Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989)

Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge (1989)

Be nice to Eric. Or Eric won’t be nice to you.

When a rich businessman opens up a new mall in town, everything seems great for all involved. However the mall hides a terrible secret. A year earlier, the site was occupied by a house whose owner, Eric, refused to move to allow construction to take place. The house was burned down in mysterious circumstances and Eric was presumed buried inside. But Eric is still alive and lurks around the air ducts and corridors of the mall, taking revenge on those responsible for his grisly face.

 

By the end of the 80s, the humble slasher film was all but dead and buried amidst years of over-saturation. Here we have Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge limping along aimlessly at the end of the decade, devoid of fresh material and even opting for a Phantom of the Opera-like spin on the slasher formula. Hokey and derivative right from the start, Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge doesn’t have a great deal going for it.

One of the first things to strike me is that there’s little substance to all of the carnage. The film kicks off with Eric killing a security guard and then proceeds to provide little explanation as to who, what and why Eric is and does what he does for a good portion of the running time. All it seems to be is Eric killing people without any sort of connection. Of course if you’ve read the plot summary on the DVD or read the synopsis elsewhere then you’ll know why but should the audience really need to find out from other sources – the film should be doing some sort of explaining. I don’t expect to be spoon fed the plot but at least let us know what is going on before it’s too late. Towards the end we’re finally told of the fire and the cover-up but the random nature of the opening half is pretty disjointing.

Eric is some sort of half-assed Phantom of the Opera: presumed dead in a fire, wearing a white half-face mask and listening to power ballads in his secret lair (this was the 80s after all). He’s also extremely bitter and kills a lot of the characters simply because they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. He uses the requisite supply of 80s slasher weapons to kill his victims including king cobra snake, crossbow and even slices a guy’s face off by shoving it into an air conditioning fan. Unfortunately because the film is pretty dimly lit, you don’t get to see a great deal of splatter. As with most of the 80s slashers, the only reason to watch Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge is to see a variety of unappealing characters being killed by a maniac in various grisly ways. The film really disappoints in this respect, although as the film goes along, the more annoying and cartoon-esque characters (including the sleazy businessman, hired goon and corrupt mayor) all get their comeuppance. Despite the innovative dispatch methods, they’re not fully satisfying enough had they been a bit gorier and messier.

The acting is also as bad as you’d expect it to be. Derek Rydall, as Eric, has his voice masked by a voice box making him sound like Darth Vader at times. For some reason, becoming the Phantom of the Mall has turned him into some martial arts expect, although I guess it’s because that’s all he does in the basement. No wonder he wants some female company down there. Jonathan Goldsmith hams up the evil businessman role and the few females in the film provide a little glamour but nothing else, not even the nudity. Ken Foree, of Dawn of the Dead fame, pops up as a pervert security guard but I’m sure the whole purpose of his presence was to provide a token nod to the mall setting from Romero’s masterpiece. And for added cheese, the mall has its own explosives store (!) which is in the film for the sole purpose of providing Eric with a place to find a bomb to blow the mall up in the finale.

 

You should know the 80s slasher drill by now. No scares, suspense, story, acting or characters – just novelty death scenes and a psychotic villain. Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge isn’t the worst slasher out there but by the time it was released, it was scraping the barrel for material and it shows.

 

 ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Related Movies

Post a comment