’s quite a bit of nostalgia associated with it. People can watch the movies they grew up with.”

The program is hosted by the 54-year-old Sprowls, who adopts the character Capt. Calico Drake, a pirate who growls through introductions to the movies, and rattles off trivia questions and otherwise clowns around. The movies he uses are all part of the public domain, so he doesn’t need to pay for the right to show them, and he records his portions of “Dead and Buried Treasures” in his own home.

“It’s a labor of love, he said. “I like doing it because it’s fun.”

Sprowls brings a great deal of behind-the-scenes television production skills to “Dead and Buried Treasures.” He has taught television courses at a string of colleges and universities, including California University of Pennsylvania and Bethany College in West Virginia, and was news director at WTRF-TV in Wheeling, W.Va.

Part of the impetus to get “Dead and Buried Treasures” off the ground is the feeling he wanted to initiate a creative endeavor of his own after helping nurture the work and careers of others.

“I need to do something for me for just a little bit,” he said.

The idea for the pirate character sprang from trips Sprowls has made to the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival. When he saw the other performers at the festival, he decided to get in on the action, got a pirate costume together and joined in. From there, he said he thought, “I need to make this into a show.”

He pointed out, “It’s challenging. TV is not easy. It’s complicated.”

Some of the titles that have been part of the lineup for “Dead and Buried Treasures” include the original “Night of the Living Dead,” the British horror offering “City of the Dead,” and “Chopping Mall,” a 1986 cult film about security robots going out of control at a shopping center.

“Dead and Buried Treasures” airs at 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

For more information, visit the program’s Facebook page, facebook.com/pg/Dead-and-Buried-Treasures.

Staff Writer

Brad Hundt came to the Observer-Reporter in 1998 after stints at newspapers in Georgia and Michigan. He serves as editorial page editor, and has covered the arts and entertainment and worked as a municipal beat reporter.

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