Sunday, 16 December 2012

5 Films about Shopping Nightmares

I'm not a big mall person, especially around Christmas time the stores are just a gong show.  I can never find what I'm looking for and I can never find anyone to help me.  Most of the time, I feel like a zombie in Romero's "Dawn of the Dead".  I just stumble around until I find something shiny to stare at or head to the food court to sink my teeth into something, while that god awful muzak plays.  The worst part is that I usually have to go back, because I got the wrong thing or it just doesn't work right and go throught the same nightmare again.  Luckily, some writers have felt the same thing and channeled their anger into films.

Here are 5 Films about Shopping Nightmares

5. Hide and Go Shriek (1988) - It's high school graduation day and what better way to celebrate is to get a group of your best friends and stay over night at your dads enormous furniture store! Whoo, party!  So when they get to the store, they see a creepy guy with a snake tattoo working in shipping and David, son of the owner, explains that this guy was in jail and his dad is giving him a second chance.  The audience finds out shortly after from David's dad that this guy is also temporarily living in the building but the graduates don't know that yet.  So the store closes up and it's party time! Not yet, David has to give a tour of the building and tell everyone not to touch everything a dozen times.  Now is it time to party? Nope, first a game of hide and go seek.  Fuck.  However, during the game some of the couples are having sex and getting caught, which leads to ... another game of hide and seek.  Except this time one of the couples is murdered.  Finally!  However, when the group gets together to eat, they think that that couple is just doing it and will come down later.  After they eat, it's time for bed.  These people know how to party!  And they separate to go and have sex.  Luckily, this gives the killer time to start picking off people and the group realizes that there is someone else in the building and the fun and games are over now.  They try and escape but the doors are chained and the phones are dead! How can they escape this night of terror? This movie was strange.  The ending of this film, comes right out of nowhere and the epilogue is impossible, no imagination should be stretched that far.  The acting is terrible and these guys might have been teenagers 10 years ago, maybe.  Just because you are holding a skateboard, that doesn't make you look younger.  Some of the kill scenes are pretty good, done by Screaming Mad George but I read that some of the truly gruesome stuff was edited out, which is disappointing.  For a first film in the 80's, it's pretty good for director, now editor/producer, Skip Schoolnik but the story just kills it for me and I would steer clear.

4. Elves (1989) - Kristen, Brooke and Amy head out to the forbidden wood to have a "Anti-Christmas" pagan ritual and after the ceremonial hand bleeding, they accidentally awaken a demonic Christmas Elf.  I hate when that happens!  Unknowing of what they conjured up, they all go back home and Kristen tries to sneak the book of magic back onto her grandfather's shelf.  He catches her and although he is bound to a wheelchair, gives her some viscous slaps.  She runs to her room and her distant mother tells her that all the money in her bank account, that she worked for is gone because of the trouble she caused tonight. So beaten and robbed by her family, she goes and has a shower, when she is coming out of the shower, she catches her little brother peeping on her.  She chases him into his room, tickles him and calls him and scamp.  She goes to bed with her cat and dreams of the day she can escape this madhouse. I hope.  The next day, Kristen goes to work at the snack counter of a department store, while there her mother drowns her cat. Good parenting!  On her break, Kristen and her friends visit the store Santa.  While sitting on Santa's lap, Santa gets a little fresh with his hands and Kristen causes a scene.  Santa goes on a break and while drinking in his dressing room, he gets his testicals torn apart by the demonic Christmas Elf.  Luckily, former alcoholic, cop, security guard, Mike McGavin is there and looking for a job.  You're hired, Christmas is saved!  Later that night, Kristen and her friends also planned on sleeping over in the mall, so they can have sex with some random guys they invited.  When the girls get there though, guess who's staying there too? Mike McGavin!  He's been kicked out of his trailer and promises he won't tell if they don't.  Did I mention that Kristen's grandfather was a Nazi?  Yep, a Nazi scientist who was in charge of summoning elves so Hitler could create a supernatural race of super soldiers, until the end of the war, then he disappeared.  Unfortunately, some Nazi have found him and are looking for Kristen and Elf. And now the story gets crazy. So can Kristen escape her abusive family, the Nazi's, the demonic Elf and all the other crazy shit that she's gonna eventually uncovered with the help of Mike McGavin?  Let's hope for years and years of therapy.  For one, I don't know why this is called Elves because there is only one Elf and Elves is plural.  Anyway, this is a complete train wreck of a movie but there's something compelling about it that you have to keep watching.  There is a glimmer of hope at the beginning of every scene that is dashed by the end.  The script is insane, touching almost every family taboo with no consequence to any of the characters.  The main character, Kristen isn't likeable and that thought is reinforced when the guys come to the mall and argue which one of them have to hang out with her.  The Nazi's are generic and would be geriatric by this time.  The acting is horrible and the only thing that looks somewhat decent is the Elf, who doesn't seem to have a game plan at all.  He's protecting her, he's not protecting her.  At times, it can be funny and painful for the wrong reasons at times, is it worth checking out? Sure, if you've run out of other holiday horrors to watch.

