Phantom of the Mall: Ericís Revenge! - Phantom of the Mall: Ericís Revenge!(Blu Ray) [Arrow Video - 2021]
Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge! is a late 80’s stab at the slasher genre, and it’s a much more action-packed and soapy camp example of the stalk ‘n’ slash form. The film is set in a recently opened mall, where a badly burnt killer is stalking his victims via the ventilation shafts- with the film features some fairly inventive kills, and enough 80’s cheese to spread on a whole loaf of bread. Here from Arrow Video, both in the UK and Stateside, is a new double-disc Blu Ray release, featuring three cuts of the film, two commentary tracks, and some other extras.
Appearing right at the tail end of the 80’s slasher run in the 1989 Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge! was directed by Richard Friedman, who had previously helmed two other decidedly campy slashers Scared Stiff and Doom Asylum- both from the year 1987, and both have also received releases on Arrow Video. The film is meant to be an 80’s version of Gaston Leroux's classic horror story The Phantom Of The Opera, and it does manger to blend original plot points/ elements- with a mall bound camp.
The film is based around the opening of a new US Mall, with the grand opening being hosted by massive permed haired Mayor Karen Wilton (Morgan Fairchild), and sleek ‘n’ slimy businessman Harv Posner (Jonathan Goldsmith). Also at the launch, we have working-in-the-mall-teens blond ponytail to the side Melody (Kari Whitman), her friend Suzie (Kimber Sissons), and joker Buzz(Pauly Shore). They are joined by serious and stern young journalists Peter (Rob Estes), causing chaos Justin (F13 6’s Tom Fidnley), who's the son of businessman Posner.
We find out that Melody’s boyfriend Eric (Derek Rydall) seemingly burnt to death in one of the last houses that was on the plot the mall now stands. She starts receiving presents left for her, and it’s clear Eric is not really dead- and instead is watching all that is going on in the mall. Unfortunately, Eric's experience has left him somewhat deranged- so he first starts taking out those who go up into the air vents- with kills like face into fan attacks and face crushing eyeball popping’s. Fairly soon he’s risking going down into the mall- with these kills going from roped up and dragged into an escalator, snake bites on manhood’s, etc. Also, when he appears later on, he starts Kung Fu flighting too.
As you can imagine with this type of plot/ set-up the tone is fairly light and popcorny- with a general Us soap feel to the drama/ interaction that wraps around the murders and Eric stalkings. We also have very campy romantic between silk sheets interactions between Eric and Melody before he was burnt, with repeated use of an AOR power ballad. On the whole, it's an entertaining slasher ride, though you most certainly need to enjoy the genre at its more cheese and camp bound.
Moving onto this new Blu Ray release- and it’s a double-disc affair. On the first disc, we get the original theatrical cut of the film (90 mins), and extras. The 2K scan of the film looks very good- with great bold colours and clear definition/ clarity. On the film we get two new commentary tracks- the first is with director Richard Friedman, moderated by filmmaker Michael Felsher. This starts off with the director talking about how he got into filmmaking and his first film 1984’s Death Mask. He moves on to talk about his other horror films, and episodes of horror TV series, before moving on to how he got the offer of Phantom of The Mall. As we go on, he discusses how certain actors were signed up, chats about the mall & how it was like filming in it. He talks about the shot set-ups, non-mall/ sets, and the film's production. All making for a good directors’ track. The next track is with disc producer Ewan Cant and film historian/author Amanda Reyes. And as expected this is a chatty, entertaining, and fact/ opinion filled track. The pair start off talking about how/ when they first saw the film. Comment on how the film has a TV movie/ mystery feel, talk about how the original script differed from the finished film. They move on to discuss how the different cuts vairy/their differences, talking about how the film compares to other slashers of the time and generally interesting facts/ observations about the film. All in all, a most worthy track.
We get a third sort of semi track- this finds Michael Felsher conducting stand-alone audio interviews with the films score composer Stacy Widelitz, and Robert J. Koster- the films executive producer.
Next, we get Shop Til’ You Drop!: The Making of Phantom of the Mall- a forty-two-minute new doc about the picture. This is good and in-depth, starting off with interviews with the films original screenwriters, moving on to discussing how the project changed/ developed. As we move on, we get interviews with the film’s director, cast, and crew. There’s The Vandals Go to the Mall- a twelve-minute interview with Joe Escalante of The Vandals, discussing how/ why they came to write their song for the film. Otherwise, on this first disc we get alternate and deleted scenes from the TV Cut, domestic and international trailers, image gallery, Scott J. Schneid and Tony Michelman’s original script and associated special effects storyboards by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. [BD-ROM Content].
Onto the second disc we get two other cuts of the film- TV Cut with Standard Definition inserts for the footage unique to this version (89 mins), and Integral Fan Cut combining footage from both the Original Theatrical and TV Cuts for the ultimate Phantom of the Mall experience (96 mins). The finished release features a 60-page fully illustrated perfect-bound book taking in 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 a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Justin Osbourn.
In conclusion, the folks at Arrow Video have done another classy and thorough job of this double-disc set, and so great the label still giving so much love to the 80’s slasher genre in general. If you enjoy more popcorn bound slice 'n' dice, this release is most certainly a must!.Roger Batty