Wednesday, September 3, 2014
PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC'S REVENGE (1989) movie review
Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge (1989) d. Richard Friedman (USA)
I’ll be honest – I didn’t actually believe this was a real movie when I first saw it pop up in one of my reference books (I think it might have been Legacy of Blood, Jim Harper’s fine examination of slasher films). I mean, could you come up with a cheesier title? But upon actually visiting the beast, it’s a fairly faithful repurposing of Phantom of the Opera...set in a shopping mall, so what else would you call it?
Anyway, you’ve got a kid named Eric (Derek Rydall) who gets his house burned down when his parents refuse to sell the property to make way for the new shopaholic gathering ground. Although gruesomely crisped, Eric survives and now lurks within the basement and air shafts of the shiny structure, keeping an eye on his lost lady love Suzie (Kimber Sissons) via the mall security cameras when not pumping iron or practicing his martial arts katas. Of course, he’s also got an axe to grind for the sleazy developer (Jonathan Goldsmith) and Barbie-doll mayor (Morgan Fairchild) that fried his folks.
Surprisingly, the story is more watchable than you’d imagine, and while no unsung classic, it’s a terrific time capsule for the late 80s, reflecting the fashions and mindset of the time, as well as the state of the horror genre. There’s gratuitous nudity, gratuitous gore, gratuitous soft rock, and gratuitous use of Ken Foree as a mall security cop. Much better than I expected, mostly because I expected it to be, well, terrible. (Fans should also check out Video Junkie’s William S. Wilson’s examination of the film proper and the version that never was.)