‘Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge’ with lead Derek Rydall

phantom posterTitle:
Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge
Directed by:
Richard Friedman
Written by:
Scott Schneid and
Fredrick R. Ulrich
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?

For that matter, how crummy must your town be if they believe a shopping mall alone will put them on the map and even the Mayor is willing engage in a murder conspiracy in order to make it happen?

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,

‘My Cousin Vinny’ with director Jonathan Lynn

My Cousin Vinny (PG-13)
Written by:
Dale Launer
Directed by:
Jonathan Lynn
Joe Pesci as Vinny
Marissa Tomei as Mona Lisa
Fred Gwynne as Judge Chamberlain
Ralph Macchio as Billy
Mitchell Whitfield as Stan
Austin Pendleton John Gibbons
Lane Smith as Jim Trotter III
Bruce McGill as Sheriff Dean

By Scott Knopf from He Shot Cyrus

Pre-screening memories: Take one part Family-Friendly Home Invader, one part Rookie Martial Artist, and one part George Costanza Fantasy Object and you’ve got the formula for a movie Young Scott would have drooled over. And did. No distinct “initial Cousin Vinny screening” memories to speak of but I have plenty of memories of the film since then. My favorite Vinny memory is when I talked My Conservative Mother into watching this R-rated film with me with promises that probably sounded like “There’s nothing bad in it, maybe a little language.” My Conservative Mother enjoyed the movie then but denies it now.

Pesci and Tomei’s characters are incredibly unforgettable. The thick accents, Years after having seen it last, the most memorable scenes are undoubtedly the most mundane. Discussions on regional mud or how to properly prepare grits not only make for humorous dialogue but each play a pivotal role in the court case at the center of the film. Macchio, on the other hand, plays a not-so-memorable character whose friend and co-defendant is even more so. But they all serve their purpose and at the end of the day, you’ve got a movie that Scott, young and old, drools over.

New memories: The writing is so tight! Every little scene you think is unimportant or menial turns out to be a part of this gigantic puzzle. Vinny is right up there with that episode of “Law & Order” where those people stumble upon a dead body at the beginning. Herman Munster (his human name escapes me) is fantastic as the Southern judge with a distaste for shenanigans.

And of course, this movie is famous for the Oscar award that followed. The Academy and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye (Diane Lane in Unfaithful. Anyone? Anyone?) and with all the trash talk aimed towards them over Tomei’s win, I figured that the list of her competitors would be shocking and undeniably more deserving of statues. That’s what I figured until I read this list:

  • Miranda Richardson – Damage
  • Joan Plowright – Enchanted April
  • Vanessa Redgrave – Howard’s End
  • Judy Davis – Husbands and Wives

First, I have no idea who Miranda Richardson is.

Second, never heard of Damage either

C. Joan Plowright was great as Mrs. Wilson in the Dennis the Menace movie.

D. What’s Enchanted April?

Fifth, I won’t way anything bad about Vanessa Redgrave but Howard’s End is a 140-minute period piece romance taking place at the turn of the century. Which century, you ask? Not the twenty-first, I can tell you that.

E. Judy Davis? For Husbands and Wives? Thanks for trying, maybe next never.

So, these were the women who everyone thought should beat Marissa Tomei? The early 90s were an odd time for us all but this is just silly.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘My Cousin Vinny’ podcast right here

or make your case right on the site bu listening below:

Our featured guest: Director Jonathan Lynn

We once again welcome Jonathan Lynn, who actually knows a thing or two about law, having earned his degree years prior to his involvement in entertainment. Here, he chats about the casting process of Vinny, the prospective of an Englishman directing culture clashes between the States’ North and South, who was originally supposed to play Vinny, and the various rumors that have surrounded the film.

Find out about Vinny’s legacy as well as Lynn’s favorite scene in this particular podcast, and we are thankful to Mr. Lynn for hanging with us once again.

