Texas Frightmare Weekend 2011: Angus Scrimm, the Gentleman’s Gentleman
On Saturday, Day Three, before I had my photo op with Clive Barker, the Tall Man himself Angus Scrimm held a Q & A session in the main rooom. I got there early in order to get a front row seat, and I’m glad I did. The room was packed with hundreds of people. Horror fans know that Scrimm doesn’t do a lot of horror conventions. Let’s face it, Scrimm is no spring chicken (he’s gonna be 85 this August), and these conventions are taxing. Scrimm also had a table on the convention floor where he signed autographs and took pictures with his fans. He’s a trooper; he sat there for 5-6 hours each day and met all his fans. (Don Coscarelli was also in attendance and I got both of them to sign my PHANTASM 2 DVD). Scrimm may be 84 years old, but his mind is as sharp as the silver balls he used to throw around at people’s heads!! The man remembers obscure dates and people’s names from decades ago and related a ton of really funny and interesting stories. For example, did you know Scrimm (who’s real name is Lawrence Rory Guy) used to write liner notes on music albums? He wrote the liner notes for the Beatles and in 1974 won a Grammy Award for the liner notes he wrote on the album “Korngold: The Classic Erich Wolfgang Korngold.” Impressive.
When asked if he had any formal acting training Scrimm surprised us all with an emphatic “yes”. We weren’t surprised because he had training, we were surprised with whom he trained with. In his teens he studied drama at USC under William C. DeMille (the older brother of Cecil B. DeMille). He tells us the story that William was for a while the toast of Hollywood and was married to Anna Angela George, daughter of the famous economist Henry George. They were married for almost 30 years, and then in 1929 he dumped Anna and married writer Clara Beranger. Well this was such a scandal that Hollywood shunned him and essentially black-listed and ran him outta town. That’s when he took a teaching job at USC in the drama department. Scrimm accents the story by pointing out that by Hollywood standards that wouldn’t even rate on the “scandal meter by today’s standards!!”
Scrimm was full of great stories and when asked if he’s ever done Shakespeare he told us no but that if we wanted, he would give us a few of Shakespeare’s famous soliloquies. The audience erupted into applause and we settled in to hear Scrimm do Shakespeare (sorry for some of the shaky camera work but I was laughing and clapping as well!!):
What a classic moment!! Then the standard questions are asked: Will there ever be a PHANTASM 5; what’s the next film you’re gonna be in; which is your favorite PHANTASM film; etc … As to a future PHANTASM 5 film he doesn’t have any information and refers us to Don Coscarelli. Would he do another PHANTASM film? He would consider it, but he also points out that the role of the Tall Man is demanding and “I’m no spring chicken.” His next film is in an uncredited cameo in Coscarelli’s new one JOHN DIES AT THE END (which is in post-production and will be out in early 2012). And as far as his favorite PHANTASM film, he responded, “Whichever one I’ve seen most recently.” Scrimm doesn’t have anything bad to say about anyone or any film he’s ever been in (although he does say he regrets the wig he wore in SUBSPECIES). Scrimm is a gentleman’s gentleman and is always eager and willing to meet and talk to all his fans. He loves hearing stories about how he scared the shit out people when they were younger … yours truly being one of them!!
Some of the more interesting questions included someone producing a Tall Man action figure and asking Scrimm how it felt to indeed have an action figure. He said it’s a great honor, especially since it looks more like his favorite actor John Carradine!! Perhaps the funniest question was why in Australia the title “PHANTASM” was changed to “NEVER DEAD.” Well it seems that the year before PHANTASM was made, there was a very popular film made in Australia titled “Phantasm” … and it was a porn flick!! And then Scrimm gives us a show-stopper; perhaps the best moment of the entire 2011 Texas Frightmare Weekend!! When talking about the 2004 film THE OFF SEASON he starred in, someone brought up that he didn’t recognize the song Scrimm sings in that film. Scrimm tells us that there wasn’t enough money in the budget to “buy” a popular country-Western song so he sat down and in a few minutes wrote “Prairie Dog.” He then asks us if we wanna hear it. The crowd explodes and then settles in. Here’s the magical moment:
These are the moments that make a convention!! If I would’ve missed this classic moment I would’ve never forgiven myself.
Finally someone in the crowd asks him whether he likes working in film or theater better. He tells us that he’s enjoyed the few times he’s done theater but that he really “loves film for the sense of immortality” it has. He feels, god willing, that at least some of his films will be popular for the ages and immortalize him long after he’s gone. Well I don’t think Scrimm has anything to worry about. The PHANTASM films alone have already cemented Angus Scrimm forever in the Minds of horror fans everywhere.
Scrimm, once again, proves that horror actors and directors are the nicest celebrities around. When I met Scrimm at his table I sat down to get my picture taken with him and I related my story to him about the first time my brother and I watched PHANTASM. The result: Scrimm scared the shit out of us!! He laughed and said “I get that a lot.” Then I just sat there for about 5 minutes and made some small talk with Scrimm. I’m certainly glad he attended this year’s Texas Frightmare Weekend!!
Here’s that Angus Scrimm action figure that he thinks looks like John Carradine: