Angus Scrimm, best known for his role as the “Tall Man” in the Phantasm horror films, died on Saturday, according to EW. He was 89.
The news of the veteran actor’s death was confirmed to EW by Don Coscarelli, who directed Scrimm in the Phantasm movies, beginning with the first film released in 1979.
Here’s what Coscarelli emailed to EW about Scrimm:
“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.”
Born in Kansas City, Kansas, Scrimm started out writing and editing for TV Guide and other publications, and wrote album liner notes, going on to win a Grammy Award in 1974 for his notes for Korngold: The Classic Erich Wolfgang Korngold (credited as Rory Guy — his birth name is Lawrence Rory Guy), according to the LA Times, who noted that he struggled for years as an actor.
While Scrimm first collaborated with Coscarelli on 1976’s Jim, the World’s Greatest, the 6’4″ actor made a name for himself in the director’s 1979 feature Phantasm as the Tall Man, one of the best villains in horror film history. The actor went on to play the role in the sequels, including the upcoming fifth (and reportedly final) installment Phantasm V: Ravager, coming out later this year.
In the Phantasm films, the well-dressed, relentless Tall Man became known for his utilization of “Sentinels,” deadly metallic flying spheres that attach to his victims and drill into them. The time-traveling, hard-to-kill Tall Man also has the ability to reanimated corpses into his own personal zombie dwarf minions. He was also found of revealing to his victims where they go when they die with his catchphrase, “You think when you die you go to heaven. You come to us!”
Scrimm worked steady over the last few decades, appearing as Doctor Quint in 2008’s I Sell The Dead; as Buddy in Coscarelli’s 2005 episode of TV’s Masters of Horror (“Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”), and was the narrator in 1997’s Wishmaster. He also had a reoccurring role on J.J. Abrams’ television series Alias as an SD-6 agent.
Abrams’ Bad Robot production company is currently working on a 4K restoration of the original Phantasm that will get a DVD and Blu-ray release, per EW (Abrams is such a diehard fan of Phantasm that he named Gwendoline Christie’s character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens Captain Phasma as a tribute to the horror film.)
While Scrimm might not be as well known as his contemporaries, his performances were noteworthy, earning him a spot right up there with other late horror greats.
RIP Angus Scrimm
August 19, 1926 – January 9, 2016