Cueing Comic Book Guy voice again to point out it was DAWN of the Dead that took place in the mall, but since that one was released in 1978, I guess TPTB figured Day of the Dead (released in 1985), would make more sense timewise. Anyway, it still stands as a roundabout homage . . .
I always like the music references on this show, but it felt kinda heavy handed this time? A song playing over what felt like every other scene was too much of a good thing for me.
Weirdly, this episode made me appreciate my parents' strictness with us more than I generally do. I was the exact same age as the Stranger Things kids when this takes place, with my brother just a bit older than Jonathan and my sister a couple years older than that. And yeah, the mall was a thing, but my hanging out there at thirteen/fourteen would've happened over my mom's dead body. She was sure I'd be corrupted (morally and/ or materially) and possibly kidnapped. So my early-teens summers were wholesomely spent at sleepaway camp, riding my bike, babysitting (any of which would have gotten me brutally murdered in an '80s horror movie) and reading (yup, nerd). I'd log plenty of time in the mall within a couple years, anyway, working at (a) one of those stores with the giant tubes of candy people would gorge on without paying and inevitably spill all over the floor and (b) at The Limited (where female employees were required to dress like low-budget Heathers). Any girls who drove would walk each other to the parking lot after work for safety's sake; the rest would hang out together 'til our rides (and/or boyfriends) arrived to pick us up. Because there were some skeeeeevy characters hanging around up in there. Mom, you were right.
ETA: I feel Steve and Robin's pain: I worked summers and after school at no less than eight different retail jobs, including bakery, pharmacy, movie theater (the best!!), the aforementioned candy store and The Limited (the worst!!), and three different bookstores. The major difference, fortunately for me, is that I did get to go to college--locally, so I could work and save my parents' dorm costs--but still. I get the feeling this is just a summer gig for Robin. Poor Steve, tho. 😞