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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Phantom of The Mall: Eric's Revenge

Okay, so this week, I'm a little bit discombobulated. I'm moving to a new apartment this week, and things here are half-packed, and pretty crazy. Anyway, while I have a moment to relax, here's this week's movie...Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge! Get ready for massive SPOILERS...

The opening scene leaves us in the dark, literally speaking. There's a figure removing items from a mannequin and stealing a crossbow, until a security guard discovers him. The mysterious intruder kills the guard, and then the opening credits roll. This movie is like the slasher-movie version of The Love Boat: among the supporting cast, we have Rob Estes, Ken Foree, Morgan Fairchild, and even Pauly Shore!

After the credits(which are shown in front of flames...Did a screensaver kick in?), there's a generic ground-breaking ceremony on the day the mall opens. Yay. An enthusiastic crowd is at the ceremony, and they're all acting like the President is there as well.

At a restaurant called Sleuth's(?), a teen named Melody is busy interviewing for a waitress position. Then we head back to the ceremony, as Mayor Karen(Morgan Fairchild) unveils a replica of the mall, and reveals plans to build many more features on to it.

Then Melody finds her best friend Suzie, and they decide to celebrate Melody's successful interview. As the Mayor wraps up her speech, a young photojournalist (A version of Rob Estes) sees the 2 girls, and decides that a grown man getting candid shots of teenagers isn't creepy in the least. He's the Woody Allen of journalism!

Eric the Phantom is watching the whole thing from an air duct. He crawls away to his secret lair, and circles July 4th on his calendar, the date of another mall-related publicity stunt. I hope nothing else big is happening on that date. Then he cuts apart a mannequin head's face, to make himself a mask. So, just to make this clear...He can steal a calendar and enough stuff to build a comfy little room, but he can't just steal one simple mask? Huh???

The girls head to a yogurt shop run by their friend Buzz, played by a young, normal-sounding Pauly Shore. He prepares a dessert order, then he unintentionally contaminates it with something pinkish that looks like either stretched-out gum or a retainer. Either way, I'll never go to a frozen yogurt stand after today!

Mayor Karen just happens to be wandering by with a crowd of journalists(Okay, seriously, this is more media coverage than we saw at Pope Benedict's retirement party! WHY???), and Photographer Pete gets to take another picture of his next date-rape victim. He's much creepier than our Phantom, man!

Eric moves through his "tunnel", while Pete flirts with Melody. He mentions that he was the journalist who took her photo during the aftermath of the fire that claimed her boyfriend, and he reminds her that she saw someone suspicious at the scene. The memory upsets her, and Pete apologizes for bringing it up. They both agree that there may have been a conspiracy to cover up the crime.

As Melody opens her employee locker, she finds a bouquet of pink orchids, the same flowers that Eric used to surprise her with. Eh, probably just a coincidence. Oh, and there's a brief flashback to a time when Melody's boyfriend wasn't a scarred-up, psychotic stalker, but just a nice guy buying his nice girlfriend some nice flowers. Nice.

Suzie and Buzz swoop in awkwardly, and Buzz suggests that he and Pete speak privately, while Suzie and Melody do the same. Buzz then advises Pete to find another girl to date, because of Melody's troubled past. Hey Buzz, how 'bout you "you" off...

A tightwad named Harv, who has a lot riding on the financial success of the mall, tries to tell his headbanger son to exit the premises, because the kid wrecked his car. They have a quiet spat, and the son leaves. Fascinating plot development.

Buzz tells Pete about the night Eric "died", and the headbanger rudely brushes past them. Then Pete asks Buzz if the fire at Eric's house was arson. Like Buzz would know! He can't even keep his frozen yogurt from getting crap in it!

Up in the air ducts, Eric sees a maintenance worker crawling around ahead of him. He sneaks up on the worker, then forces his face through some fast-moving fan blades. Harv, who just happens to be standing underneath the very section where the murder is occurring, hears some of the assault, but isn't quite sure of what he's hearing. Sharp guy, that Harv.

In a clothing store's changing room, Suzie, Melody, and a few others are getting gratuitously nude, as a security guard watches on a security cam.  His co-worker warns him that Harv is coming in, so the screen gets switched off. A second later, Harv arrives, asking them to check the ventilation ducts for "knocking noises". As soon as he leaves, they switch the monitor back on...right before the perv is told to leave and investigate the air vent noises.

