Post Thanksgiving is a time of food coma recovery, spending time with loved ones, often going to the movies, and sweet, sweet Black Friday deals that people will literally brawl over! Fortunately, with a lot of these sales moving to safer internet venues, I thought it would be fun to list a few great horror movies set at the mall to show the kinds of danger you maybe avoiding this year…
DAWN OF THE DEAD (1976)
The classic socio-political horror satire of consumerism from the king of the zombies, George Romero. Following the events of Night Of the Living Dead, zombies are everywhere and cannot seem to be stopped. A small group of survivors try to find the safest, and most equipped place to ride out the undead armageddon – at the mall! Unfortunately, so did a huge mob of zombies. The ghouls congregating there, as one charcter notes after they question why “Some kind of instinct. Memory, of what they used to do. This was an important place in their lives.” All while watching the clueless and dumb zombies wander the mall aimlessly, unable to do anything but shamble and consume.
CHOPPING MALL (Feature Image)
Now we move into the height of mall based mayhem with that most excellent decade, the eighties! Malls were the peak of commerce and social gatherings, so it makes sense that the malls of suburban Los Angeles would want to beef up security… with deadly force! The mall establishes some fool-proof sentry droids to keep the peace, only for the mechanized mall cops to go haywire after some kids sneak in after hours, now terminating any living thing in their way with explosive laser blasts!
NIGHT OF THE COMET
What happens when the apocalypse hits Beverly Hills? Some very fashionable survivors trying to fight off zombie hordes and evil scientists! After the Earth experiences an extinction level event, passing through the radioactive tail of the titular comet, all that are left are those who survived by staying in steel lined locations, government agents, and irradiated undead who’re slowly disintegrating into dust. Thankfully for our teenage heroes, the malls of Beverly Hills pack uzis.
SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA
Another Linnea Quigley horror classic. A group of pledges will do anything to get into the big sorority, be it paddling or breaking and entry. The college kids and following nerds unwittingly unleash a wish granting Imp while trying to steal a bowling trophy from the mall/bowling alley in a strange turn of events. “Uncle Impy” seems like a pretty stand-up wish granting demon at first… but then heads start rolling and are used to hit some strikes!
PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE
The trend of mall based horror in the eighties gave us perhaps one of the more bizarre interpretations of The Phantom Of The Opera. A newly built mall experiences multiple ‘accidents’ that are in fact murders staged by Eric, the titular Phantom Of The Mall. His body was horribly disfigured in a fire concocted by the greedy developers who wanted his family’s land to build the mall and now he’s back with a vengeance! And anyone who harasses or attacks his former girlfriend Melody also has to go. Lots of great kills in this one, and featuring Pauly Shore as the comic relief!
EIGHT LEGGED FREAKS
A modern day B-Movie starring David Arquette and Scarlett Johannson that has some topical jokes on mall economics. The small town of Prosperity, Arizona is as nearly dried up as its former goldmine. Attempts to kickstart the economy with a new mall… created a desolate mall. And now toxic waste has created thousands of deadly, giant spiders to make things worse. All leading to a climactic battle at the shopping center when the surviving townspeople barricade themselves in and stock up on anything they can find to fight off the arachnid hordes.
DAWN OF THE DEAD (2004)
The well regarded remake written by James Gunn and directed by Zack Snyder, managing to recapture the horror and political sensibilities of the original with a heaping dose of action. Ana, a young nurse, awakens to find the neighborhood kid zombified and soon chewing on her husband. After a chaotic escape showcasing the sheer destructive fallout of a fast acting and fast running zombie apocalypse, she and other survivors find themselves at the modern mall run by some armed authoritarian security guards. They manage to take control, but as time moves on, and the undead horde grows, they find that living at the mall gets pretty old, pretty fast…