‘Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge’ is Filled with ‘80s Pizazz but Lacks Originality

Phantom of the Mall

I’ve always been a sucker for a film set primarily in a shopping mall. When I was growing up, massive shopping centers were far more essential than they are now. Before the Internet, the idea of a giant collection of clothing retailers, eateries, booksellers, and an arcade sharing a single roof was kind of revolutionary. It was a place where the average American teenager could congregate with friends without parental oversight. And for that, I will always have fond memories of the mall. So, when I found out that Arrow Video was releasing the all-but-forgotten Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge on Blu-ray, I jumped at the chance to give it a look.

While I’m far from mad that I checked it out, this isn’t exactly what I’d call a lost classic. The flick is more than a little silly and clearly wasn’t made for a great deal of money. But Phantom of the Mall certainly has the potential to provide a bit of nostalgic fun to the kind of viewer looking to get lost in 90-minutes of 1980s cheese. 

Melody tragically lost her boyfriend, Eric, in a house fire. But she is slowly putting her life back together. And part of that process includes scoring a rad job at the local mall. What Melody doesn’t know is that a disfigured phantom with malevolent intentions lives under the shopping center. Yikes! 

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Phantom of the Mall is part stalk-and-slash and part teenage melodrama. But it doesn’t really excel on either front and often gets stuck between the two genres. The romance isn’t particularly compelling and the stalk-and-slash scenes aren’t all that noteworthy, nor are they particularly original. The flick doesn’t do anything better than the vast majority of slashers from its era. 

One of the big reasons the stalker aspect of the film didn’t work for me is the lack of tension and atmosphere. Films that have previously been successful with a mall or department store setting see the characters trapped in the shopping center overnight for one reason or another. And while that has been done a lot, it’s effective. In Phantom of the Mall, the characters aren’t trapped. They can leave at any time. And that doesn’t really do much to raise the stakes. The characters don’t feel like they are in grave danger, save for briefly during the final fifteen minutes. Further complicating matters, most of director Richard Friedman’s attempts at building tension rarely pan out.   

But what this movie does have going for it is that it’s quirky, over-the-top, and likely to serve as a welcome trip down memory lane for anyone that grew up in the ‘80s. This is, very much, a product of its time. The hairstyles, the wardrobe, the décor; all of it screams ‘80s. So, in spite of its numerous flaws, I suspect there is an audience out there for this flick. If nothing else, it features appearances from Pauly Shore and Rob Estes who would both go on to enjoy notoriety in the ‘90s.

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Only Arrow would give a title this obscure the deluxe treatment like this. Arrow understands what fans want. And aside from Criterion, I would argue that they are the best in the home video game. If this film were released by a major distributor, this would likely have been a bare bones affair or perhaps even relegated to a Digital only release. But Arrow knows what fans want. They don’t shy away from rolling out the definitive release treatment, even for titles that a lot of horror fans may not have ever even heard of. 

This home video release includes an extensive making of documentary that dives into the film’s production and chronicles its journey to the screen. What I appreciated about it is that we get a warts-and-all look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the production process. The creative team and on-camera talent provide a look at bringing the picture to life, shooting at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, and also candidly speak to some of the biggest challenges associated with the project.   

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For me, one of the standout features is the interview with Joe Escalante of The Vandals, talking about crafting the film’s theme song. As a kid that grew up listening to punk music, I was thrilled to see the punk rock legends feature on the soundtrack. I was even more stoked to get the chance to hear how to band got involved and what that meant to Escalante. 

The film’s Blu-ray release also features a handful of deleted scenes and a commentary track with disc producer Ewan Cant and film historian Amanda Reyes. I would love to have seen people with more direct ties to the picture weighing in via the commentary track. But this is still a loaded, feature-rich release, so that’s a pretty minor complaint.

In addition to a loaded slate of special features, and three different versions of the film, this special edition Blu-ray also includes a booklet with essays on the flick, production notes, and more!  

If you’re curious to check out Phantom of the Mall for yourself, the film is now available on Blu-ray from Arrow video! 

  • Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge


Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge is dripping with ‘80s cheese. But the film can’t decide if it’s a stalk-and-slash picture or a teenage melodrama.

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