Pervy, being true to his nature, decides to crawl right on over the vent to the changing room. He giggles and makes dumb jokes, then goes to a restricted area of the mall to investigate. He emerges from the tunnel into a high voltage area, where the knocking seems to be louder. From out of the shadows, Eric pushes a cart into the poor guy, pinning him to an electrical panel. One of Pervy's eyes explodes out of his head, and lands in a container of frozen yogurt. I wonder if the writer of Clint Howard's Ice Cream Man  drew inspiration from this scene?

There's also a short, pointless scene where we see Melody and Suzie leave the clothing store. They pass by a piano player, who wishes them a good evening. Wasn't that worthy of wasting 1 minute of screen time? Any random shoppers want a line or two?

Anyway, we switch back to Harv. Mayor Karen walks into his office to congratulate him on a successful opening day, and offers him a seat on the city council. Fun Fact: the actor playing Harv is also the Dos Equis guy...Stay thirsty, my friends!

After the mayor makes her exit, the mutilated corpse of the security guy falls through the ceiling, landing on Harv's desk. Then we watch Suzie and Melody leave the mall and part ways. Melody's car won't start, When she gets out to look under the hood, a figure in black assaults her! Eric?

Nope. The Phantom is watching from a distance. As Melody tries to push her attacker away, Eric uses a crossbow to fire an arrow into the stranger's shoulder. The mayor drives up, and the would-be rapist escapes.

We see the body on Harv's desk up close, and there's a note on his uniform: AN EYE FOR AN EYE. Harv makes a phone call, and tells the person on the other end that he may need to hire him/her "again", which sounds rather ominous. Maybe it's a Stripper-gram. Or not.

Melody tells the mayor everything she can remember about her attacker, and includes the bit about the arrow. The mayor offers to drive her home, while she contacts the police herself. Do I smell a cover-up? Maybe...or just a stinky script.

Pete does some research, and finds an article about the fire. Then he has a flashback(pretty nifty, considering he wasn't there) where we see a scuzzy dude starting the fire at Eric's place. That segues into a scene where Eric and Melody are making love, which is treated like soap opera sex.

The music takes on a sinister tone, and Melody realizes that she saw who the arsonist was. And now he's screwing her in her dream. It all has to do with some earring, believe it or not. Then she wakes up.

Buzz and Pete meet up at the mall again, and they each need to do something important. Meanwhile, Eric is in his hideout, practicing some kickboxing moves. Someone wake me up when something interesting happens. I'm assuming no one will be waking me in the near future.

Harv tells the security chief that he fired Pervy last night, to keep the murder a secret. Then he hears that a third guard also went missing, which throws him...well, off-guard. He quickly tries to cover that up as well. This would have made a great Oliver Stone script!

Harv's son, meanwhile, is humping a pinball machine in the arcade. Remember the days when pinball was played in an arcade, instead of in a video game? The kid waits for the proprietor to leave his position at the front counter, then breaks into the machine to steal quarters. Bet he dies soon. Harv sees him in the mall, and flips out. He walks over to yell at his son, only to get a face full of soda spraying from a can. The son strolls away, laughing, while Harv tries to clean himself up.

Eric does more fight moves, while playing his and Melody's "song". Oh, and he watches a video of her, made up of stalker footage. How, um...romantic? Yeah, not so much.

Buzz takes Pete to the security area, and plays him some Hawaiian-sounding muzak. As Pete prepares to walk out, Buzz reveals that there are subliminal messages beneath the tune, urging customers to spend large amounts of money. Pete admits that the tape is creepy, but not illegal.

He starts to leave again, then sees a shifty character wearing a security uniform. It's the guy from Melody's nightmare, which, again, I must point out Pete wasn't a witness to. Pete runs out of the room, and tracks down the guy. He takes a photo of him, then the creepy guard decides to chase him.

They run around in different areas of the mall, like a food court and some escalators, until Pete narrowly escapes into a glass elevator. As he relaxes, the guard hangs upside-down on the top of the elevator, and even makes a comical snarling sound. I hate to admit this, but this movie's entertaining in a really dumb way.

