Monster Sketch Monday – The Tall Man from ‘Phantasm’

“You play a good game, boy, but the game is finished. Now you die.”

I love the original Phantasm. It’s a weird movie, and not for everyone, but it’s unique charms won me over early on in my horror movie watching and it remains a favorite. I’ve gone on about it in a review here, if you’re interested, but we’re not really here for the movie.

No. We’re here for the TALL MAN.

Played with eerie and intimidating perfection by Angus Scrimm in all of the Phantasm films, the Tall Man made an immediate impression on me as a young man. I was already suspicious of morticians (who chooses to work with dead people?) and everything about him just screamed “bad dude!” That he could lift coffins all by himself and change into a beautiful woman when it suited was just odd icing on a strange cake.

I always preferred the eerie and mysterious version of the Tall Man from the early films. Somehow I just didn’t care where he came from or if he was human at first. If you’ve watched the series you know that he WAS normal – well, as normal as morticians get – and it was Jebediah Morningside’s interest in the world of the dead that led him to creating the first portal, which changed him utterly.

I didn’t like it much when they gave Pinhead a backstory either.

Angus Scrimm got the job of playing the bad guy in Don Coscarelli’s “funeral home horror movie” because, according to Coscarelli, he was able to scare children just by arching an eyebrow. I have to admit, it scares me when he does it as well.

The Tall Man has an array of abilities – not the least being an ability to come back from the dead – but I was always non-plussed by the bug thing. In the first film Mike severs a finger (that keeps moving in a bed of yellow pus) and at some point it changes into a large, sharp-toothed insect. What the heck is up with that?

So what about you? What’s your favorite iteration of our odd undertaker?

Author: Bob Cram

Would like to be mysterious but is instead, at best, slightly ambiguous.