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|“||You play a good game boy, but the game is finished, now you die.||„|
|~ The Tall Man to Mike Pearson in Phantasm.|
|“||You think that when you die, you go to Heaven? You come to us!||„|
|~ The Tall Man to Father Meyers in Phantasm II.|
|“||"It's never over."||„|
|~ The Tall Man in Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead.|
|“||"Now this won't hurt a bit. Well, maybe just a little bit."||„|
|~ The Tall Man in Phantasm IV: Oblivion.|
The Tall Man is an immortal undertaker and the main antangonist in the 5 Phantasm movies.
He was portrayed by the late veteran actor Angus Scrimm.
The Tall Man appears as a tall (hence his name), white haired man. The Tall Man also has a habit of raising one eyebrow and making other facial expressions, these facial expressions have become an icon of the character. The Tall Man is always seen wearing a black tuxedo suit, especially for furnary occasions.
HistoryRelatively little is known about the Tall Man. Once upon a time, he was a kind-hearted soul named Dr. Jebediah Morningside, an ordinary mortician who served as a medic for the Union Army during the American Civil War. Until he was experimenting with inter-dimensional travel and studying the connection between the world of the living and the realm of the dead. He does this to learn the mysteries of life and death, even to achieve immortality. After perfecting a machine that would allow him to travel between worlds, he stepped through the gateway. Upon his return he was no longer Jebediah, but the cold and evil being known to Mike Pearson and his friend Reggie as the Tall Man. It can only be speculated that while in a different dimension Jebediah's body was possessed by another intelligence, or that his physical likeness has been assumed by some otherworldly, evil entity while killing off the original man. It might also be that his experiences changed him radically.
The Tall Man's purpose is to become the Lord of the Dead. He moves from town to town, first becoming the undertaker of that town and secretly removing the corpses from the graveyards and mortuaries. However, he is not content to just steal the already dead, but will soon kill the town's living population to add their numbers to his collection. The dwarf-like creatures he creates from the bodies of the dead serve him in our world, and he also transports them back to his own dimension. It is possible that he uses them as slave labor for his own world, the same way he uses his two legion of other undead minions called the Gravers and the Demon Troopers. The dwarfs were revealed to be byproducts of the process by which the Tall Man creates the Sentinel Spheres, which involves compacting the body and placing the brain into a metal casing. The Sentinels are used in his assaults against the living. So far he has not revealed any grand schemes for world conquest, and he tends to plunder only small, out-of-the-way towns; he is never shown invading large cities. And the towns he does plunder always seem to have an explanation for why the town's population is missing, such as a toxic waste spill. The Tall Man is a cold psychopathic traveler who explores worlds and knows all that is unknown while he destroys lives and commands his legion of the undead.
Powers and Weaponry
The Tall Man has many superhuman powers, such as superhuman strength, telekinesis, and many others. The Tall Man has been seen to lift a grown man with one hand, take away an object from a person's hand with his mind, etc. The Tall Man's signature weapon are Sentinel Spheres, flying silver spherical objects (also known as "Spheres" and "Sentinels") that conceal many weapons inside of them, such as drills, lasers, saws, and many more. The spheres contain the brains of the dead bodies that he crushes down into the zombie dwarves, his dwarfish undead slaves that came from a hellish dimension that he first travelled to. He also psychically and easily controls Gravers and Demon Troopers.
After the death of their parents, 24 year old musician Jody Pearson is raising his 13 year old brother Mike in a small town disturbed by the mysterious deaths of its citizens. Reggie, an ice cream vendor, joins the brothers in their suspicions that the local mortician, dubbed "The Tall Man", is responsible for the deaths. Mike relays his fears to a fortune teller and her granddaughter about the possibility of Jody leaving town, and Mike in the care of his aunt along with the suspicions of The Tall Man. Mike is shown a small black box and told to put his hand into it. After the box grips his hand, Mike is told not to be afraid and as the panic subsides, the box relaxes its grip. The notion of fear itself as the killer is established and is what propels Mike towards his final confrontation in the film with The Tall Man.
Mike is pursued by minions of the Tall Man, zombie dwarfs made from the bodies of the recently deceased, and tries to convince his brother of what is happening.