Off of the elevator, the chase resumes. The shady pursuer collides with a guy hauling boxes, and stops chasing Pete long enough to get into a fistfight. Pete thinks he gave the guy the slip. He didn't, but he did find the mayor, and the creepy guy slips away.

Buzz flirts with a cute customer, and gives her a free yogurt. As she leaves, she finds the eyeball from earlier, and assumes that Buzz was pulling a prank. Only in a movie, would someone be this dumb. Wait a sec, someone did pull a stunt like this once, except that it involved a severed finger and some chili. So, even in reality, people are that dumb.

Melody starts up a jukebox, and it begins playing her "song". Then Pete arrives, and informs her that he may have a picture of her attacker. They talk about all of the strange things that have been happening to her, but neither can provide a logical answer to any of it. If they did, we could end this early...

Anyway, Mayor Karen and the head of mall security walk by the food court, and are discussing the mysterious attacker from the night before. The weird piano player overhears them, and decides to go on a coffee break. Oh, and Phantom Eric is watching. Maybe he's hoping for a piano rendition of his signature song.

The piano man(with apologies to Billy Joel...) enters an employees-only restroom, while Eric fiddles with the pipes nearby. It turns out that our meek musician is also Melody's would-be rapist! Crazy, huh? But yeah, he has the bloody shoulder wound to prove it.

He looks at his bloody shirt, sighs, then steps into a stall. When he sits on the toilet, a snake(maybe a cobra?) rears up between his legs, and gives the guy a fatal bite. What a classy way to die. I was kind of hoping that maybe, just maybe, he die in a toilet-geyser, or something like that.

Pete and Melody discuss how to discover the mystery stalker's identity, and sparks fly between them. There's nothing more romantic than a murderous lunatic watching your every move. The Phantom gets jealous, and smashes his mirror. Jealousy may be ugly, but Phantom Eric is uglier.

Harv's son returns to the mall, and spots Melody at work. He watches her for a little bit, then tries to pick her up. Eric sees the encounter and gets pissed, but Harv arrives to force his son off the premises.b As Justin(Harv's son...I decided to browse the Web until I could find his name) makes his way to the exit, he sees a skateboard, just sitting out in the open, waiting for someone to snatch it up. The Phantom moves through his dark passages, as Justin tries out some "rad" and "extreme" moves on his skateboard. I'm hip to the kids and their jive, man.

Eric stands at the top of an escalator, and whips a makeshift lasso around overhead, then loops it around Justin's neck. As the teen struggles to free himself, Phantom Eric gets the other end of the rope caught in the escalator belt, so that it pulls Justin upstairs to his doom. See? THIS is how the toilet murder should have gone down!

Justin tries to get some slack on the cord, but it won't give. His choking noises sound like the snarling rasps the victims made in Motel Hell...Boy, we've seen a shitload of these things together, huh? As Justin reaches the top, he coughs up some blood, then dies. Damn...was anybody else hoping for a decapitation? Oh well, it was still pretty nifty.

Melody and Pete talk some more about the investigation, as Eric drags Justin through his tunnels. Pete urges Melody to do everything she can to remember more details about the night of the fire, no matter how traumatizing the memories might be.

She remembers getting orchids, playing that insipid song, making out...then BOOM, Eric is suddenly a crispy critter. He helped her to escape through a window, even as he was burning, and then Melody fell to the ground, and got knocked out.

There is one extra detail, though: Before she passed out completely, Melody saw the arsonist standing in front of her. He planned to finish her off, but approaching sirens made the firebug skittish. Anyone smell burning steak? I think Eric is well done by now.

Pete suggests that Harv hired the arsonist. Then Melody suggests that maybe Eric survived the fire. Before they can plan a next step, the arsonist finds them and holds them hostage. In an awesome twist, the arsonist is played by the same actor who plays Mac's dad on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. It'd be funny if they turned out to be the same character!

Somehow, Pete manages to drive away, but the arsonist is in hot pursuit. The cars both speed through the mall's parking garage, and eventually Phantom Eric leaps onto the killer's car to help Pete and Melody get away. The crazy arsonist crashes his car, but also escapes as it burns up.

