The mall… That icon of consumerism and setting for many great horror movies: “Dawn of the Dead”, “Chopping Mall“, and “Night of the Comet” just to name a few. Let’s throw Midwood, and “Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge” in with that group. When Harv Posner, a greedy developer wants to build a mall in the city of Midwood, he starts buying up all the property he can get and moves out all the families. When when one last family won’t move out and holds up the whole project, they send a little muscle in to get the job done, burning down the home and the family inside – except for Eric. Now he’s back and he wants Harv to pay the piper.
Well, if that’s all there was to it the movie would be pretty short, right? We find out that Eric’s girlfriend Melody was there the night that his house burnt down, and she still hasn’t gotten over it. She gets a job at the new Midwood mall in order to get out of the house a little bit, and because she’s ready to move on. Weird things are happening around the mall though, like when she goes out to her car one night, she finds some orchids – her favorite flower – and a dress that she really wanted but couldn’t afford sitting on the passenger seat of her car. When her car doesn’t start, she gets out and is assaulted by a masked stranger, and she’s saved when a mysterious crossbow bolt hits the assailant in the shoulder. She starts to think that maybe Eric isn’t dead and she’s going to try to find out with the help of a local newspaper report Peter (Rob Estes!).
Harv is of course, oblivious to all of this. When a body of a security guard with his eyes popped out drops on the owner of the mall’s desk, it finally dawns on him that maybe that kid who’s house that they torched and bulldozed might come back to bite them in the ass after all. He hires the guy that originally torched Eric and the fam’s house, the man with the shiny metal earring, Volker (played by non other than HACK-O-LANTERN‘S own – and one of my personal favorites – Gregory Scott Cummins) to burn up the guard’s body and get rid of these snooping kids! Eric doesn’t give up that easily and he won’t give up until he’s gotten Melody back and gotten even with Harv.
Phantom of the Mall is chock full of recognizable actors. Along with Rob Estes and Gregory Scott Cummins, Ken Foree plays the head security guard Acardi, Morgan Fairchild plays Mayor Karen Wilton and Pauly Shore plays Melody’s friend Buzz. I was most impressed with Pauly Shore, because the first thing that comes to mind when I think of him is BURN IT WITH FIRE! but he did a great job as Buzz. Thankfully this movie was just before his whole MTV “Weasel” phase, so while he exhibited a little bit of that behavior in a goofy scene where he’s trying to distract a security guard, he actually came across as quite normal for the rest of the film.
The special effects were well done as to be expected from most films of the 80’s slasher breed. There were some very inventive death scenes, some of which are: a security guard’s eyeballs popping out from electrocution, a scene involving a rope and an escalator, death by ventilation fan, a cobra bite to the balls, and one of my favorites – a header from 50 feet, ending in an impalement on a scale model of the mall. Eric’s make-up was also pretty decent, even if most of the time we get to see his actual burns, it’s in low light situations. In a lot of the early scenes he’s wearing a “Phantom of the Opera” style mask over half of his face that’s fashioned out of a mannequin head.
One thing I noticed that I thought was weird was that while Eric is living under the mall, he can crawl around the ventilation ducts to get basically anywhere he wants to go. This is a multi level mall, but I never really see him climbing up ladders or scrambling up vent shafts. He’s also got this really ornate setup in the basement of the mall – leather furniture, multiple TV’s with access to VCR’s where he can beat off to video of Melody, weights, and a dirt floor. Wait… a dirt floor? Come on, I can believe that this guy get’s super depressed about having to look like a freak and live in the basement of a mall. I can believe that he bulks up and learns some awesome kung fu in his spare time and learns how to shoot a wicked crossbow, but a dirt floor in the basement of a mall? Sorry, I don’t buy it.
Other than that, Phantom of the Mall is really a fun thriller/slasher without a whole lot of suspense. You’re presented every side so there’s not really a whole lot of mystery that can be worked in. The acting is serviceable and a blast to watch. Director Richard Friedman was even kind enough to let you hear Stan Bush‘s (the guy that sang “The Touch” from The Transformers animated film) awesome pipes on the song “Heart of Darkness” 3 whole times! Phantom of the Mall was even filmed at the same location as Chopping Mall, so you know it has to be good! Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge takes 4.5 sporting good store blowtorches out of 5!