Consumption and Carnage!!!

This batch of Brain Hammer approved PICKS FROM THE CRYPT are a terrible trio of clas-sick 80’s horror flicks that all take place within the cozy corporate confines of everybody’s favorite hang out spot – the shopping mall! (and a furniture store!) These sloppy shopping sprees don’t just cause massive credit card bills, they also quickly rack up staggering body counts. Prices aren’t the only things being slashed…

CHOPPING MALL (1986)

At Park Plaza Mall the security force isn’t just tight – it’s terrifying! A shady looking criminal learns this the hard way in the opening scene, which is also a promotional reel for the revolutionary Protector 101 Series robots. The Protectors are a trio of motorized security guards specially designed to detain intruders and send an alarm to police. These modern marvels are armed with close range sleep darts, incredibly strong retractable claw arms, and lasers that can cut through debris. As a vaguely scientific type explains the Protector’s special features, Paul Bartel & Mary Woronov (“Rock ‘N’ Roll High School,” “Eating Raoul”) make a quick cameo and add some witty quips.

Four young couples make plans to have an after hours slumber party inside the mall furniture store the same night the Protectors are set to go online for the first time. The gang includes Ferdy – a nerd with a great personality, a goofy looking candidate for prickhood named Michael, a bucktoothed geek named Craig and their respective love interests; Alison, Leslie, and Suzie. There’s also another couple, but they’re pretty much body count material (although the chick has the film’s most memorable line).

As the kids settle in for an evening of romance in the store, disaster strikes upstairs. More specifically, lightning strikes the generator on the roof of the mall three times in a row! Unfortunately for everyone inside Park Plaza, the Protectors were recharging their batteries at that exact same moment and the massive amounts of electricity cause the robots to snap and become killbots. The killbots use their deadly claws to interrupt a cigarette smoking technician’s centerfold stroke fest and rip out another tech’s throat. Then the three deadly mechanical guards begin making their nightly rounds throughout the mall. Legendary actor Dick Miller (“Piranha,” “Gremlins”) makes an brief appearance in his trademark role of Walter Paisley and gets electrocuted.

Michael wanders off to buy his girlfriend Leslie a pack of after-sex smokes and gets a taste of the Protector’s now lethal sleep darts. When Leslie wonders off to find Michael we are treated to a magnificent close up of her pink Playboy panties. Then the killbots catch up to her and blow her head up real good with a mighty laser blast!

It doesn’t take long for the seemingly indestructible robots to smash through the glass of the furniture store windows and begin attacking the surviving three couples. The guys force the girls to crawl inside the ventilation ducts in an effort to reach the parking level, and then break into the always conveniently located shopping mall gun store and arm themselves with guns and propane tanks. Eventually the girls join in on the assault too and all hell breaks loose. Spending the night in the chopping mall will cost them an arm and a leg… and a head.

This 80’s masterpiece was co-written and directed by the amazing Jim Wynorski of “Slumber Party Massacre II” and “Hard To Die” legend. Being a Corman/Concorde production, this flick has an unmistakable cheesy vibe. Nothing here is meant to be taken seriously. Check out the sleazy pizzeria with a “Slumber Party Massacre” poster on the wall! The acting is pretty good in my opinion. 80’s horror fans will enjoy seeing scream queen favorites Kelly Maroney (“Night Of The Comet”) and Barbara Crampden (“Re-Animator”) in action. I am a HUGE fan of Suzee Slater (“Savage Streets”), who steals the show as the smoking hot blonde with incredible tits that refuses to let her boyfriend go down on her and then demands that he buy her cigarettes after they have sex! Her death scene is so good they even show it again during the end credits.

The killbots were created by Richard Short and they look fantastic. The many scenes of the Protectors in action are very well done, especially considering the low budget of the film. The voices of the killbots were provided by none other than Jim Wynorski himself. There’s no shortage of gunfire and explosions, and there should be more than enough throat ripping, railing kills, and immolation to keep viewers riveted. The film’s brief running time is actually an asset, as this flick never wears out it’s welcome or becomes tiresome. It’s non stop fun and action from start to finish.