After convincing his brother and Reggie, they find a strange white room with containers in the mausoleum. There is also a gateway to another dimension or planet that Mike enters briefly where he sees the dwarfs that have hunted him through the movie being used as slaves. While trying to escape the Tall Man, Reggie is killed. Mike and Jody barely escape. They devise a plan to lure the Tall Man into a local deserted mine shaft and trap him inside. After doing so successfully, Mike wakes with a start in his house, laying by the fireplace with Reggie sitting next to him.
Reggie explains that Mike was simply having a bad dream, something that was common since Jody died in a car crash. This implies that the entire movie has been a dream wherein Mike was trying to prevent Jody from leaving. Mike goes into his room where the Tall Man is waiting and pulls Mike through his bedroom mirror.
Picking up where the first movie left off, the Tall Man and his minions attempts to take Mike but Reggie manages to save Mike and turns on the gas with the fire place on and blows up the house killing the Tall Man's minions.
Six years later, the film introduces Liz Reynolds (Paula Irvine), a young woman with a psychic bond to Mike Pearson and the Tall Man that manifests in the form of prophetic nightmares. After she awakens from one, she rifles through the pages of her dream journal, which includes drawings detailing characters and events from the first film; during this, she recalls a vision that acts as a flashback that picks up immediately where the first film ended: after the Tall Man's minions attacked Mike through the mirror, Reggie heard the commotion and ran upstairs to his aid, where he found the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) and a dwarf Lurker dragging him out. He attempted to procure a shotgun, but while searching for ammunition, he was attacked by Lurkers and was forced to flee through a laundry chute, although he managed to surreptitiously snuff the pilot lights on the stove to feed gas into the house beforehand. Once upstairs, he dodged the Tall Man and rescued Mike, but a team of Lurkers ascended upstairs and the two dove out the bedroom window to escape as the gas fumes reached the living room fireplace and destroyed the house. Unfazed, the Tall Man departed. Following this, Liz then pleads for Mike to find her, as she fears that when her grandfather dies, the Tall Man will take him.
Having been institutionalized as delusional since the first film, Mike (James LeGros), now 19 years old, feels he can no longer ignore Liz's dream pleas, and fakes his recovery to obtain a doctor's release. At night, he returns to Morningside Cemetery to exhume bodies and is interrupted by Reggie (Reggie Bannister), who tells him that the attack by "midgets" and the subsequent explosion from the flashback never occurred. Mike reveals that the coffins he dug up are empty and urges Reggie to help him hunt the Tall Man down; a groundskeeper's flashlight prompts them to leave. En route to Reggie's house, Mike receives a vision—likely from the Tall Man directly—of an impending gas explosion, and frantically tries to warn Reggie seconds before his house is consumed in an explosion, killing his wife Celeste and daughter Bonnie. Mike's futile warning convinces Reggie that he is telling the truth and, at the funeral, he agrees to accompany Mike on his quest.
They break into a hardware store at night and stock up on an abundance of supplies and tools; they also build a series of weapons: a portable flamethrower for Mike, and a four-barreled shotgun for Reggie. They then travel the country roads, encountering abandoned towns and pillaged graveyards, as well as a few traps and apparitions the Tall Man has left in his wake. One of them is an apparition of a fully nude deceased young woman. They follow clues that lead them to the final town along the state border: Perigord, Oregon.
Meanwhile, Liz's grandfather has died and accompanies her grandmother to the funeral with her sister Jeri, who leaves prematurely and mysteriously vanishes. While searching for her, Liz travels the corridors of the mortuary and discovers an exhumed coffin, but before she can open it, the Tall Man surprises her and she runs away. The presiding priest Father Meyers (Kenneth Tigar), wracked with fear and alcohol withdrawal, desecrates the grandfather's body with a knife in a desperate attempt to thwart the mysterious occurrences he has witnessed. That evening, during a bout of drinking, the reanimated grandfather surprises him at his door and then spirits into the grandmother's bed before absconding with her. In the morning, Liz finds the empty bed and a funeral pin; the Tall Man psychically tells her to return at night if she wants to rescue her grandmother.
