The Gore 4 is very sad to report that Angus Scrimm, the horror icon best known for portraying the frightening “Tall Man” in the Phantasm franchise, has died at the age of 89. Don Coscarelli, Scrimm’s longtime director and friend, informed Entertainment Weekly, saying:
“Angus Scrimm passed away peacefully tonight surrounded by his friends and loved one,” Coscarelli wrote, via email. “[His] performance as the Tall Man is a towering achievement in horror film history. He was the last in a long line of classic horror movie stars. He was a terrific actor and an even better friend. He will be missed.”
Angus began life as Lawrence Rory Guy in Kansas City, Kansas in 1926, but moved to California in his teens where he ended up studying drama at USC. He subsequently found work as a writer, for TV Guide, Cinema Magazine and others, and also doing the liner notes on albums for everyone from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles, even winning a Grammy. Angus ultimately worked his way into theater, television and film, first collaborating with Don Coscarelli in 1976 on a feature entitled, Jim, the World’s Greatest. It would be three years later that Scrimm began the indelible role that would make him famous to horror fans the world over, that of the menacing Tall Man in Phantasm (1979). Imposing, mysterious, terrifying and deadly, the Tall Man remains one of horror’s most enduring villains, in a franchise that has continued to stay true, original and fresh in an age when remakes, reboots and re-imaginings are the norm. Angus has portrayed his otherworldly figure through four films, with a fifth, Phantasm: Ravager due sometime later this year.
Scrimm also had roles in a number of other genre films such as Subspecies, Mindwarp, Wishmaster, I Sell the Dead, and Coscarelli’s Masters of Horror episode, Incident On and Off a Mountain Road and his most recent directorial effort, the mind-bending John Dies at the End. Angus also had a recurring role on J.J. Abrams spy thriller, Alias. J.J., a big Phantasm fan, is currently overseeing a high-def restoration of the original film which we’ll see down the road. His love for the franchise is evident in the name of one of the characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Captain Phasma.
Scrimm was a frequent and welcome guest on the convention circuit, appearing at Fangoria’s Weekend of Horrors, Chiller Theater and where the Gore 4 met him above, at Forry Ackerman’s Famous Monsters Convention. He was always kind and generous and most appreciative to his legion of ‘phans’. Fangoria‘s Tony Timpone had this to say:
So sad to learn of the passing of my friend, Angus Scrimm. Of all the people who I met during my long FANGORIA tenure, Angus was by far the nicest of them all. Kind, gentle, generous … he was always there for me and never turned me down for anything. He always showed honest appreciation and gave back tenfold. Back in 1989 when I first met this Tall Man who scared the hell out of me as a 16-year-old boy, I realized that this classy gentleman had a heart as big as the universe and didn’t have a mean bone in his body. I will truly miss him.”
You can also read some more fond rememberances from Fango’s Michael Gingold here on the ‘true gentleman of horror’. Scrimm’s longtime friend, Reggie Bannister, the shotgun-toting ice cream man who co-starred with Angus in all 5 Phantasm films, said, along with his wife, Gigi, that they “are saddened to confirm that our dear friend, colleague and Phantasm patriarch Angus Scrimm passed away. Our hearts are heavy. We cannot say more it is beyond words.”
Angus Scrimm may have left this mortal coil, but his immortal roles will live on for generations to come. We will certainly look forward now more than ever to the fifth Phantasm film later this year, where once again the iconic Tall Man will utter his memorable and terrifying, “Boyyyyyyyyy!!!!”
We’ll leave you with this exclusive Gore 4 shot of three late horror icons from one of their convention appearances: Phantasm’s Angus Scrimm, with Last House on the Left’s David Hess and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Gunnar Hansen.