The good folks at Lionsgate released an excellent dvd of CHOPPING MALL that includes some very nice bonus features for diehard fans to enjoy. There’s an awesome commentary track with Jim Wynorski and co-writer Steve Mitchell and a 15 minute featurette entitled “Creating The Killbots” that explains the origins of the creatures. The theatrical trailer and a nice photo gallery are also included. The print was obviously lifted from the old Lightning Video vhs – so the quality leaves a little bit to be desired, but that is a small complaint considering the wealth of bonus features and the cheap retail price. This is a flick that no respectable horror collection should be missing!

 

HIDE AND GO SHRIEK (1988)

The nifty pre-credits sequence features loving closeups of what appears to be a man (we never see his face) applying makeup over his stubbled cheeks. He then throws on some eyeliner and lipstick before hopping into his car to go cruising for whores. The man quickly picks up a blonde tits-on-a-stick hooker and takes her into a back alley to fuck her against a wall for a spell before stabbing her with a switchblade. Cue opening credits.

We then meet a pair of buff young bros named John & David. The lads are pumping iron and planning a big evening with some gals and pals. In what has to be one of the gayest things I’ve ever seen or heard, David actually tells John that “It’s time to motivate. It’s time to shower!” while knowingly nibbling on a banana! Then we get to meet the girls, a rather skanky and unappealing foursome consisting of: Kim the whore, Bonnie the bitch-whore, Malissa the virgin, and Judy the virgin with a boyfriend. Malissa is excited about the possibility of having sex for the first time, and Kim assures her that “You’re going to love making love. You’ll never want to stop.” She also lends her a sexy black negligee for the special occasion!

Two more idiots named Randy and Shawn (also a virgin) show up so that everybody has a fuck buddy and once paired up the eight imbeciles embark on “the adventure of their lives,” which sadly consists of a “Chinese Fire Drill” and sneaking inside the large furniture store owned by John’s father for a night of drunken hide and seek. If this is truly “the adventure of their lives” it must be said that their lives are fairly pathetic. The gang hides out until the store closes for the evening. John’s father is briefly shown after closing, and we also get introduced to a dock worker named Fred – a creepy looking tattooed ex con who was recently released on good behavior after a long and lonely stretch in the joint for armed robbery. John’s father is nice enough to let Fred stay inside the store after hours because Fred just broke up with his girlfriend and has no place else to go.

Once night falls and the store is deserted, the kids come out of hiding and begin the night’s festivities. As the title suggests, a good portion of the film consists of kids playing hide and seek inside the large dark store. This is about as interesting as watching paint dry. The creative touch is that this is a “fine furniture”store, which means there are plenty of beds for the horny teens to jump in and out of while they play. Things pick up considerably once the killer shows up and bashes Malissa’s head into a sink just before she can try out her new nightie. The transvestite killer slips into it instead and then gives her eagerly awaiting love interest the shock of his young life, just before impaling him on giant spikes!

The giggling madman frequently switches disguises and happily stalks after the kids while wearing the clothes of their dead friends. Once the dimwitted teens finally discover that there is a killer in their midst they “arm” themselves with the deadliest weapon they can find – mannequin arms (!) and go looking to turn the tables. But who is this crazed cross dresser with a thirst for carnage, and what brought him to the store in the first place? The incredible answers to those questions are revealed in the mind blowing ending, which I do not wish to spoil for anyone. All I will say is that the identity and motivations of the madman are very “unique,” and make this otherwise forgettable slasher flick quite memorable.

Calling this “otherwise forgettable” might be a bit harsh, because I do enjoy this flick quite a bit. It’s certainly a product of the gloriously cheesy 80’s. The hair and fashions (check out the sweet jams the character David is wearing!) on display are truly cringe worthy. Extra special attention must be given to lead actress Bunky Jones, who sports one of the skankiest slut outfits ever captured on film. I also have to applaud director Skip Schoolnik for his infinitely wise decision to have three of his four leading ladies take their tops off! Hats off Skip!