Prior to their arrival to Perigord, Mike awakens to find that Reggie has picked up a hitchhiker named Alchemy (Samantha Phillips) who eerily resembles the nude apparition he encountered in the Mariton mortuary, but is unable to determine a course of action and allows her to tag along, much to Reggie's delight, as he intends to eventually bed the young woman. They find Perigord deserted and decrepit, and hole up in an abandoned bed & breakfast before venturing out to the cemetery. Liz arrives at the mortuary to search for her grandmother, but is confronted by Father Meyers, who tries to rally her to escape with him before he is interrupted and then killed by a flying sphere. She encounters the Tall Man and discovers that her grandmother is now one of his Lurkers. As she escapes, she and Mike meet in the cemetery and return to the bed & breakfast, where they try to sleep and Reggie (almost) successfully beds Alchemy. When a tripped alarm distracts them downstairs, the Tall Man captures Liz and drives away in his hearse. Mike and Reggie give chase in Jody's 1971 426 Hemicuda, but the Tall Man runs them off the road. (Jody was Mike's brother, killed in the first movie by the Tall Man.) They barely escape before it explodes.
Liz is brought to the crematorium by one of the Tall Man's mortician assistants where she awakens but plays dead; she then manages to fight off the mortician by sending him into an active furnace and escapes. Mike and Reggie break into the mortuary and venture into the embalming room. As Reggie pours hydrochloric acid into a tank of embalming fluid, Mike discovers that the Tall Man, having learned from his mistakes of the first film, has hidden his transdimensional portal (Spacegate) behind a heavy steel door. In lieu of a handle, there is a large round "keyhole" in the wall and Mike realizes that they must capture a sphere in order to access the room. They then split up to find Liz.
Reggie searches the basement where he is attacked by a Graver (a gas-masked servant who exhumes graveyard bodies), and the two engage in a chainsaw battle which Reggie barely wins; he is also attacked by four Lurkers who he blows away with his shotgun. Meanwhile, Mike saves Liz from a silver sphere but they are both attacked by another mortician, but the silver sphere pins his hand to a door, but he chops it off to evade a golden sphere, which pursues Mike and Liz by plowing and even burning through doors; the same mortician doubles back and tries to kill Liz again, but the golden sphere breaks into the casket showroom and burrows into him, killing him viciously as it digs its way out.
Reuniting with Reggie, the three pry the severed hand off the door and carry the embedded silver sphere to the embalming room, where they quickly shove it into the "keyhole" and open the metal door to the white room. As Mike shows Liz the dimensional gate, Reggie ignites the flamethrower to burn the building down, but the Tall Man surprises them, knocking Reggie down, throwing Mike into the portal, and carrying Liz to the embalming table. Reggie helps Mike climb back out, while the Tall Man prepares to embalm Liz alive with a giant probe; Mike pulls the silver sphere from the keyhole and releases it at the Tall Man, but he pries it off and crushes it effortlessly. Liz gets free and stabs the Tall Man with the probe, and Reggie quickly activates the embalming machine, pumping the acid-contaminated fluid into the Tall Man, who screams in agony as he melts to death. Reggie sets fire to the room and hallways and the trio are greeted at the back entrance by Alchemy, who has procured an abandoned hearse.
The quartet ride off into the night victoriously with Mike and Liz in the rear compartment, and Reggie and Alchemy in the driver's cabin. Reggie thanks her for coming back for them and tries to flirt with her until Alchemy gently plucks a section of hair and flesh from her head, revealing that she is not—and probably never was—human. As Reggie screams, the hearse swerves wildly and Mike and Liz try to get out; the hearse stops and a bloody and battered Reggie dazedly lands against the window before falling to the ground. As the hearse begins to drive away, Mike and Liz steel each other and tell each other "this is just a dream" but the slot to the driver's cabin opens, revealing the Tall Man who tells them "No, it's not."
A hand breaks through the rear window and pulls Mike and Liz through it, mirroring the ending of the first film.
Phantasm III: The Lord Of The Dead
Immediately after his apparent demise in the previous installment, a new Tall Man emerges from the interdimensional gate. During this time the hearse driving Liz and Mike carries on and explodes. Reggie, who is still bloodied from being attacked by the Tall Man, rushes over to find Liz's corpse being devoured by a Lurker. The Tall Man then appears again, apprehending Reggie and an unconscious Mike but leaves when Reggie threatens to blow them into pieces, stating that he wants Mike in one piece. The Tall Man leaves, with Liz's head in one hand, and claims he will return for Mike.
