The Tall Man Cometh

The Tall Man is my latest obsession.

This past weekend I attended a mini film festival at my friend Graham Skipper’s abode. He showed numerous cult horror films. Many of which are deserving of a wider appreciation.

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One of the films that Graham chose to show was Phantasm II. Previous to last weekend I was aware of the Phantasm franchise but had never delved too deeply into it. I’m not sure why. They always looked right up my alley, but circumstances never brought us together, I suppose.

You know how it is. You see a DVD box from across a crowded video rental store or a poster J-peg on a legal, or maybe not so legal, streaming site, and you say to yourself, “Self, I’m going to fucking watch that movie. That looks right up my alley.” But inevitable an avalanche of diversions, cult classics, and trips to the local comic book store eat up your time.

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Needless to say, after the first few frames of Phantasm II, I was hooked. Phantasm is my new favorite horror franchise. From the atmosphere to the grit of the initial entry to the low budget charm of the later installments, Phantasm is the horror franchise that I’ve been waiting years to discover.

I also had the unique experience of watching the out of order, which made things extra creepy cause I didn’t really know what was happening at times. I consumed the Phantasm movies in this order:

Phantasm II

Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead

Phantasm: OblIVion

Phantasm

I’m not sure why I didn’t go back and watch the initial entry that sparked the franchise first, before immediately going on to the third film, but I did. I couldn’t help myself. One of the most interesting parts of the Phantasm films are the endings. The films are structured more like old serials. They’re episodes in a television show. You just have to wait a decade in-between installments. It’s both maddening and exhilarating. The ending of part 3 is particularly wonderful.

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The face of the franchise is Angus Scrimm aka The Tall Man and he is one of the most interesting performers I’ve seen in a long time. I know I’m about forty years late to the game but he really is delightful in the part of the unnamed inter-dimensional grave thief. There’s an understatedness to his at times campy delivery that I find mesmerizing. I realize that’s a contradiction, but it’s true. He straddles that line very well.

The real person to discuss when waxing romantic about the virtues of Phantasm is writer/director Don Coscarelli. The man’s imagination and storytelling prowess are on display at every turn. It’s quite inspiring.

The Phantasm series is the perfect example of a franchise that is both intellectually stimulating, visually exciting, and, at times, shit your pants scary. It’s the perfect cocktail of fun, scares, gore, and action.

The Phantasm series needs a new installment. It needs a fifth, and probably final, entry. I desperately want to see Reggie, Mike, Jody, and the Tall Man on screen one final time. ¬†Phantasm: OblIVion is great, I really love that movie, but it’s not how the franchise should go out. It’s been fifteen years since the last direct to video installment was released. The franchise has a rapid fan base and is in perfect position for a comeback.

You hear what I’m saying, Hollywood Producers?

Make it happen.

For The Furtherment Of The Empire

Let’s take a moment and congratulate Mr Robert Negrete for doing a wonderful job drawing the first issue of Action Hospital. Without his amazing line-work and emphasis on detail there would be no Younger and no Action Hospital. It’s just that simple. He’s a work horse and a talented guy. I’m luck to get to work with him.

I hop that you’ve enjoyed our story so far, and I hope that the next issue will keep you on the edge of your seat in the same way that the first issue did.

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Life is a pretty strange thing. I know that seems fairly obvious but it’s pretty bizarre how things rapidly change, evolve, or otherwise transform in the blink of an eye.

I’ve been working like crazy on movie and comics stuff, as of late. If you’re wondering, Yes, Action Hospital Issue Two is all drawn and currently in the process of being lettered. This one will be a double sized issue coming in at round 18 pages. If you couldn’t tell by the cover, which just went up today, I’m drawing and writing this issue. Robert is hard at work on the third issue, which will feature the return of Younger the Vine Walker. For now we’re going to be following the cast of characters that I’ll be drawing. So, y’know, Boy Detectives. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t deviate away from what you know how to draw.

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In progress cover to Issue 2

This past month has been an insane blur. I worked on a horror movie with some of coolest people I’ve ever met. I mean that literally. Previous to working on this film, I had been feeling tired, worn down, and just generally in a funk. Sure, it was hard work, but I had an amazing time working on this flick.

I suppose I should just tell you a little story, which will put this all into perspective. The first day I was on set, the producer of the film walked up to me and asked if I was ok or if I needed anything. This is unheard of. Producers usually don’t give two shits how you’re doing. They’re freaking out about the budget or about some actor who hasn’t shown up or about how they need a blue shirt for the scene because the wall behind the star is green. Something along those lines. So right out of the gate, I knew that this was going to be a fun job. If the producer is nice and calm that means that even when the shit DOES hit the fan everything will be fine.

Additionally, there was something familiar about this producer. I could swear that I knew her from somewhere but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Over the course of the first day, I had a few different opportunities to chat with her and she was one of the kindest and most honest people that I’ve ever met. I spent the entirety of that afternoon racking my brain attempting to deduce where I had previously made her acquaintance.

Towards the end of the first day I was chatting with the head of my department, a lovely girl named Aimee, and the topic of how nice the producer was came up. ¬†Abruptly, she asked if I was a horror movie fan, and of course I said I was. She asked if I’d ever seen a film called Sleepaway Camp, to which I scoffed that of course I had. I loved Sleepaway Camp. Aimee, with a little glint in her eye, said that Felissa, the producer of our movie, was the star of Sleepaway Camp. And then it all came rushing back to me. Like that scene where Liam Neeson freaks the fuck out at the carnival in Darkman. There it was. I’d been talking to Angela Baker all day and I hadn’t known about it. My head exploded.

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Felissa Rose, mother fucker!

That’s the kind of experience I had. It was so much fun. I got to hang out with Beverly Randolf from Return of the Living Dead, Kim Poirer from the Dawn of the Living Dead remake, and a fine gentleman named Eric Roberts. It was insane. The entire cast was so gracious, so kinda, and completely the opposite of what you’d except. I spent the majority of the shoot desperately attempting to keep my cool.

If you haven’t seen Sleepaway Camp or Return of the Living Dead, do yourself a favor. They’re both wonderful. Dan O’Bannon, the writer of Alien, directed Return of the Living Dead. It’s one of the most influential zombie movies ever made, most people just don’t realize it. You know that age old idea that zombies eat brains? That came from Return of the Living Dead. Go out and watch it, friend.

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Beverly Randolf from Return of the Living Dead!

Movies, man. They’re the best. The absolute best.

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On the writing front I’m working on two different super sweet movie things that I CANNOT WAIT to talk about. I’m so ecstatic about them I’m bursting with excitement. One of the super top-secret things I’m working on is LITERALLY a dream come true. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

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I’ll just leave you with this. I’ve been listening to it on repeat for a good week now. It just keeps getting better every time.