‘Lionheart’ with Harrison Page

Lionheart (1990)
Rated: R
Directed by:
Sheldon Lettich
Written by:
S.N. Warren (story)
Jean Claude Van Damme (screenplay)
Jean Claude Van Damme as Leon
Harrison Page as Joshua
Debra Rennard as Cynthia
Lisa Pelikan as Helene
Ashley Johnson as Nicole

 By Count Vardulon

jcvd kickPre-screening memories: I was old enough, when seeing Lionheart for the first time, that I can’t call it one of the most important formative movies of my childhood. True, I wasn’t a fan of martial arts films before seeing it, and afterwards I became something of a devotee of Van Damme’s, but the most vital part of the film for my developing fandom was that it reinforced the lesson, first taught by Tim Curry’s performance in the movie Clue, that following an actor from project to project would

A: Never disappoint, because if nothing else, you at least get to see a performance by someone whose work you enjoy, and

B: could possibly lead to discovering something fantastic.

harrison and jcvdWhich is my circuitous way of saying that my passion for the TV show Sledge Hammer! led directly to my lifelong love of watching people kicking other people in the face. Still inconsolable two full years after Sledge Hammer’s cancellation, seeing Harrison Page show up in television ads for upcoming film ‘Lionheart’ made me determined to see the film, which was rated a forbidding R, ensuring that I wouldn’t make it to the theatres.

When I finally saw the film on video it didn’t disappoint. Not only was Harrison Page fantastic in the film, but the action was unlike anything I’d seen in the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies that dominated my childhood, or even the occasional episode of Kung Fu. After all, who needed a machine gun when you could just spin really fast and crack someone across the jaw with your heel? A lifelong fan of the genre was born, as well as a devotee of Van Damme’s ‘all downhill from here’ ouevre.

jcvd blood

New memories: I’m frankly amazed by how good this movie was. Not having seen it in years, I’d assumed that it was going to be one of those embarrassingly Natsukashi moments (that’s how you use that word, right?) where I’d created an epic action extravaganza in my mind that never actually existed – this was certainly not the case. The action certainly wasn’t up to modern choreographic standards, but everything else about the film was far better than I’d remembered.

That’s right, what impressed me most about the film was that it worked, first and foremost, as a drama. Sounds crazy, right? Van Damme’s a pretty limited actor, especially at this fresh-faced stage of his career, before that personal and professional setbacks that would reduce him to the withered husk of ‘JCVD’, but damn if it doesn’t work in this part, as a simply good, almost naïve man struggling his way through the seamy world of underground fighting. He’s helped on this journey by the even-better-than-I-remembered-it performance of Harrison Page, who provides perhaps the most raw, vulnerable, and downright emotional performance I’ve ever seen in an action film. The way his Joshua starts out sad, defeated and desperate and gradually finds a kind of purpose and nobility in training Leon is a great character arc, and it brings him to a moment, right at the end, which is unlike anything I’ve seen in an American action film.

The other thing that amazed me about the movie (other than the fact that it’s a semi-remake of Midnight Cowboy – Who knew?) was the aspect that likely affected me most as a youngster, and that’s the utter contempt that the film shows for the upper classes who are funding the brutal no-holds-barred fights. If the film’s battles aren’t the most spectacular thing ever, their settings are absolutely stunning, and steeped in subtext. Van Damme’s first professional fight is in a parking garage beneath an office building, literally taking place in the underbelly of New York’s wealth-obsessed establishment. From there the action moves out to LA, but the satirical settings don’t stop – there’s a huge pool in a beachside mansion, a squash court, and a ring constructed from the luxury automobiles of the elite who have come to watch men beat each other nearly to death. This all leads up to the final battle which takes place well within the closed walls of the upper-class, a tennis court around the back of a palatial estate. The entire film works as an attack on the kind of people who commoditize human beings, and if the message gets a little heavy-handed at times (and it does), at least the movie was trying to say something important, unlike just about all of its brethren.

I loved Lionheart as a child. As an adult, crazy as it may seem, I respect it.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Lionheart’ podcast right here

Or dropkick below and listen on our player

harrisonOur featured guest: Harrison Page

Fascinated by film at an early age, Harrison sought the Hollywood dream after serving in the military.

He began, as most starting in the business do, by snagging small roles on television, film and stage. And looking back, has amassed a resume in an astonishing amount of popular shows, including C.P.O. Sharkey, Webster, Hill Street Blues, Fame, 21 Jump Street, The Wonder Years, Quantum Leap (which earned him an Emmy nod), Melrose Place, Ally McBeal, ER, JAG, and Cold Case, to name but a few.

