Netflix transformed part of Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, Georgia into the StarCourt Mall where most of the action in the Stranger Things season three occurs. It’s not the first horror story to be told in a mall – monsters and slashers have found homes in them before.
Shall we start with the classic?
Dawn of the Dead (1978) – George Romero’s commentary on consumerism uses the always hungry zombie as a metaphor, and the movie is filled with plenty of satirical barbs about modern society. A small group of survivors hide from the hungry horde of undead in a suburban shopping mall, taking full advantage of all what the shops have to offer. The bulk of it was filmed at the Monroeville Mall in Pennsylvania. Tom Savini upped his game to create the movie’s gory special effects and zombie makeup; it was a game changer for the horror genre and one of the best zombie movies out there.
Chopping Mall (1986) – It has killer robots, deadly spiders, snakes, gold lamé dresses, lasers, explosions, and a really corny sense of humor. It was filmed at Sherman Oaks Galleria in LA. This b-movie covers a night of horror when three high tech security robots hunt down a bunch of teens trying to have some fun in a furniture store. It was a flop when it was released in theaters, but it’s become a bit of a cult classic over the years; 1980s culture wrapped up in an exploitation movie.
Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge (1989) – If the title didn’t give it away, this is a cheesy remake of Phantom of the Opera… but in a mall with some great 80s fashion and music, and Pauly Shore as a frozen yogurt store clerk named Buzz. Sadly, no sailor uniform is included in that performance. It was filmed in Sherman Oaks Galleria and Promenade Mall in LA. It’s got a variety of kills – including the weaponizing of an escalator and decapitation by fan – and some ok effects. Worth a watch if if you like bad, retro horror that’s so over the top that it becomes comedy.
Bio Zombie aka Sun faa sau si (1998) – This comedy from China spoofs Dawn of the Dead. Two guys – Woody Invincible and Crazy Bee – were just trying to sell pirated DVDs at the New Trend Plaza Mall when their lives take a bad turn. A deal between black arms market dealers selling trying to sell a bioweapon that turns people into zombies goes wrong, and a zombie breaks loose and starts an infestation. Slap stick hijinks ensue. It’s got a bit of a Braindead feel to it. The dub is something special.
The Blue Brothers (1980) – No, it’s not a horror movie. It is, however, the best demolition derby style car chase filmed in a mall in the 80s (likely ever), so I couldn’t not include it. The scene was filmed in the Dixie Square Shopping Center in Harvey, Illinois. The mall closed in 1979, making it a perfect deal for director John Landis. They dressed it up, populated it with stunt performers, and drove through.