Is there a better symbol of widespread American consumerism than the shopping mall? For the purposes of this list, let’s say “no.” With that in mind, it goes to show that, any time a movie involves a person or group tearing through a mall, that it’s some kind of metaphor for destroying our reliance on goods and things instead of people, right? Either that or it’s just cool to destroy so many things.
Ever since their modern day inception, malls have served as important locales for films. We’ve learned that they make for excellent places to hide out during a zombie apocalypse, ambush your unawares and even take your time-traveling friends to show them what modern days are like. Scenes in malls tend to either be of the “kids talking about stuff” variety or the “let’s make an action set piece” kind. Since the former’s pretty boring, we’ll focus on the latter, which is usually the type of mall scenes found in nerd-friendly movies anyways.
It was tough choosing a single best scene from Kevin Smith’s Mallrats for obvious reasons. You’ve got Silent Bob swinging around like Batman and Jay’s “Kneel before Zod” bit, but our favorite part is when a starstruck Brodie pellets Stan “The Man” Lee with questions about the Fantastic Four’s sex organs. Trying to make a point about love, Stan turns it around by swiping a romantic story from one of his books to try and teach the wayward soul a lesson. Yeah, it’s a little cheesy, but it confirms what we’ve always known: Stan gets way more ladies than Jagger.
9) Back to the Future
While it doesn’t take place inside a mall, one of the most important scenes in all the Back to the Future movies does occur outside one, the Twin Pines Mall to be exact. It’s there that Doc Brown first tests his time traveling DeLorean with his dog Einstein. Not long after, the Lybian terrorists seemingly kill Doc and Marty has to hop into the time machine to get away, thus kicking off his adventures in 1955. His reckless time driving even leads to the mall retroactively getting a name change to Lone Pine Mall.
8) Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
After traveling through time and meeting some of the greatest thinkers and adventurers to ever live, Bill and Ted return to the ’80s with their new friends and do what anyone would do: take them to the mall. Joan of Arc discovers Jazzercise, Beethoven rocks the piano store, Genghis Khan arms himself with aluminum bats and skateboards and Socrates, Billy the Kid and Sigmund Freud try to pick up chicks. Oh, and Abraham Lincoln knocks a dude working in an old timey photo place over for trying to get what he thinks is the store’s hat. None of this sits well with the mall cops who come down hard on history’s greatest.
7) Chopping Mall
Originally titled Killbots, Chopping Mall takes place almost entirely in a shopping mall where security robots that look like a cross between Nintendo’s R.O.B. and DC’s Black Manta go nuts and start killing everyone inside after closing time. The victims include the janitor (played by the great Dick Miller), the hapless security guard and a group of kids partying and trying desperately to have sex in a furniture store. The robots are quite resourceful, offing people via electrocution, throat slitting and head-exploding laser blasts. Be warned, the video is a compilation of all the death scenes in the movie, so spoilers abound.
6) Terminator 2
Time travelers sure love the mall! The second and best film in the Terminator franchise finds the formerly evil T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) trying to save young John Connor from fellow time-traveling killer robot T-1000. Their search for the kid leads them both to the local mall where the two robots follow their shoot out with a wall and window smashing fight. Back in the ’80s, you just couldn’t keep Schwarzenegger out of the mall! Unfortunately, this short clip is the only embeddable video we could find, but you can see the whole scene here.
5) The Final Destination
It’s true what they say, death is one mack daddy you don’t want to eff with. As with most of the characters in the Final Destination movies, the ones in THE Final Destination learned this the hard way. Towards the end of the movie, three of the survivors head to the mall movie theater thinking everything’s okay only to find an explosion and man-eating elevator waiting for them. Also like its predecessors, this film does not hold back on the gore in the kill scenes, so the faint of heart might want to skip the clip.
After secretly killing a man on an airplane surrounded by people and dropping from the landing gear into a marsh, Commando star John Matrix (Schwarzenegger again) kidnaps flight attendant Cindy and has her follow that creepy guy from the Warriors to the local Galleria. Instead of helping Matrix get his daughter back at first, Cindy tells the cops about him and a mall-wide battle breaks out. Arnold takes on a small army of mall cops, dodges bullets, throws phone booths and swings like Spider-Man on a balloon! The action begins around the 7:20 mark.
3) Dawn of the Dead
The quintessential mall horror film, George A. Romero’s original 1978 Dawn of the Dead has it all: zombie apocalypse survivors holing up in a then-new mall and securing the place up and eventually losing it thanks to a greedy horde of bikers. The entire scene at the end where the bikers burst in, allowing the undead to do the same and ruin a good thing for Stephen, Peter and Francine, is cinematic gold. If you haven’t seen the movie, first off, what’s wrong with you, and secondly, don’t watch the below video as it contains a good chunk of the ending.
2) Police Story
Leave it to in-his-prime Jackie Chan — known in the early ’90s as being not only one of the best action stars in the world, but also the funniest — to help create one of the craziest, raddest fight scenes in all of cinema (that also happens to take place in a mall). During the scene, Chan almost got electrocuted on those lights and received severe pole burn while sliding down the one towards the end. He still kicked ass, took names and gave viewers a fantastic fight scene, though.
1) The Blues Brothers
John Landis’ 1980 classic Blues Brothers, starring John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, was packed with some of the all-time craziest car chases in film. But it’s the one in the middle act, when Jake and Elwood are trying to avoid a couple of cops, and make a detour into the local mall during the pursuit. The mall was scheduled to be closed for good, so the filmmakers had carte blanche to go crazy… which they did, crashing through windows, store fronts, kiosks, and more. It’s so crazy and chaotic we even forgive them for destroying a Toys “R” Us that was surely filled with vintage Star Wars figures. From a pure destruction point of view, this one’s our favorite.