Happy Birthday Angus Scrimm: Remembering Phantasm’s The Tall Man


After losing the horror icon, we’re remembering Phantasm’s The Tall Man. Join us as we celebrate what would have been Angus Scrimm’s 91st birthday.

You’re in your home, but you’re not alone. Something darts by you, creating a sound in the air like something out of a small appliance. Gleaming as it passes by a small desk lamp, a floating sphere moves around you, knocking over everything in its path. The halls are dark, refusing to cast shadows on the walls which hold it up. In the distance, half-sized creatures make their way towards your house in stunning fashion. And behind them, a tall dark man approaches wearing attire only fitting of a funeral — The Tall Man is coming.

In the late ’70s, horror is at the tail end of the decade’s film renaissance. With film’s like Bob Clark’s Black Christmas, Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and John Carpenter’s Halloween leading the way, a micro-budget film is in its heyday. And in the summer of 1979, horror is about to add another to the list.

Don Coscarelli’s ‘Phantasm’ — Courtesy of New Breed Productions Inc.

With its bizarre story of shrunken ghouls and alien domination, the film is called Phantasm. Featuring two brothers, and one laid back ice cream truck driver, the tale is as classic as they come. Revolving around shrinking dead bodies into slaves and sending them through a portal, Phantasm pits the three against a force they never expected. But chances are, if you’re at the site, you know how important the classic is — and how iconic it’s boogyman truly is.

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Today marks a bitter sweet celebration. While he’s not with us, today would have been the 91st time Angus Scrimm would blow out those birthday candles. Playing the immortal Tall Man, the man is a legend who we’ll be celebrating for years to come. And I imagine he’ll still be celebrated when I’m, and everyone reading this, long gone. But what makes Scrimm’s performance in the ’79 classic, as well as the entire franchise, so great? Fear feigns, I don’t thing I can truly sum it up in words, but let’s do this.

To start, Scrimm gives The Tall Man some brilliant screen presence. From the time he enlightens Jody about the start of the ceremony, you’re wondering where he is — because you’re terrified. With piercing eyes, every line and every moment featuring Scrimm is amazing. He truly helps the film get into the annals of horror, and I imagine, without Scrimm the film wouldn’t be as loved as it is.

Also, the man was a consummate professional. I’ve heard many times from many people that Scrimm never complained, not even during when he ended up in the makeup chair. And, some say he would even help out on the set and provide guidance to the less experienced actors and to a young Don Coscarelli. Sure, being kind doesn’t make you a screen legend alone, but it does make you a legendary person.

After giving fright fans so much throughout his legendary career, Angus Scrimm left this earth Jan. 9, 2016. While we’re sad that he’s gone, we’re still celebrating his life on his birthday. He’s an icon who should be hailed and respected in our community — he certainly is. We miss you Mr. Tall Man, and we always will. Happy Birthday, rest in peace.

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Love ‘Phantasm’? Missing the immortal boogyman? Let the other silver ball buffs know what you think in the comment section below.