Director: Don Coscarelli
Stars: Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, Reggie Banister, Kathy Lester, Angus Scrimm
With 1979’s Phantasm, writer-director Don Coscarelli introduced the masses to one of horror’s great unsung villains: The Tall Man. Played by the gangly and creepy-looking Angus Scrimm, Coscarelli’s bad guy doesn’t belong in the same lane as Jason Voorhees, Leatherface, Michael Myers, and Freddy Krueger—he’s a more ethereal presence, controlling his dwarf minions and zombie army from the comfort of a mausoleum.
To great effect, Coscarelli sparingly inserts The Tall Man into Phantasm, keeping him off screen for most of the film. But when Phantasm's Tall Man does pop up to scare the ever-living piss out of you, he does so exceedingly well. Case in point: the film's best moment, a dream sequence in which the teenage protagonist, Mike (Michael Baldwin), opens his eyes to find the Tall Man hovering over his bed. Freddy Krueger isn't the only one worthy of that "never sleep again" reputation. —MB