The horror world has lost a big one. Angus Scrimm, the man who gave the world nightmares as The Tall Man in the Phantasm series, actor in dozens of classic fright films, and winner of a Grammy for best liner notes (!!!) has died at the age of 89. Now is as good of a time as any to revisit his freakiest moments.
“You play a good game boy, but the game is finished, now you die.”
There are few creepier villains in the lexicon of horror than The Tall Man. First introduced in 1979, the character that came to define Scrimm’s career was also the first one to teach me to think in portals before Portal, and was the first to prove that a single raised eyebrow was worth a thousand words before The Rock dominated the WWE.
While some may consider Jason, Freddy and Michael Myers the kings of 70’s and 80’s horror, an appreciation for Scrimm’s fantastic work as The Tall Man has manifested in creepy action figures, and constant spewing of “Boyyyyyyyyy” (at least in my social circle).
The Phantasm movies were brilliant because they were unlike anything else that was out at the time. The classic movies of that era were grounded in a hyper-reality in which only the superhuman antagonists armed with blades had a chance (despite always losing). Phantasm was supernatural, and difficult to predict, thus providing true horror instead of just jump scares.
The Walking Dead’s Greg Nicotero can probably explain it best:
Scrimm went on to star in five Phantasm movies as the main antagonist in a tiny suit, and his flying orb (as well as various other mortician’s tools) racked up dozens of kills over the years.
Now that he’s gone, it’s a sad day for the horror community. Thankfully, we have Phantasm 5, or Phantasm: Ravager to look forward to later in 2016. It’s almost appropriate that The Tall Man haunts us after Scrimm has vacated the mortal world.