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Angus Scrimm, Remembered: Gigi Bannister

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With the passing of horror icon Angus Scrimm earlier in January, FANGORIA is dedicating this month to the memory of our dear friend. We have reached out to several of those who knew Angus well to share their memories of the extraordinary actor. Scrimm’s PHANTASM phranchise co-star Reggie Bannister shared his thoughts yesterday; now, we present parting words from his wife Gigi.

Angus Scrimm (a.k.a. Lawrence Rory Guy) and I first met under rather awkward circumstances. But in order to tell you about them, I must first relate how Reggie and I met.

In 1994, Reggie was trying his best to promote the newly-released-to-video PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD. I had quit my position as a paralegal and returned to what I loved, being a talent manager. I had a group called the “Wolf Pak,” consisting of horror and science-fiction celebrities, and was booking them into conventions around the country. THE HILLS HAVE EYES’ Michael Berryman was among my clients, and Reggie called him one day to ask what could be done. Michael referred him to me and my then business partner. When Reggie called, I was actually renting from Kristy McNichol (FAMILY, EMPTY NEST) in Sherman Oaks, and one of my clients and best friend was THE HOWLING’s Elisabeth Brooks. Upon receiving the call, I immediately recognized Reggie’s voice, but could not believe my ears! He told me how he got my number from Michael, that he was promoting PHANTASM III and, “I’m not sure if you’re familiar with my work, but…” All the while, I was giggling like a schoolgirl on the inside and being the cool, calm, collected talent manager on the outside. “Why, yes! I’m very familiar!” Unbeknownst to poor Reggie, I was a huge Phan. He asked if I’d like to attend a showing, I asked if I could bring Elisabeth as my guest, and the date was set.

We arrived at the screening (hosted by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films) on the UCLA campus, Elisabeth and I made our way through the crowd and the very first person we happened upon was the one and only Tall Man…with a cold! My handshake was promptly rebuffed by the kind gentleman in the suit and tie, with a disclaimer that he didn’t want to pass on his malady. That was Rory Guy to a T: Always thinking of others, and it was something I would experience in person and on the phone over and over again in the many years to come.

I then looked for Reggie by finding the largest cluster of people, knowing he’d have to be in the middle—and he was. We did shake hands, and I felt as if someone had reached in and grabbed my soul for the first time in my life. He felt I had the largest stick up my butt, and proceeded to remove it for the next several years while I enlightened Reggie on the world of the film business.

We loved Rory dearly, and he always referred to us as “The Wonderful Bannisters” in messages he left, querying as to what adventures we were up to and telling us to be sure to catch him up upon our return. Which we did, often—so regularly that Reggie began to refer to my hour-or-more chats with Rory as “Tuesdays with Rory” (a play on TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE). We spoke on everything from my classes at Riverside City College and his days as a schoolboy (and having to bang erasers), to upcoming convention appearances, films, philosophy, poetry, politics and, of course, gossip—he loved gossip!

Most of all, Rory loved the Phamily and, of course, the Phans. He was a stickler for being polite and for not “sticking it to the Phans.” He wanted to maintain his personal relationship with them, and believed in being prepared when he appeared, so when it came time to walk out on that stage, Rory wanted to make sure that every Phan had a memorable experience. Thus, the addition of the recitation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven.” When he became bored with that, he decided to add a musical ditty entitled “Prairie Dog,” much to the Phans’ delight. Of course, there was always the eternal “Boooooyyyyyy!” and many other lines from the films, such as, “The funeral is about to begin.” He lived for the applause and he got it…to the end.

When we went to the cast-and-crew screening of PHANTASM: RAVAGER, Rory again had a bad cold. We had come full circle, it seemed, and we even remarked on the irony. Rory was quite proud of RAVAGER and the Tall Man’s extended screen time with his arch-foe, Reggie. He said that he loved how the characters had fully developed to this point, and that he considered RAVAGER the best work of the entire franchise.

In speaking with the cast and Don, it seems unanimous…we all still hear his voice. His chuckle, his “Oh, I don’t knooooowww.” His omnipresence. As the Tall Man says, “It’s never over.” And so it begins…

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