Despite the fact that Thanksgiving has been abolished as a holiday for the working class and become a day they have to work long hours serving people who had their holiday, for many the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, still exists as that special day to get those deals and pound the pavement to and through the malls. With more malls deciding to close on Thanksgiving, at least at the malls the Black Friday tradition is still alive.
As one movie on this list so aptly put it, shopping and the shopping malls are a part of our daily lives, a normalcy in the chaos of work and play. Yes, I realize normal and Black Friday do not go hand-in-hand, but just go along with me for the moment.
With Black Friday around the corner I thought it would be fun to look at some horror movies that take place or are otherwise centered around malls and shopping.
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Naturally it makes sense to start off with the granddaddy of mall movies.
Ten years after Night of the Living Dead, though in the timeline of the movies it is only a matter of weeks, the world has gone to hell…and it doesn’t help that it’s filled with zombies either. Four people consisting of a chopper pilot, a TV station employee and two SWAT officers take their leave of the embattled city to find somewhere better and take up residence in a shopping mall. Naturally the mall is filled with mindless bodies walking around, and they’re zombies to boot. Four people in a mall to themselves will have to make it heaven in the center of hell, but if they found the mall so will others.
The Initiation (1984)
This time around the location is a multi-level department store providing the comforts of a mall with the convenience of a single checkout.
Kelly is joining a sorority and as a pledge has to participate in an initiation. Being her father owns a large multi-level department store the initiation is set for her and the pledges to break into it after hours. Of course their friends can’t leave well enough alone and also break into the store to scare the girls.
Well not everybody is into breaking into places and three sanitarium inmates decide to break out. Yeah, but since breaking in is all the rage they break into the store too. Wow, their security must really suck. So now several killers are on the loose and have coeds trapped in a department store, but the plot thickens as there is a mystery yet to be revealed.
Chopping Mall (1986)
It’s the 80s, zombies are now a few years hence while video games and their home computer co-partners are all the rage, as is the fear that this new technology will take over in some way. Well let’s take that concept and base it in a mall where four couples stay over after closing for some fun and of course sex.
But what about that technology? Glad you asked. YES YOU DID!
This mall has installed a new security system using robots with tank tracks for mobility to patrol the mall. They are armed with tasers and tranquilizer guns to subdue any would be thieves but it seems on this night lightning strikes their central command unit effectively reprogramming them to kill, with a fresh batch of targets locked in the mall with them.
Hide and Go Shriek (1988)
Though not specifically in a mall, it does take place in a multi level funiture store providing a place for teenagers to run around and party while being stalked and killed; of course all the while having succeeded in locking themselves in.
John’s father owns a large furniture store and being closed at night it provides the perfect place for John and seven teenage friends to have a party, and for their own private place for some love making. But it also provides the perfect place for a deranged madman to hide out, and they have provided plenty of victims for him.
Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989)
It seems some greedy developers want to build a new shopping mall but one problem stands in their way; Eric. You see, Eric lives in a big house right in the middle of where they want to build the mall. Having apparently not seen any number of movies or an episode of Dallas, these developers have never heard of eminent domain and paying off councilmen so they decide to just burn down Eric’s house, of course with him in it; prolem solved, or so they thought.
You see, Eric survives, of course badly disfigured; well, they do need a connection to the Phantom of the Opera on which this is a take. When they built the mall they just built over the remains of Eric’s house leaving him with an underground lair to roam about as he terrorizes the people of the mall.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Rather than being a direct remake of the original movie, the new Dawn of the Dead combines elements of the original with elements of Night of the Living Dead, and of course it’s own elements.
Unlike in the original that starts at the height of the zombie outbreak this starts much like Night of the Living Dead with the outbreak starting at the beginning. It is much more a remake of Night of the Living Dead transposing it locale from the farmhouse to a shopping mall as a growing group of survivors find refuge there and conflict ensues among them as to the better survival plan.
Let’s Be Careful Out There
As you find your way through the stores and malls on Black Friday, always remember that advice your mother gave you not to put anybody strange in your mouth.. uhm.. something like that. And if you see someone with a butcher knife, well check first to see if you’re in the cutlery department to keep from making a scene you might be embarrassed about later.