Watching teen-oriented movies from the 80s makes me question if I missed out on an amazing era for youth. Neon fashion floods the screen with synth-based pop songs blaring through malls. That’s another thing I noticed is that malls play a big part in these settings. While they did play a part for me growing up in the 90s, they actually seemed to be like local attractions during the 80s. Lots of security and big department stores offered plenty to venture into when visiting them at the time or at least, according to the movies. Chopping Mall and Night of the Comet are the two that come to mind instantly. PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE makes great use of the mall setting to tell a young, slasher version of a familiar story.
Melody (Kari Whitman) takes a new job as a waitress at the new mall, right before the grand opening. A dark figure, Eric (Derek Rydall) is watching through the vents, clearly infatuated with her. With a new huge mall also comes shady individuals. Eric takes his revenge on anyone who attempts to hurt Melody. The story references a fire from the year before where Eric’s home was burned down with him in it. Melody was a witness and now the mall is built on top of his family’s property. Eric is not happy and scarred, both literally and figuratively, leading to bodies piling up in the mall.
Creative variations of the original story are utilized in the mall setting. The Phantom is always watching in all versions, this time by hacking into the mall security cameras to spy on Melody. His half-mask to cover his scars is taken from the head of a broken mannequin. That’s the beauty of PHANTOM OF THE MALL: it modernizes the familiar tropes with tongue-in-cheek humor. The action sequences are so over the top, such as a chase sequence involving an attacker climbing on top of an elevator in broad daylight and no one questions the scenario.
Arrow Video has spared no expense with their new release as the video quality is clear and exposes the 80s esthetic for what it is. It has the original uncompressed stereo audio that does its job as all dialogue is clean even when louder sequences come into play.
Two audio commentaries are included: one with Richard Friedman and the other with Ewan Cant and Amanda Reyes. In addition, there are audio interviews with composer Stacy Widelitz and associate producer Robert J. Koster. The interviews are edited to play over the film like a commentary but were recorded separately by Red Shirt Pictures. Several video interviews are included, but the main attraction in that department is “Shop Til’ You Drop!: The Making of PHANTOM OF THE MALL,” a brand new 42 minute documentary covering every aspect on the film’s production.
The initial run of PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE is being sold as a limited edition 2-disc set. The biggest selling point here is the inclusion of three different cuts: original theatrical cut, TV cut, and the composite “Phan” cut. Both the theatrical and TV cuts have brand new 2K restorations with the TV cut containing standard definition inserts for the footage unique to that version. The “Phan” cut combines footage from both versions adding up to a total 96 minute run time. Part of the limited edition package are six postcard-sized lobby cards, a fold-out double-sided poster, 60 page fully illustrated booklet with new writing pieces, and a sturdy slip-box that houses all the material.
Home video market helped more films get funded during the theatrical release and PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE is a product of that. The artwork and title alone sell the product. The ERIC’S REVENGE part indicates that audiences would already know who Eric is like he was Freddy Krueger or Michael Myers, but this is not part of any kind of franchise. I kind of dig the cheap marketing ploy of that. PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE feels like a piece of an 80s cinematic horror time capsule and fans of the era will enjoy Arrow’s new Blu-ray release.
You can pre-order the limited-edition 2-disc set HERE!