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The Weekly List: Scenes from the mall

Observe and Report has us shopping around for our favorite cinematic mall moments

Dawn of the Dead (1978) George Romero’s zombie classic is set primarily in an abandoned mall, where survivors of the zombie apocalypse hide out. When the zombies overrun the place (as they inevitably do), Romero shows the mindless creatures still yearning for their consumerist past as they wander through abandoned stores. Even when obsessed with eating brains, we still want to go to the mall.

The Blues Brothers (1980) “You want out of this parking lot? Okay.” With that, Elwood and Jake escape from the police by plowing their 1974 Dodge cop car through the inside of a mall, turning the place into a giant demolition derby. They make mincemeat of a Toys R Us store and, it seems, every pane of glass in the joint.

Commando (1985) Arnold Schwarzenegger takes out half a dozen rent-a-cops with one swing of his arms—no, seriously—in this see-it-to-believe-someone-actually-scripted-it awesomely cheesy mall combat sequence. Plus, Arnold swings to safety hanging onto a giant yellow balloon, which is always a plus.

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Police Story (1985) This Jackie Chan opus should have been subtitled How to Destroy a Mall in 10 Minutes. As Chan scrambles with the baddies for a satchel, glass shatters, motorbikes fly, bodies tumble off escalators ... and mall cops get their asses kicked.

Can’t Buy Me Love (1987) Patrick Dempsey’s character, on the verge of purchasing the telescope for which he’s saved lawn-mowing earnings all summer, spots a damsel in distress across the mall and instantly decides instead to go all in on her ability to make him cool. Who could have guessed then that the real Dempsey would need no help at all?

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) After traveling through time to round up historical figures for their final report, Bill and Ted naturally bring all of humanity’s greatest leaders and thinkers to the local mall. There, Joan of Arc takes up aerobicizing, Beethoven grooves on synthesizers, and Genghis Khan decimates a sporting-goods store. The whole spectrum of ’80s mall culture is neatly summed up, now as much a time capsule as the people brought in from the past.

Scenes from a Mall (1991) Watching Woody Allen and Bette Midler fight, break up, make love and reunite during an extended mall shopping trip is pretty snooze-worthy, but director Paul Mazursky also gave us a moment for the ages—Allen punches out a particularly annoying mime.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) The first showdown between good-guy Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger and bad-guy liquid-metal Terminator Robert Patrick plays out in a service hallway inside an LA mall. The Terminators fight to a draw, but the T-1000 catches a glimpse of a silver mannequin head in a clothing store and can’t help but note the similarity.

Mallrats (1995) Misled by an embarrassed Brodie (who’s had his ass kicked by Ben Affleck’s douchebag menswear-store manager), Jay and Silent Bob head to “Easter Bunny Court” to exact what they think is vengeance on the guy in the bunny suit. Sure, he’s completely innocent, but the sight of the Easter Bunny getting beat up by a pair of stoners in front of a bunch of screaming kids is pretty hilarious.

Jackie Brown (1997) The Del Amo mall in Torrance, California, figures largely into the plot of Quentin Tarantino’s most underrated film, from its food court to its movie theaters to its stores. Pam Grier’s money-switching scheme, along with her subsequent faked panic as she searches for the ATF throughout the massive mall, is by far the highlight.

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