This past weekend, the horror community was shaken by the loss of another one our beloved genre stars, actor Angus Scrimm, best known for his portrayal of The Tall Man in the PHANTASM franchise. PHANTASM creator Don Coscarelli shared the news of Scrimm's passing late Saturday night, saying
Angus Scrimm passed away peacefully tonight surrounded by his friends and loved ones. He was 89 years old. 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. Angus was a terrific actor and an even better friend. He will be missed."
Born Lawrence Rory Guy in 1926, Scrimm accrued more than fifty screen credits during a film career that stretched over more than forty years, appearing in such films as CHOPPING MALL, SUBSPECIES, I SELL THE DEAD, and JOHN DIES AT THE END, as well as several TV shows, including Alias and Masters of Horror.
The actor first went by the name Angus Scrimm in 1979, taking on that moniker for PHANTASM, the film that would make him a horror icon.
As friends and fans have tried to process the loss of Scrimm and paid tribute to him online over the last couple days, the two words I've seen used most often are "terrifying" and "gentleman". The first word is used to describe his amazing performance as the fascinating, creepy Tall Man, while the other is used to describe him in his personal life. Everyone who had the chance to meet Scrimm has said that he was an intelligent, personable, kind man, who loved interacting with his fans at convention appearances.
In addition to his acting achievements, Scrimm also worked at Capitol Records for thirty years, writing the liner notes for many of their releases and even winning a Grammy for the notes on Korngold: The Classic Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
Scrimm was always a welcome presence whenever he would show up on screen, and I'm going to miss getting to see him give new performances. He will always be a regular presence on my screens, though, as many of his works will remain in my viewing rotation.
Before Scrimm passed away, work was completed on the fifth and final PHANTASM film, PHANTASM: RAVAGER, which is currently in post-production and is expected to be released later this year. The wait to see Scrimm play the Tall Man one last time is now more bittersweet than ever, but it does feel quite fitting that what was designed to be a swan song to the franchise will now also serve as a dedication to Scrimm as well.