PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE (1989)

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PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE (1989)
Directed by Richard Friedman
Available on Limited Edition Blu-Ray from Arrow Video

When security officers wind up dead at the newly opened Midwood Mall, owner Harv Posner does whatever it takes to ensure nothing spoils the running of his investment. Could the culprit be connected to a young man who burned to death in his house on the plot where the mall now stands?

With a title that may fool you into thinking it’s a sequel rather than a standalone film, PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE is the epitome of 80’s dumb slasher fun, combining teens, power hungry investors and a splash of Phantom of the Opera, right down to the use of the name Eric, all neatly presented in the haven of a shopping mall.

PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE focuses on the character of Melody, a teenager who’s still grieving for her beloved boyfriend Eric, who died in a tragic house fire the year previously. Having got a job at the new mall with her best friend Suzie, she’s pleased to have found work in order to pay for college. A chance meeting with local paper photographer Peter reignites all her concerns over Eric’s death as she shares her suspicions that it wasn’t an accident and that someone was there the night he died who she feels was responsible. Peter, being a photo journalist and keen to get into Mel’s panties good books, attempts to investigate. Of course, it’s only a matter of time until the truth will come out.

From the opening of the movie and the giveaway title of the film, it’s not exactly a surprise as to whose behind the series of murders occurring at Midwood Mall but nevertheless it’s an entertaining slice of slasher fun as we see despicable adults offed by the ‘mystery man’ in the vents. Running parallel with his storyline, Melody, Peter, Suzie and goofball Buzz play detective and it’s inevitable that both these stories will eventually collide but what will be come of it?

The mall is a great choice of setting for the film as it turns this comfortable, commercial environment into a place of terror. Don’t be fooled by its enticing, glamorous facade of frozen yoghurt booths and clothes shops. Sinister happenings are occurring at the mall that only appear to intensify.

Whilst the story is a bit run-of-the-mill, special makeup FX by future award-winner Matthew Mungle (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) is where the film truly hits its high notes as we see security guards and others taken out in exciting, eye-popping ways. They might not be the most gruesome displays, thanks to a lack of budget, but there’s certainly some enjoyable scenes to be had, especially when you mix in a little martial arts choreography too! As the film progresses, the kill scenes and actions scenes ramp up to an explosive finale!

Though not particularly frightening, I find PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE an entertaining horror flick thanks to Pauly Shore’s quirky character, Buzz, ramping up the craziness, whilst the retro fashions and hairstyles of the 80s are in full swing to dazzle and delight. Performances from supporting stars Ken Foree and Morgan Fairchild add gravitas and elevate the production whilst the younger stars bring the spunk and energy. Whilst it’s not likely to be on the top of your slasher list, there’s enough to keep most horror fans entertained.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

Arrow Video have released a double disc limited edition set for PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE containing three versions of the feature film in high definition 1080p Blu-Ray accompanied by original uncompressed mono audio and optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing on all cuts. The bumper edition is packaged with a 60-page fully-illustrated perfect-bound book, featuring new writing by Daniel Budnik and Amanda Reyes; a large fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn; six postcard-sized lobby card reproductions; and limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn.

Disc One of Arrow Video’s release of PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE features the theatrical version of the film (1 hour 30 mins 35 secs) and is loaded with a range of extras, including:

Audio Commentary with Ewan Gant, the disc producer and acquisitions at Arrow Films, and Amanda Reyes, author and self-confessed slasher fantatic. This fun commentary is pretty laid back as the two discuss the film, its plot points, the original script and their own thoughts and experiences with the movie. Having discovered the film in the 90’s, Amanda talks about how she got into Phantom of the Mall and both Ewan and Amanda bring an informal, enjoyable energy to the commentary as they weave fact and opinions.

Audio Commentary with director Richard Friedman, hosted by Michael Felcher, owner of Red Shirt Pictures. In this commentary, Friedman gives an insight into the making of the movie, how he got involved with Phantom, as well as more on his own career and how he started his filmmaking career.

Audio Interviews with Composer Stacy Widelitz and Associate Producer, Robert J. Koster, hosted by Michael Felcher – Felcher presents two interviews, conducted independently from the film, though the movie plays in the background during the interview segments, just like it would for a regular commentary. Felcher questions Widelite and Koster about the other genre films they worked on, how they got started in the business and what they’re up to nowadays.

Shop ‘Til You Drop – The Making of ‘Phantom of the Mall’ (42 mins) – A ‘making of’ documentary featuring interviews with director Richard Friedman, screenwriters Scott Schneid and Tony Michaelman, actors Derek Rydall (Eric Matthews) and Gregory Scott Cummins (Christopher Volker), filmmaker Tony Kaden and special makeup effects creator, Matthew Mungle. This documentary gives some fascinating backstory to Phantom of the Mall, such as the origins of the story Schneid and Frederick R. Ulrich, which was developed then into a script by Schneid and Michelman with Kaden set to direct, before their perfect script succumbing to budget constraints. This resulted in the script being butchered to meet a $2 million budget with Robert King being brought in to re-write it. Schneid and Michelman weren’t offered the chance to rewrite and had no say in the matter and Kaden left the project. Friedman was brought into direct the rewritten script, with the film shot at the well-known mall in LA, Sherman Oaks Galleria, during the night. The documentary also discusses the actors hired for the film with input from Rydall, Cummins and Friedman, whilst Mungle talks about his ideas and enthusiasm for producing the FX work for the kills and Eric’s facial scars.

The Vandals Go To The Mall (13 mins) – An interview with drummer Joe Escalante of punk band, The Vandals, on the creation of the Phantom of the Mall theme song. Orange County punk band The Vandals scored a number 1 record on K-Rock in 1982 with Urban Struggle before they were chosen to be in a film called Suburbia. Ultimately, they got kicked out of the film due to unruly audience, however a family acquaintance got them the Phantom gig. Producing a more tongue-in-cheek punk pop record, the producers were pleased with their efforts and used it for the end credits of Phantom. You can also hear it on the menu screen of the discs of this Arrow Video release.

Alternate and Deleted Scenes – Scenes taken from the TV cut of the film are presented here individually for you to view. They include: Alternate Intro (3 mins 21 secs), Party Time (1 mins 18 secs), Lock Picking (39 secs), Air Duct (48 secs) and Alternate Ending (1 mins 11 secs). I actually prefer the alternate ending. It’s not as bitter or cringe, in my opinion.

Trailers – Domestic and International trailers for the movie.

Image Gallery – 57 images from the film feature in this image gallery which can be scrolled through using the play button on the remote. The images include stills and behind the scenes, some of which give a better look of the make-up effects.

Disc Two doesn’t have any special features but does contain two extra versions of the film.

The first is the TV Cut, running at 1 hour 28 mins and 36 seconds. A recreation the TV cut, this version contains alternate, re-edited and deleted scenes with standard definition inserts for the footage unique to this version. Most noticeably, the film has a different opening with Eric displaying his athleticism as he works out on the gymnastics equipment in the gymnasium of the school. This opening, which also features Melody, Buzz and Suzie, depicts life before the mall was built, and thus is chronologically in order versus the theatrical cut that relies solely upon flashbacks to tell the backstory.

The second version on the disc is the Composite Phan Cut running at 1 hour 36 mins and 18 seconds. This version combines footage from both the theatrical and TV Cuts of the film for the ultimate ‘Phantom of the Mall’ experience. It shares the same opening scene as the TV cut.

About Bat 7852 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, Yakuza Zero and Webbed.

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