Directed by Richard Friedman
Starring Derek Rydall, Jonathan Goldsmith and Kari Whitman
It’s opening day for the new mall but someone is lurking in the shadows (and ventilation system) killing people. Turns out the mall developers burned down the house of a holdout refusing to sell and Eric, who survived the torching, is killing anyone involved with what happened to him and taking out anyone who gets too close to his ex-girlfriend. It’s “Phantom of the Opera” … in a mall!
I’m guessing by the title we’re led to believe this was a re-imagining/re-telling/updated version of the classic “Phantom of the Opera” story though the plot covers just enough to make that link tenuous at best. While the film has a scarred anti-hero named Eric, wearing the iconic mask which looks silly when worn with sweats and a ball cap, he hides in the ventilation system of a mall and watching security videos of his next targets while also keeping tabs on his old flame.
The romantic subplot of the original story is lost amongst bad acting and eventually just gets tossed out the window. You kind of feel bad for Eric because he’s looking out for his girlfriend, Melody, whom he saved in the same fire he was scarred in. He eventually kidnaps Melody, bringing her to the basement and showing that he’s still alive however she doesn’t love him anymore and has moved on. So he decides to bomb the whole mall with them and everyone else inside. There goes that little bit of sympathy I had for Eric.
The whole film is beyond silly, I can’t believe this was taken seriously. Adapted just enough to pass as a slasher film, the plot is a ridiculous “update” on a classic story of love and revenge. None of the characters are likeable, but with the terrible dialogue and questionable performances by some of the actors, the bad guys come off like comic book super villains while even the good characters are seen as jerks. When Pauly Shore is considered one of the better actors in a movie, you know you’re in trouble.
The special effects are the highlight of the film, though they too are comically overdone. Our Phantom is adept with a crossbow and a knife, but being in a mall opens up other possibilities to kill people. A security guard gets his head jammed into a ventilation fan, the Phantom stops by the pet shop to pick up a cobra to kill the piano player in a bathroom, another guard gets his head cut off by a box crusher after losing a (what else?) martial arts fight with the Phantom. Even the Phantom was into karate in the ‘80s. Maybe my favourite scene was the Phantom electrocuting a guy and his eyeballs popped out for some reason.
There aren’t many reasons to recommend hunting down this film. The kill scenes are fun in a bad way, easily the best reason to watch the movie. There’s an early performance by Pauly Shore before he became “The Weasel” if you can imagine that. Also, the main villain of the film, Jonathan Goldsmith, is now mostly known as the “Most Interesting Man in the World” in the Dos Equis beer commercials. And for horror street cred, Ken Foree shows up as a security guard in a few scenes. That guy shows up in the weirdest movies.
Story: 2 – The film steals the Phantom’s face mask for the killer and adapts the story just enough to make it a generic slasher/teenage drama fest.
Blood: 6 – Easily the only real reason to recommend, there are some cool and quirky kills and action scenes that almost make the movie worth it.
Nudity: 2 – Women changing on security cameras for the voyeurs out there. Pauly Shore moons the camera for the sadists out there.
Overall: 2 – It doesn’t work as a horror movie; it’s not scary. It’s definitely not a comedy but it’s awfully stupid all throughout the film. It’s a pointless update of a classic story and inept in almost every way.
-Came out just one month after another version of “Phantom of the Opera” was released, that one starring Robert Englund that also was adapted into a slasher movie though it remained quite faithful to the original source material.
-A better movie about teens killed in a mall would be Jim Wynorski’s “Chopping Mall.”