Title: Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge Rated:R Directed by: Richard Friedman Written by: Scott Schneid and Fredrick R. Ulrich Starring: Derek Rydall as Eric Matthews Rob Estes as Peter Baldwin Pauly Shore as Buzz Jonathan Goldsmith as Harv Posner Kimber Sissons as Suzie
By Scott Foy aka The Foywonder
Pre-Screening Memories: Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge was one of numerous movies I would see commercials for on TV as a teen but the movies never came to a theater near me, but you better believe I was the first to rent them on the day they hit VHS. I also put the film firmly in the category of being one of those movies you want to be better than it actually is because you dig the premise and you still have a soft spot for it despite being fully aware of its many shortcomings. One more rewrite is probably all the film needed.
I was never completely sure if I was supposed to be rooting for or against Eric. He's a movie slasher with a sense of righteousness, out for revenge against the greedy developers that tried to kill him and his parents by burning their house down in order to steal the land they need to build a new shopping mall and protecting the girlfriend who believes he is dead as she and a new hunk embark in a Scooby-Doo mystery to learn the truth about the house fire. But then he turns right around and becomes a psychopathic ex-boyfriend when she starts falling for the new guy.
I also never understood why he waited until the mall was built to strike. Where was he during that period of time and why didn't he do everything in his power to sabotage the construction?
There is no forgetting the signature scene of the film when Eric rappels from banners hung from the mall rafters and crashes through an office window in order to confront Mayor Morgan Fairchild, who was in on the arson conspiracy against he and his family, and then gorilla presses her above his head (quite a feat of strength given Eric never looked to be a physical powerhouse) and throws her out the two-story window to her death. I saw that scene on multiple TV movie and review shows at the time, which after seeing the movie for the first time struck me a dubious since they essentially gave away the end of the movie as a promotional clip.
Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge also featured in a supporting role a pre-MTV Pauley Shore in what may have been the least Pauley Shore-ish performance of his career. Eric does not kill him, and for that I am forced to further deduct points.
Other things I recall: the mall is the same from Chopping Mall, a pre-Silk Stalkings Rob Estes as the new love interest, not the best make-up job on Eric's face (a big reveal in the movie given away on the VHS artwork), the lead actresses nude scenes being an obvious body double, and the awesome theme song played during the closing credits is almost worth the price of admission alone.
One last question I have always wondered about is why they included the "Eric's Revenge" sub-title instead of just simply calling it Phantom of the Mall. Tacking on "Eric's Revenge" to the title seemed a bad idea because it's not a sequel and the name Eric is hardly distinct. I wasn't going to see that Phantom of the Mall flick but now that I know Eric will be getting his revenge...
Download Natsukashi's 'Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge 'podcast here
or have a listen at our own little on-site food court below:
Our featured guest: Derek Rydall
Derek is the titular "hero" (though much better looking than the film's poster would have you believe) and has since gone on to help others in the industry, publishing two best-selling books (There's No Business Like Soul Business and I Could've Written a Better Movie Than That and operating two sites, ScriptwriterCentral.com and EnlightenedEntertainer.com to help others recognize their potential. Derek had some rather interesting tales of what was originally planned for Phantom that would have further cemented its cult status.
Thanks again, Derek. Revenge was sweet,