Friday, December 3, 2010

Mall Madness!

I suppose it's time to face the facts: 

Christmas is here. Hot chocolate is now commonly being sipped after spiked by my hands with whipped cream and cinnamon. And I'm already trembling with memories of my last year's post on The 12 Scares of Christmas (click to read). With the soprano shrieks of Carol of the Bells stabbing my inner ears, I figured I'd call back to 2009 with another post tragically dissolved by the demise of Pop Syndicate:

It may be shopping season, but you can bet your coupon book you won’t find me inside a heavily trafficked, swine flu spreading mall on any upcoming weekend this December. To prevent myself from being stampeded in a more painful manner than Lou Diamond Philips’ horse-trod friend in The First Power, I’m holding my own couch potato shopping spree with a marathon of all the best mall-centric horror. As a bonus for this season of gift giving generosity, I’m including a few suggestions for what to buy your loved one, inspired by these films but thankfully, available through any online retailer.

Dawn of the Dead(s)
It’s so good, there are two version of two more via the original’s deluxe DVD set, including an extended director’s cut and Dario Argento’s more compact and less humorous European release. Romero’s original hits upon all the hallmarks of a super shopping plaza--dressing rooms, arcades, ice rinks, great deals on hard candy--while also guilting its audience into acknowledging the consumerist culture zombification of the general public. Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake tries to make its characters act deeper than their freeloading ways suggest, but ultimately, the audience is hard-pressed to agree with Ving Rames’ plan to leave the safest, most comfortable and accommodating location one could hope to loiter in during a time of disaster. How could anyone surrender such a place when it’s scored to the relaxing chords of Richard Cheese?

Gift Idea: If you’re still in the ‘70s or now inhabiting Texas, I’m sure a fully featured shotgun would make any sweetheart sigh with stars in his or her eyes. While many folks have issues with firearms, most would most likely understand you’re only looking out for their safety in the wake of an inevitable zompacalypse. For a less controversial couples holiday present, consider a video camera (for you know, videotaping exercise?), telescope for those late night stargazings dates that best help one forget the very recent death of a parent, crowd pleasing DVD like National Lampoon’s Animal House, or border collie mix for security and affection.

Bio Zombie
You can only watch Dawn of the Dead so many times before you ask yourself: how would this improved by the presence of Bill Espresten Esquire and Ted Theodore Logan? Sadly, it seems doubtful that Keanu Reeves will ever break out his Wyld Stallions denim and would be incredibly depressing if Alex Winter squeezed back into his midriff-baring tee shirt. Thankfully, there’s Bio Zombie, a 1998 Hong Kong zomedy that plants two humorously rude mallrats into a zombie invaded shopping complex. It’s hard not to have a good time with jokes about Titanic, human appendage sushi, and low budget noshing. The only drawback? The film takes place after closing hours, thus limiting the feasting to lingering leftovers and some likable employees.
Gift Idea: A Precious Moments figurine to show your tender side and take your love back to his or her first Communion. 

Chopping Mall
The title says it all. Well, not really, as ‘chopping’ calls to mind axes and not killer robots using lasers to punish shoplifters and scandalous store employees sneaking into a mall for an overnight sleepover. But hey, it’s still gravy when you get to watch bratty teen delinquents picked off one by one by security guards that make Terminators look like Quakers. Now if only the inevitable Paul Blart franchise goes enough entries in to feature a crossover...

Gift Idea: An aromatic stick of pepperoni, a little known aphrodisiac for the Saturday sale-grubbing crowd

I previously mentioned this film when discussing misleading titles, as we never see more than one of the titular monster in this 1989 horror dud. Still, tis the season for an Xmas themed mall massacre, and to my knowledge, Elves marks the first and somehow only meeting of two hallmarks of the holiday season: Grizzly Adams and Nazis. What, you didn’t know Josef Mengele was working on creating a superrace of angry little people for world domination? Did you even pass junior high history? Sadly we’re not here to discuss Hitler’s relationship with vertically challenged henchmen (yes, that was added just so I can throw a reference out to Hard Rock Zombies) so Elves makes this shopping list due to its partial setting inside a giant department store. Like Chopping Mall, the promiscuous leads sneak in after hours to seduce some teenage boys and battle a fairly ridiculous monster. This one just happens to be a very pink, very short German.

Gift Idea: Sportswear. Yes, the girls model some frilly teddies made of more lace than a casserole doily, but it’s the blue bathing suit on the blond that the ladies and gentlemen deem sleepover worthy. Plus, it’s much easier to maneuver a killer elf when you don’t have to worry about frilly fabric getting stuck in automatic doors. Just because an outfit is intended for intimate occasions does not mean one should ignore its practicality in the event of Nazi sorcery sponsored slaughter.

Eight Legged Freaks
Holing yourself up inside an armored supercenter is certainly one way to evade an arac-attack. The downside? Once locked in, there are only so many tools that prove successful at combating gigantic toxic waste infused spiders before they suck out your innards in a colorfully PG-13-esque manner.

Gift Idea: An easy to carry, strongly scented bottle of reasonably priced perfume or cologne. True, your lady or male friend/teacher/relation may not be thrilled with the smell, but any old brand will show you care...especially when said gift receiver finds him or herself standing face-to-fuzzy-face with Shelob’s descendent who, conveniently enough, is quite sensitive to flowery sprits. 

The Final Destination
It was only a matter of time before this perfectly toned dead teenager franchise took to the malls. Between automatic gates and ink blot security tags, it’s a wonder this fourth installment wasn’t set entirely inside an indoor shopping center. Instead, we get treated to seeing what would actually happen if your loose shoelaces get stuck at the top of your average escalator. The results, as you might expect, are fabulously not fun (for the characters; those of us watching are having a great time).

Gift Idea: Comfy velcro-based sneakers. Anything else is the equivalent of coating your loved one in honey, sugar, and blood, then tying them to the coastal point where sea meets land and the Grim Reaper’s esteemed collection of killer bees, ants, and sharks come to feed. 


  1. I did a Mall Madness post over at the Cavalcade some time ago. ELVES and CHOPPING MALL both made my list. God, I love those two movies, but for very different reasons. I should do a compare and contrast essay on the nuances of both.


  2. Oooh I shall attempt to dig into the Cavalcade archives! And wow, cavalcade is a very difficult word to spell. I have to punch myself to not add an 'l' before the 'v.'

    Anyhoo, both films are CERTAINLY deserving of a nuanced observation.

  3. jervaise brooke hamsterDecember 11, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    Michael Caine is a worthless pile of garbage simply because he is British.