Pete and Melody dig up Eric's grave, and find it empty. They run to the mayor for help, while the arsonist reports his failed mission to Harv. Then Melody has another dream about knockin' boots with Eric, and he turns into Pete. Then Pete turns into the hired thug, and Melody wakes up. Is anyone else wondering if this thing will ever end? It seems like we've seen every scene 2-3 times now, with no resolution in sight.

Eric returns to the boiler room area, and it looks like he's setting up a bomb. Melody spots the thug, but he captures her before she can finish warning Pete. He drags her away, but Eric arrives to stop him. The 2 killers spar, and Eric nearly gets decapitated by a trash compactor door, but he finds a reserve of super-human strength, and forces the door back up again.

Eric then puts the other man in the same spot, but finishes the job. Oddly enough, it's the most bloodless kill so far. Eric realizes that Melody has escaped, and races off to locate her.

Buzz runs into Pete at the mall party, and rambles on about some "great idea", but Pete just wants to find Melody. Then Harv discovers the severed head of his hired goon, just after the security chief leaves. Don't you hate it when that happens?

Buzz finds Suzie, and drags her away to search for Melody. Then there are several shots of Eric's tunnels, and we finally see Melody, out cold, in his hideout. She wakes up as Eric's prisoner, and sees that he's been watching and recording her every move.

She hears the noise of his exercise equipment, and manages to find him by following the sound. The former lovers finally reunite, and Eric removes his mask, so that Melody can see the extent of the damage to his face. Eric vows to always protect her, and she touches his face. Awwww...

At the dinner Party, Pete asks around about Melody, but no one has seen her. Meanwhile Buzz and Suzie gain access to the security room, when Buzz distracts the guard by mooning him on a nearby camera. After all of the horrifying things I've seen in slasher films, this is the one that that I find the most disturbing.

When the guard leaves his post, they sneak in. Within minutes, they locate Melody's keys, and rush off to that particular hallway to pick up the trail. Yeesh, this is turning into Nancy Drew.

Eric tries to woo Melody, but she admits that she has feelings for Pete now. Eric runs away, probably to do something with his bomb. Meanwhile, Pete, Buzz, and Suzie are all closing in. Eric sets the bomb to explode in 30 minutes, Buzz and Suzie crawl around in the tunnels, unaware that Eric is now up there as well. Oh, and Pete spies rats feeding on a body, and decides to move faster.

Eric promises Melody that when the bomb goes off they can be together forever. Pete faces a snake on his way to rescue her, but he gets away unbitten. He finally finds the lair, and Melody watches her 2 boyfriends roll and and brawl. Melody stuns Eric by confessing that she loves Pete, and Pete uses the momentary distraction to knock him out.

They get back into the tunnels, but Eric wakes up. Buzz and Suzie reunite with Pete and Melody, and they work together to get back into the mall. Pete and Melody find and warn the mayor about the bomb, and she pulls out a gun....Huh?

Buzz and Suzie, in the meantime steal some kind of ATV, and go careening through the mall. As the mayor prepares to shoot her captives, Eric grabs her, and throws her through a window. Heh. Pete uses an intercom to evacuate the building, as Eric chases Melody up into the rafters.

The security chief shoots Eric several times, but he lands safely in front of Harv. He shows Harv his scarred visage, then kills the rich asshole with a blowtorch. Hey, maybe Harv survives, and ends up stalking Eric! Then we'd have Phantom of The Phantom of The Mall: Harv's Wrath!

Buzz and Suzie rescue Pete and Melody, and they speed out of the mall, just seconds before it blows to smithereens. The media goes nuts, and Melody and Pete celebrate being alive. In the wreckage, Eric looks dead, but his eye appears to open. THE END

Well....not unbearable, but not entirely successful either. Some of it was cheesy fun. The kills were varied enough, and Pauly Shore was mostly watchable for once, which was a surprise. 3.75 killer trees out of 5.

And what did Phantom of the Mall teach me about the slasher genre this time around?

-Even the Dos Equis guy had to start at the bottom.

-Pop music from the '80's sucked ass.

-If you survive a house fire, go live at the mall.

Next up is something called The Hunters. I'll post it when I can, but all of the hassle of this move is killing me. I'll post it soon, I promise.