HALLOWEEN 2K16: A Review of “Chopping Mall” (1986)

chopping-mall-posterWith a title such as Chopping Mall, I was expecting a complete and utter shit-fest. I was right. Only thing is, this movie was actually fun to watch. This is the epitome of an 80’s horror movie. The type of straight-to-VHS masterpiece with enough cringe-worthy dialogue, synthesizer music, and cheap effects to make your head spin like Linda Blair’s. But there’s just something about it that prevents it from becoming a total disaster. It doesn’t take itself seriously, which is a wonderful thing when you know your story is garbage. A high-tech mall has recently invented three robots to patrol the inside of the building after hours rather than use security guards. These little monsters are programmed to shoot any potential burglar with a sleep-inducing stun gun. But of course, things go horribly wrong and these little bastards turn into killing machines. Well, Killbots to be precise, which was the original name of the film when it hit theaters in 1986. However, it didn’t do well at the box office because—get this—people thought with such a title it was a Transformers-like kids movie. What drugs were people hitting in the 1980’s? Be sure, the only thing childish about this one is the script.

There is actually no chopping in Chopping Mall. The robots shoot people with lasers or electrocute them to death. There’s also one more murder where it uses its arms to slit someone’s throat, but no, no chopping involved. Whatever. At least the title was catchy. Anyway, it just so happens that on the same night of the robots’ debut, a group of young workers from the mall decide to have a party. Although the robots are also trained to scan employee ID’s, the homicidal streak in their mis-programming does not allow for it. They go on a killing spree. The mall doors also seal up for the night. The kids have to survive until 6 AM when the robots turn off. But will they?

The special effects are cartoonish at best, and the script will send shivers down your spine. But it was fun. A group of idiots being terrorized by robots in a mall after dark is probably someone’s fantasy. At less than 80 minutes, it is just long enough to satisfy your bloodlust for the evening You also may enjoy spotting a few cameos that are sprinkled into the film: veteran horror actress Mary Woronov, character actor Dick Miller, and the famed art-house director of Eating Raoul, Paul Bartel, all have small roles.

Not that I would ever watch this again, but I enjoyed Chopping Mall in all of its badness. This is a classic instance of “it’s a good bad movie”. You can also find it on one of those cheap horror movie DVD combos at Wal-Mart for $5. So everyone wins out. I’m going to give one star for each of the dollars I paid to watch this thing (and the seven others it came with): 5 out of 10 stars. Watch it. You won’t be too disappointed.

Also starring Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, and Russell Todd. Directed by Jim Wynorski. Produced by Roger Corman’s wife Julie. 

More posts in my HALLOWEEN 2K16 column can be found here

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