The Best Horror Movies Set in Malls
Let’s face it: malls are scary places. Gigantic monuments to our soulless pursuit of discount material goods they seem to sum up everything bad about the entire universe in a single out-of-town warehouse. Simply walking up to their doors early on a Sunday morning can feel like slipping through into an alternative reality where everything’s running a real Stepford Wives vibe… so it’s no surprise that horror movies should frequently pick them as a backdrop. Oh, and also there are lots and lots of power tools lying around every mall. Maybe that has something to do with it…
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
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Here it is: the beast that started them all. As the world boils and American cities fall victim to hordes of the undead, a small band of survivors holes up in a shopping mall to wait out the zombie apocalypse. Unlike most of the entries on this list, George A. Romero’s vintage shocker had a point to make with its setting. A blackly humorous allegory for our mindless pursuit of creature comforts, the film works even better in our post-recession world, where the One Percent see most of us as simply so much dead flesh clogging up their paradise. Satire was never better or – indeed – gorier.
Chopping Mall (1986)
Fast forward nearly a decade and B-movies had moved on from satire or subtlety, and Chopping Mall is perhaps the zenith of this trashy phase. A bunch of sex-addicted teens (who else?) get trapped overnight in a hi-tech shopping mall – only to have the robot guards go homicidal on their petite and well-toned asses. Exploding heads, buckets of blood and a feel of urgent camp are soon soaking the screen; conjuring a film that is either the most-awesome or most-awful you’ve ever seen, depending on the amount of grass you just smoked.
Night of the Comet (1984)
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If Dawn of the Dead was like making satire with a sledgehammer, Night of the Comet is like making it by exploding a nuclear device. Brash, loud, camp and oh-so-eighties, this shlock horror features a couple of rich valley girls who survive an apocalyptic comet ‘strike’ and go on the shopping spree of a lifetime. Too bad an army of zombies are waiting to keep them in check. If you squint really hard you can just about make out the beginnings of a crude takedown of 1980s American teen and consumer culture. However, the mall is really just an excuse to blow the location budget on campy special effects – and here the film certainly doesn’t disappoint.
Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989)
Considered awful even by people who obsessively collect 1980’s Z-Movie horror films, Phantom of the Mall features a guy who gets badly burnt then retires to live beneath a shopping mall. Yes… it’s Phantom of the Opera, done on a considerably lower budget, with plodding direction and a soundtrack that will make even the most-ardent fan of 80s awfulness wish it would just naff off and die. Is there a single redeeming feature to Eric’s Revenge? In a word: no.
Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1987)
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Another ‘zombie’ movie that deftly avoids a Romero lawsuit by finding an alternative explanation for things – in this case, it’s a wish-granting imp that’s created the killer undead (don’t ask). Mostly just an excuse to show three very, very curvy ladies showering together and getting spanked for a large part of the runtime, SBSBOR nonetheless scores highly in the camp stakes; and doubtless supplied a whole generation of delinquent children with their first inklings of their own heterosexuality. See the spanking scene if you don’t believe me; it appears to have been cut-in from a spare reel of porno the director had lying around.
Abbie Walters is currently working with Gift Library, founded by CEO Caroline Stanbury in 2008. Gift Library offers a unique combination of Personal Shopping and fulfilment for high-end luxury gifts.