Taken to a hospital, Mike has a near death experience, in which his brother Jody appears and tells him to stay away from the light. Mike walks on, recognizes the Tall Man ahead of him and wakes up. Just as Reggie arrives, Mike is attacked by the nurse but fights her off. A sphere emerges from her head and crashes out through the window. Back at home, Jody appears again to warn Mike but so does the Tall Man, who fights off Reggie and Jody (by now transformed into a sphere) and draws Mike through the gate with him.
The next morning, Reggie (with Jody's sphere) go to Holtsville, which turns out to be deserted. Reggie is captured by a three looters who lock him in his car's trunk and drive on to another house. There they are attacked and killed by a little boy called Tim, who also releases Reggie. After they have buried three looters in the yard, Tim tells Reggie how the Tall Man took his parents and how he escaped. In the morning, Reggie and Tim find the three graves empty and the pink hearse gone. Setting out to find the Tall Man, Reggie wants to leave Tim with a woman looking after orphans but the boy hides in the trunk and comes along.
Reggie enters Holtsville mortuary and is confronted by a sphere. As he is about to blast it, he is assaulted and handcuffed by two black young women, Tanesha and Rocky. Reg tries to warn them but the sphere kills Tanesha, as well as damaging Rocky's weapon, nunchukas, before Tim appears and shoots it out of the air with his pistol. The three join forces and drive on, looking for a town called Boulton, which contains a large mortuary. On their way the come across a convoy of hearses and follow them.
As they camp outside, Jody's sphere floats over to Reggie. In a dream, Jody appears and leads Reggie to the Tall Man's lair, where Mike is imprisoned in a small cell. The two free him but the Tall Man reappears and pursues the three. Jody is transformed back into a sphere and Reggie awakes. Jody appears again, opens another gate and Mike emerges. The Tall Man tries to emerge as well but Reggie manages to shut the gate just as he was about to reach through, cutting off the Tall Man's hands. They manage to fight off the small monsters into which the hands morph, and also the pink hearse containing the three looters.
They reach Boulton mortuary, where they come across a cryonics facility, which reminds Mike of a scene which suggests that the Tall Man dislikes cold. While Reggie, Rocky and Tim are separately attacked by the looters, Mike consults with his spheric brother, who explains that Tall Man is amassing an army to conquer dimensions. He also shows him in a dream what the Tall Man does with the dwarf creatures he has created from the dead: he removes the sapient part of the brains to create the spheres, turning the body into a drone and the mind into a killer. The Tall Man senses their presence and before they can leave, throws Mike off his feet. Surrounded by dozens of spheres, the Tall Man reaches for Mike, who wakes up and finds himself strapped to the table. The Tall Man grabs and subdues Jody's sphere and welcomes Mike. Soon afterwards, two of the looters, Rufus and Henry, wheel in Tim. Mike tries to give a message to the boy, saying "There are thousands of them", but is paralyzed by the Tall Man.
Rocky meanwhile manages to shake off her attacker and goes on to fight off Reggie's attacker. Cut free by Jody's sphere, Tim runs into the remaining looters who are however killed by Jody's sphere and the suddenly appearing Reggie. The threesome crash into the embalming room, where the Tall Man meanwhile has begun operating on Mike. Rocky impales the Tall Man with a spear dipped into liquid nitrogen, causing his flesh to begin melting. Rocky and Reggie lock him into the refrigerator room. A golden sphere breaks out of his head, crashes outside and chases through the corridors. Surprised by the golden sphere, Reggie catches it with a plunger and is still overpowered by it. With the help of Rocky and Tim, he locks the sphere into the nitrogen tank.
In the meantime, Mike climbs from the table and sees yellow blood issuing from his wound. He looks into a mirror and sees a golden sphere in his own head, concealed by a flap of skin. Just after the Tall Man's sphere has been dumped into the nitrogen, Mike appears, showing golden eyeballs, complaining of the cold and walking outside. Reggie chases after him but Mike warns him to stay away. Jody leaves as well, telling Reggie that they'll be in touch.