But it was his role in the cult classic series Sledge Hammer! (yes, the exclamation point was in the title) that cemented him into certified pop culture status. In it, he played Captain Trunk, the Pepto-Bismal-swilling, beleaguered head of a police department featuring the titular vigilante office (played by David Rasche). (Ed. note–  If you are not putting this series on your Netflix queue this very moment, we don’t want to know you.)

Harrison spoke about his time spent on the set with a young Van Damme, his fond memories of Sledge, and the wisdom he’s amassed in his four decades of Hollywood. Thanks, Harrsion, from your pals at Natsukashi.

‘Caddyshack’ with Cindy Morgan

Caddyshack (1980)
Rated: R
Directed by:
Harold Ramis
Written by:
Bryan Doyle-Murray &
Harold Ramis Starring:
Chevy Chase as Ty Webb
Ted Knight as Judge Smails
Rodney Dangerfield as Al Czervik
Bill Murray as Carl Speckler
Michael O'Keefe as Danny Noonan
Cindy Morgan as Lacy Underall
Sarah Holcolmb as Maggie
Scott Colomby as Tony D'Annunzio
The Gopher as Himself

By Pete Hayes


Rodney and his Wang...no offense

Pre-screening memories: My dad was a huge Rodney Dangerfield fan. I remember listening to his records as a little youngster and also enjoying the humor, which balanced observational humor with just the right amount of silliness, which pretty much sums up my sense of humor today.

But while Dangerfield was perhaps the bait, I loved (and continue to love) Caddyshack for the fact that it was a veritable spectrum of comedic styles, each playing to their own strengths. Bill Murray plays the loveable slob he perfected in his days on Saturday Night Live. Chevy Chase was the quip-spouting motormouth he had later honed in the movies. And Ted Knight was the easily agitated time bomb that wrestled (to no avail) to keep a calm exterior.

bill pumping

Bill Murray, who's got that going for him

And, of course, there were the countless one-liners that emerged which were (and still are) repeated every time I strap on the spike and slide out my driver on the course. It is impossible to visit a golf course today without at least one or two scenes or sayings entering my head. I love sports movies, but rarely has one been so completely dominant in my head every time I play the game.

cindy chevy improv

Cindy and Chevy, in a completely improvised scene

New memories: Through the years, I think I have tended to favor one comedian or another from time to time, depending on what stage of life I was in (earlier it was Rodney, later it was Chevy, and perhaps in another few decades it will be Ted), but I lost respect for the others. And I would be remiss if I did not mention our guest for this podcast, Ms. Lacey Underall herself.  Seldom has an entrance into a film been so memorable. Through the years, I may gravitate toward certain comedic stylings, my appreciation for her has remained steadfast. Her addition to the proceedings can not be underestimated, as she provided the perfect balance of sensuality to the silliness.

Caddyshack is rightfully deserved of its inclusion in lists of top comedies of all time, and I can watch dozens of comedies each year, but I am sure it will always remain one of mine.

Download Natsukashi’s ‘Caddyshack’ podcast

Or head to the on-site back nine below:

Our featured guest: Cindy Morgan


Photo courtesy Cindy Morgan

Lacy may not have had all the zingers in Caddyshack, but make no mistake, even though Caddyshack was filled with top-tier comedians, all eyes were on her the moment she sauntered across the green of ???? Country Club.

It was quite an entrance for the former radio girl from Chicago, but she managed to make her mark at this boys club, including standing her ground with one Chevy Chase. It was a daunting task, but one in which helped cement her into iconic status. On film, she went on to create another legendary character, that of Yori in the cult classic Tron.

Currently, Cindy is putting the finishing touches of a coffe table book of her time spent on the set of Caddyshack, which should be released in 2010. Here, she shares some of those memories, including her famous dive into the pool, her mad golfing skills and her tangle with producers which led to her being left off or downgraded on almost all the promotional material of the film.

Thanks, Cindy, for letting us shoulder your bags for a little while here at Natsukashi.

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