Friday, July 29, 2022

Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge


Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge
Richard Friedman

I don’t know why we need to know its Eric’s revenge up front. Is it important that we know Eric is going to be doing some revenging, before the movie starts? Unsurprisingly, the Phantom of the Mall terrorizes the residents of a brand-new mall. This mall just happens to be built on the remains of the burned down house of Eric Matthews (Derek Rydall). Susie (Kimber Sissons), Eric’s former girlfriend is on the case to discover the identify the mysterious figure killing mall employees.

It's Eric.

"Okay, maybe I should have read the Instant Pot Instructions."

Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge is set to be prime junk cinema and I think if it had been made just a few years prior it might have been. The film we get is unfortunately listless and lacks that maniacal spark that can make a rote slasher film like this feel fresh. There are attempts to make something unique, the mall setting, giving the Phantom modern technology, his kung-fu skills, and making him an angsty teen. These never work as well as they might. The uninteresting staging and dull lighting don’t help matters much either. By 1989 the slasher film was feeling tired, and it shows in a film like this, there’s just nothing here that feels fresh.

By 1989 horror films had also been under intense scrutiny for years, miserable authoritarians had gone after them for their depictions of violence. Many films in the later 1980s were rendered toothless by editors who were told to cut depictions of gore in order to be suitable entertainment for places like Blockbuster Video which had a terrible track record of censoring the films it made available. Phantom of the Mall is filled with scenes that might have had an impact on the screen but are rendered as forgettable.

"What is a weasel?"
"A miserable pile of secrets."


None of the cast is terrible but even the charismatic Ken Foree feels like he doesn’t have much to do as a mall security guard. Morgan Fairchild has a handful of fun scenes as an archly evil mayor, the rest of the production certainly could have taken a few cues from her. Pauly Shore appears as Buzz who happens to act just like Paul Shore. If The Phantom (or Eric if you’re nasty) is supposed to be an updated version of the classic horror character he is supposed to be charming, or at the very least a talented and soulful person, but Eric (aka The Phantom of the Mall) is bland. He’s just angry and mean, and although he’s given a tragic backstory it never translates into a sympathetic character.

The most notable thing to ever come out of Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge is the end credits theme song which is an amusing enough goof on the whole movie (it does repeatedly drop the r-slur so your ability to enjoy it may vary), when I have brought up the movie to others, it’s the only thing that ever gets mentioned.

Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge isn’t great but if you need some 80’s mall horror nostalgia… I’d just watch Chopping Mall (1986). It’s better in every way and it's even set in the same mall.

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