It’s with a profound kind of sadness that I type this: the horror community has lost a larger-than-life icon — Angus Scrimm, known to fans everywhere as the Tall Man, has passed away at the age of eighty-nine.
Scrimm, born Lawrence Rory Guy, started out in theater in USC, but made more of a splash in his earlier years in entertainment as a writer of album liner notes for such notable musicians as The Beatles, Arthur Rubinstein, Itzhak Pearlman and Frank Sinatra. He even received a Grammy award for his work in this field.
After appearing in the Corman-produced debut film of Curtis Hanson Sweet Kill and alongside Tab Hunter in the early slasher Scream Bloody Murder, both in 1973, he met a young Don Coscarelli and appeared in his 1976 drama Jim The World’s Greatest, playing the titular character’s abusive father. Coscarelli then asked him to play the villain in a horror film he was working on, alongside other stars of Jim The World’s Greatest Reggie Bannister and Michael Baldwin.
The rest, of course, is history — in the now classic Phantasm, Scrimm created the role of the seemingly indestructible and overpoweringly intimidating “Tall Man”, and carried that role out through three sequels over nearly forty years, with the fourth, Phantasm V: Ravager, yet to be released.
During the intervening years, he established himself throughout the genre with appearances in films like Subspecies, The Off Season, Coscarelli’s film John Dies At The End and Masters of Horror episode Incident On And Off A Mountain Road, and recently a cameo in Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story, among other appearances. Besides horror, he exercised his acting talent in science fiction and fantasy films like The Lost Empire and Mindwarp (the latter co-starring with Bruce Campbell), and tried his hand at comedy (and horror-comedy) in Munchie Strikes Back and I Sell The Dead — he even parodied his iconic Phantasm role in the 1989 comedy Transylvania Twist.
It is, however, the Tall Man that he will forever be known for, but despite his penchant for the towering, frighteningly evil being, Scrimm was a very generous, gentle and friendly man; this is evident in his many interviews, commentaries, and convention appearances that he maintained despite his advancing age — he carried himself with class and grace until the very end.
From his co-stars and filmmakers he’s worked with to the many fans he’s spoken and corresponded with, you hear nothing but praise for his kindness and appreciation.
I myself had the privilege of meeting him just last year, and found his warmth and excitement at meeting fans refreshing and gracious; I’m very thankful that I had the opportunity.
Fare thee well, Angus Scrimm…you leave behind a legacy that will live in our hearts, and a creation that will forever haunt our nightmares.
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