For those of you wise enough to stay home and eschew the horrific crowds of shoppers during Black Friday in the United States (and for those who have already finished your shopping), I present you with a series of horror movies set in shopping centers! Sit back and relax as you graze on turkey sandwiches and leftover stuffing, all while feasting your eyes on the bloody consequences of a consumer society. This year, turn Black Friday blood red!
Of course, the first horror movies set in a shopping mall that most people will probably think of are Dawn of the Dead (1978) and its 2004 remake, but that’s a little too easy. Instead, I wanted to dig a deeper and show some lesser known movies, or at least movies that horror fans might not have thought about in a good long while. So with that, here are five tales of blood and terror that might make you a little more wary next time you decide to brave the malls during this holiday season!
Chopping Mall (1986)
Chopping Mall is about a group of teens who decide to stay in a mall after hours for a night of partying. Unfortunately for them, the mall’s newly installed security measures feature robots who, after a bolt of lightning scrambles their circuits, turn into mechanized killing machines. It’s kind of like Short Circuit if it took place in a mall and Johnny Five had started murdering everyone. Trapped and hunted, the teens have to fight back in an attempt to survive the night. This movie has some great mayhem, cheesy 1980s laser blast effects, and some fun death scenes.
This is the second directorial effort by Jim Wynorski who would go on to direct many, many movies including greats such as Vampirella and Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre. Wynorski has said that he was inspired by the 1954 movie Gog which I haven’t seen, but which looks very similar. It seems that killer robots have been a fear for a very long time, but as time moves on the threat might be more real than we’d like to imagine.
Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989)
This is the one movie on the list which I haven’t actually seen yet, but as I understand it’s like Phantom of the Opera, only, you know, in a mall. The eponymous Eric was thought to be dead after his house burned down under suspicious circumstances, but a mysterious figure who has a keen interest in Eric’s former girlfriend has been spotted in the mall built upon the ashes of Eric’s former residence. With a cast featuring Pauly Shore, Morgan Fairchild, and Ken Foree, this certainly seems like something I’d enjoy.
The Initiation (1984)
Horror movies and sororities seem to go hand-in-hand, so it’s no surprise that two movies on this list feature groups of college girls getting into trouble in shopping malls. The Initiation stars Daphne Zuniga (probably best known as Princess Vespa from Spaceballs, but who is also featured in The Dorm the Dripped Blood and The Fly II) as a sorority initiate who becomes trapped and stalked in a mall long with her fellow pledges. With appearances by Clu Gulager (Return of the Living Dead) and Vera Miles (Psycho), The Initiation is a solid movie with some nice moments.
Bio Zombie (1998)
Bio Zombie is a goofy horror comedy made in Hong Kong about two scheming VCD store employees who unwittingly unleash a zombie horde on the mall they work in. The makeup effects aren’t great, the direction is very cheesy, and the ending is surprisingly depressing, but Bio Zombie is an awful lot of fun to watch. Bio Zombie is one of the early films of director Wilson Yip who is probably best known around the world for the Ip Man series starring Donnie Yen.
Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama (1988)
Linnea Quigley. Brinke Stevens. Michelle Bauer. These three names are synonymous with low-budget horror and are really the only reasons you need to watch Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-rama. This movie contains elements from all the previous movies on this list. Teenagers trapped in a mall. Sorority girls sent on a mission. A mysterious, supernatural creature unwittingly released to wreak havoc. This movie is pretty terrible, but in that charming way that only 1980s horror movies could manage.
So there you have it, five classic horror movies set in a mall to watch while you recover from your Thanksgiving Day food coma. If you want to watch all of these movies non-stop, check out the playlist I created on YouTube. It’s over seven hours of Red Friday greatness.