The dark store makes an ideal setting for this type of slasher flick. There are quite a few scenes of the kids trying to find their missing friends that manage to be tense and atmospheric. This flick takes it’s time to get going, but once it does it rarely stops to let you catch your breath. The splatter effects were done by the legendary lunatic Screaming Mad George. The highlight of the film for gorehounds is an elaborate set piece that concludes with a nude girl being decapitated by an elevator! A rather weak body count is the film’s only major fault. I wanted all of these annoying kids to die and was a little disappointed to see so many of them still alive and kicking when the end credits rolled.

Sadly, HIDE AND GO SHRIEK has slipped into semi-obscurity. There hasn’t been an official dvd release as of yet, and the rights to the film seem to be in dispute. I would love to see a special edition dvd with a director’s commentary and perhaps a “where is she now” piece on Bunky Jones! Fans of fun 80’s slasher flicks with perverse twists and turns such as “Sleepaway Camp” and “Girls Nite Out” should really appreciate this.

 

PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE (1989)

A pack of ruthless politicians and land developers will stop at nothing to obtain a valuable piece of land for it’s use as the location of a brand new giant shopping mall. The stubborn homeowners refuse to move, so the bastards burn down their house – accidentally killing the family in the process with the sole exception of teenage son Eric.

Eric manages to escape but is horribly disfigured from the fire. His life now thoroughly ruined, Eric withdraws from society and hides out inside the massive catacombs underneath the shopping mall. After about one year spent listening to power ballads, pumping iron, and decorating his secret hideout with lots of expensive looking furniture, Eric goes batshit insane and finally decides to seek revenge. Armed with conveniently located knives, crossbow, poisonous snakes, and massive amounts of dynamite, Eric unleashes an all out assault on the shopping mall. Not content with just killing the people directly responsible for his family’s deaths, the phantom of the mall preys upon anyone at all who crosses his deadly path.

A reporter named Peter teams up with Eric’s sensitive ex-girlfriend Karie and her comic relief best friend Buzz (a fresh faced, pre “weasel” Pauly Shore!) to investigate the murders and try to stop Eric before he can chop up more innocent shoppers. Their brilliant detective work eventually uncovers the deadly secrets of the mall’s origins and the kids wind up at the mercy of the town’s evil mayor, inexplicably played by Morgan Fairchild and all 48 pounds of her fluffy blonde hair! This leads to the explosive finale where the film finally lives up to it’s name.

This flick is hilarious, and most of the laughs are unintentional. This is the only version of “Phantom Of The Opera” you will ever see that features a kung fu fighting phantom in a high school varsity jacket. The shopping mall location and satire was probably meant to feel hip and fresh. It was already done to perfection years before by George A. Romero in “Dawn Of The Dead.” (Speaking of which, DOTD veteran Ken Foree has a small role here) This 1989 effort from director  Richard Friedman (“Scared Stiff”) plays more for laughs than earlier 80’s slasher flicks, and is mostly held together by a string of over the top and amusing creative death scenes.

The death scenes are definitely what keeps things interesting here. The shopping mall location allows violent death by escalator, exhaust fan blade, and incinerator door. There’s a great forklift face smash featuring a flying eyeball that later winds up in a dish of fro-yo! My personal favorite was the deadly cobra bite to the crotch. Where Eric found a poisonous cobra in the mall remains a mystery for the ages.

There’s nothing resembling scares or suspense. The story sucks, the music is horrible (with the sole exception of the kick ass punk rock theme song which was provided by the Vandals!), and the acting is pitiful. Other than that, this is a great flick. Seriously. I can’t help but pick this one apart and take the piss out of it, but PHANTOM OF THE MALL: ERIC’S REVENGE is still 100% Brain Hammer approved. You can’t go wrong with this one on a Saturday night with a few beers and buds.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

One Response to “Consumption and Carnage!!!”

  1. Dave Callahan Says:

    I saw these films in the theater! Great reviews. Keep spilling the blood and splattering the brains !!!

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