Reggie suggests searching the mortuary but Rocky leaves. Reggie and Tim go back inside and Tim reports that Mike said that "There are thousands of them." Unbeknownst to them, dozens of spheres are hovering above them. In the next room, Tim finds the poles of the interdimensional gate and the nitrogen tank overturned. He goes back to find Reggie pinned to the wall by the spheres. Tim tries to get his gun but the Tall Man appears, as Tim is pulled outside through a window, continuing the trademark ending style.
Phantasm IV: Oblivion
The film opens where its predecessor left off. Mike flees from Boulton mortuary in the hearse, while Reggie is trapped inside by the Tall Man's spheres. However, the Tall Man decides to let Reggie go for the moment.
Mike's spheric brother Jody persuades a reluctant Reggie to go looking for Mike. On the way, Reggie runs into a police control. He is attacked by the policeman, who turns out to be one of the Tall Man's undead servants, but manages to escape after blowing up the police car. Later, he meets a woman called Jennifer, rescues from her overturned car and takes her to the next town. They stay the night at an abandoned motel and Reggie tells her the story of the Tall Man. Jennifer doesn't believe him and also rejects his advances. Having dreamed of Mike, Reggie wakes up and unbuttons Jennifer's nightshirt, discovering two spheres sticking in her breasts. As they fly out and attack him, he smashes one with a sledgehammer but is pinned to the wall by the other. In desperation he strikes his tuning fork and the sphere explodes. Jen grabs his leg but he smashes her with the hammer and leaves.
Mike, trying to uncover the mysteries of the Tall Man and to escape the transformation, drives through abandoned towns and remembers the last days before the Tall Man's arrival. The Tall Man appears in the back of the hearse and takes control of the car before he disappears into the coffin. Mike drives the hearse into Death Valley. Mike intends to force the Tall Man to a confrontation and writes his testament. He finds himself at a 19th century colonial-style house with an earlier model of the gate inside. Mike meets a man resembling the Tall Man, who however welcomes him cordially and introduces himself as Jebediah Morningside. Jebediah wants to speak with Mike, who, however, is frightened and again escapes through the gate.
Back in Death Valley, Mike realises that he can move rocks by the power of his mind. Jody appears. Mike is distrustful and accuses his brother of having abandoned him. Jody defends his behaviour and disappears. Mike works on his car, using parts to build a makeshift sphere. Hoping that he might stop Jebedaiah from becoming the evil Tall Man, he again goes through a gate, but finds himself in a deserted city and escapes the Tall Man only with Jody's help.
Meanwhile, Reggie arrives at Death Valley and fights off a group of dwarves when Mike and Jody appear through a gate. Mike embraces Reggie and tells him not to trust Jody. Reggie passes Mike the tuning fork, as the two brothers pass through the gate, appearing in Jebediah's house. Invisible to the old man, they witness how he perfects his craft and approaches the gate. Mike tries to stab him before he can pass through but misses him, as they are in another dimension. Jebedaiah vanishes and moments later the evil Tall Man emerges from the gate.
Mike escapes through the gate, finding himself in a cemetery. He is attacked and overpowered by his brother and awakes on mortuary slab. Jody holds him as the Tall Man begins operating. A panicking Mike strikes the tuning fork, thus immobilising his opponents. Mike then kills Jody with a sphere but the Tall Man revives and telekinetically takes the fork from Mike. Again, Mike escapes through the gate back to Death Valley, pursued by the Tall Man. Reggie tries to shoot the Tall Man but is overpowered. Mike summons the sphere he built. The Tall Man is struck but pulls out the sphere again. At that moment, Mike activates the hearse's motor, causing the car to explode and destroy the Tall Man. However, a new Tall Man immediately comes through the gate, pulls the golden sphere from Mike's head and disappears again. As Mike is close to death, Reggie arms himself and enters the gate, determined to overcome the Tall Man. Mike sees a childhood memory, climbing into Reggie's ice cream truck and driving off into the night.
It should be noted that this is the only Phantasm to not end with someone being pulled through a mirror or pane of glass.