3. The Initiation (1984) -Kelly is a sorority pledge who is having horrible nightmares about her mom having sex with her dad, then her stabbing her dad and another man running in and catching on fire.  She has no memories before she was nine but she has always had this dream.  Anyhoo, besides fucked up dreams, Kelly is also the daughter of mall owner, Dwight Fairchild and to get into the sorority, Kelly and the pledges have to steal the uniform of the security guard at the Fairchild mall.  She agrees to get the keys and this prank is going to happen at the end of the week, so we have lots of time to introduce other characters.  Like a someone at the local mental institution, who's face is partial burned and he really enjoys gardening.  One evening, a group of inmates escape and someone kills the wicked nurse with a gardening tool! dun dun dun.  Kelly's parent's are notify because they are paying for someone to be held there and this could this relate to Kelly's dream.  Also, Kelly meets a dreamy professor that week, who tries to unlock the mystery of the dream, Father, Mother, Mirror?  Snore.  Finally, it's Friday and time for the prank!  They drop the pledges off and lock them (from the outside?) into the mall.  Kelly and her friends must get the uniform but little do they know that there is a killer on the loose to get them!  Vera Miles (Psycho) and Daphne Zuniga (Spaceballs, The Dorm That Dripped Blood) star in this and director Larry Stewart doesn't seem to ask much of them.  Lots of twists, in a style similar to giallo, where you're trying to find out who the killer is. Unfortunately, there are characters just thrown in late to the film to bring up the body toll, which make some the kills pointless.  Dull at times and I wished they had spent more time in the mall than developing the cliche relationship between Kelly and her Professor.  Most sad is that this was one of Vera Miles last films but I wouldn't watch this again for her or anyone else.

2. Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge (1989) - The new mall has opened up and the developer, Harv Posner and the Mayor Karen Wilton are pretty jazzed to bring new jobs and commerce to their little town.  Melody, who is still choked that her boyfriend, Eric died in a fire a few months ago, and her friend Susie have gotten jobs at the mall and are excited for the grand opening. Unfortunately, there is a phantom lurking in their monolithic mall and he is secretly killing mall maintenance people and security guards.  The next day, Melody hangs out at the mall with Susie and her friend, Buzz.  They head over to their lockers and a newspaper writer/photographer, Peter, starts chatting up Melody and when she opens her locker, she discovers a bouquet of orchids.  She is freaked out because Eric was the only who knew that she liked orchids.  After work, Melody goes to her car and is violently attacked in the parking lot.  Luckily, before things get to bad, the attacker is shot with an arrow.  Instead of calling the police, Mayor Wilton talks to Melody and assures her that everything will be all right.  Eventually, we discover Eric didn't die in the fire, is protecting Melody and is trying to get revenge on the mall people.  Will Melody find her true love, while the bodies stack up, let's hope so.  Wasn't expecting much from this film and was pleasantly surprised by it.  Even with Pauly Shore as a Buzz, it wasn't too bad.  Morgan Fairchild is the name attached to the film and she does a good job as the Mayor.  The Vandals do the end credit music, which again I was surprised because I had never heard the song before.  There are some really good inventive kill scenes and a lot of tongue in cheek humour.  I think it was humour, I will take it as humour.  There is also an insane car chase in the parking lot and no police in this town. The best is when Eric is unmasked by Melody, that moment is priceless and it's worth watching the whole movie for.  Silly movie with lots of good parts to it, definitely worth seeing.

1. Chopping Mall (1986) - Park Plaza Mall has just brought in a new security team of robots!  These three robots are armed to the teeth and can stop any violator of mall law.  Shortly after the installation of these new mall sheriffs, Rick and his friends decide to sleep over in the mall at the furniture store where they all work at.  There's Rick, his girlfriend Linda, Greg and Suzie, Mike and Leslie and newly formed nerdy couple, Alison and Ferdy.  The mall is closing and it's party time!  Everyone is drinking and having sex on display beds, except for Alison and Ferdy, who are enjoying Sci-Fi movies on the display TV.  Little do these horndogs know, that there is an electrical storm outside  which has damaged something in the malls' electronics and have screwed up the programs for the robot guards.  And now these robots are programmed to kill! Can these horny teens escape the killer robots and have the store put back together in time for the next day?  I love the box art for this movie, which is what made me rent this when I was a kid.  The title too, how can you miss Chopping Mall!  This is movie knows exactly what it is and that's what makes it so great.  Excellent special effects, (for the time and budget) lots of blood and even a head explosion.  Lots of fun with a silly premise that doesn't take itself to seriously.  Watch it if you get a chance!

So, after watching these movies, maybe taking on the stores isn't as hellish as it could be, at least there are no giant robots, yet.

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