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Chopping Mall

Chopping Mall (1986) Movie Poster
  •  USA  •    •  77m  •    •  Directed by: Jim Wynorski.  •  Starring: Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, Russell Todd, Karrie Emerson, Barbara Crampton, Nick Segal, John Terlesky, Suzee Slater, Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller, Gerrit Graham, Mel Welles.  •  Music by: Chuck Cirino.
        A group of teenagers that work at the mall all get together for a late night party in one of the stores. When the mall goes on lock down before they can get out, The robot security system activates after a malfunction and goes on a killing spree. One by one the three bots try to rid the mall of the "Intruders". The only weapons the kids can use are the supplies in other stores. Or...if they can make it till morning when the mall opens back up.


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Image from: Chopping Mall (1986)
Image from: Chopping Mall (1986)
Image from: Chopping Mall (1986)
Image from: Chopping Mall (1986)
Image from: Chopping Mall (1986)
Image from: Chopping Mall (1986)
Image from: Chopping Mall (1986)
Image from: Chopping Mall (1986)
Image from: Chopping Mall (1986)
Image from: Chopping Mall (1986)
Seriously, how can you not be the slightest bit curious in seeing a movie called "Chopping Mall," which has the wicked-cool tag-line - "Where shopping costs you an arm and a leg!" Only maverick "B"-movie producer Roger Corman and his wife Julie could come up with a title and tag-line like that - which is ironic, since, as they are this film's producers, that's probably exactly what they did.

I have an odd history with this above-average "B"-grade sci-fi horror-comedy from 1986. I was only a year-old when this film was originally released back in 1986, and the Sci-Fi Channel (as it was known back in the 1990s and early 2000s) would frequently air bad science fiction and horror movies usually as part of its weekend programming. "Chopping Mall" was one of its perennial favorites (more so in the '90s, than in the early 21st century); my late mother would often sucker me into watching some of these movies with her, and she paid for it royally when I would end up camping out in my parents' bedroom at night because I was too scared to sleep in my bedroom by myself.

Ah, the glorious years of a misspent youth watching bad sci-fi and horror movies with my mom.

But "Chopping Mall" has a little bit more intelligence, and wit, than your usual mid-'80s "B"-grade chop-'em-up. While the film doesn't take itself too seriously to begin with - and upon a recent viewing after I hadn't sat down and watched the film in what seems like forever - it is also quite humorous (if not also satirical), in addition to being quite competently well-acted by a cast of largely unknown "B" actors, though you might recognize a few of the faces from television and other horror films produced during that decade.

At the Park Plaza Mall, eight teenagers - more like, young adults - are throwing an after-hours party in one of the stores after the mall closes down for the night. Three couples - Rick (Russell Todd) and his wife Linda (Karrie Emerson), Greg (Nick Sedal) and Suzie (scream queen Barbara Crampton, in between "Re-Animator" and "From Beyond"), Mike (John Terlesky) and Leslie (Suzee Slater), and a pair of clueless singletons meeting for the first time Ferdy (Tony O'Dell, of the TV series "Head of the Class") and Alison (Kelli Maroney, from the 1984 post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror-comedy "Night of the Comet" and the daytime soap opera "Ryan's Hope") - are all having the night of their lives.

What the kids ("young people") don't know, is that an errant bolt of lightening has created a computer malfunction in the Park Plaza Mall's newly installed state-of-the-art security system: it causes the mall's three heavily armored, heavily armed security robots to go on a murderous rampage throughout the mall. The robots are way too good at their job, first killing off all of the technicians and janitors working overnight in the mall, and then turning their attentions on the eight libidinous youths partying in one of the stores where they work.

"Chopping Mall" was directed and co-written by Jim Wynorski, and surprisingly he's able to maintain a tight grip on the story once the mayhem starts. His actors were all well-chosen. While it would be impossible to not bash the movie for abiding by the standards of mid-'80s horror flicks (sexdrugs = death, virgin survives, etc. - thanks, Randy, in "Scream," for clearing that up for us one last time), the eight youths at the center of "Chopping Mall" are not stupid, and are actually quite proactive in their attempts at self-preservation, and they do come up with some innovative ways to try to survive the night's events - even if their plans do not always succeed in the end.

This last part is something that the characters in "Chopping Mall" can be commended for, as well as offering some kudos to Jim Wynorski for coming up with an above-average mid-'80s horror flick where the youths at the center of the carnage are not always running about screaming their heads off and doing stupid things to get themselves killed.

And yes, some of the deaths here are quite ingenious, including a sequence early in the film where a girl loses her head - literally - at the laser beams (!) of one of the malfunctioning killer robots. It's my understanding that this particular death - and the special effects employed in it to make it work - is the most memorable special effects achievement in "Chopping Mall"; I'll admit that this was an image that has remained in my mind ever since I first saw this movie when I was a kid, and was one of my most eagerly anticipated sequences in this picture.

"Chopping Mall" is not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, and with a running time of a brisk 76 minutes, it does feel too short, even rushed - but this is something that may have been necessitated by its extremely low budget. But in spite of that, "Chopping Mall" is well-acted and occasionally very suspenseful, and lastly I believe it is an excellent choice to watch as part of a late Friday- or Saturday-night "B"-movie fright flick line-up.


.: "Chopping Mall" was recently released as part of Vestron Video's Blu-ray DVD "Collector's Series" (which is how I was able to watch the film).

Review by dee.reid from the Internet Movie Database.


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Mar 20 2016, 12:47
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