Chopping Mall (1986)

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Tagline: Where shopping will cost you an arm and a leg.

Director: Ted Nicolaou

Writers: Jim Wynorski, Steve Mitchell

Starring: Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, Russell Todd, Karrie Emerson, Dick Miller, Nick Segal, John Terlesky, Suzee Slater, Pau Bartel, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller, Gerrit Graham, Mel Welles, Angela Aames, Paul Coufos, Arthur Roberts, Ace Mask, Will Gill Jr.

18 | 1hr 17 mins | Horror

Budget: $800,000 (estimated)


Review

Long before Amazon and Facebook turned us all into hermits, shopping malls were our cultural epicentre.

Each weekend teenagers would flock in their legions, hanging out at their favourite arcades or fast food restaurants and marvelling at the colourful array of consumer products that were not yet accessible at the click of a touchpad. Inevitably, these monuments to consumerism became schoolyards away from home, and in an era when Reagan proclaimed that ‘All great change in America begins at the dinner table,’ ghetto blasters and bubblegum could only lead to all out rebellion, right?

Fear not irrational parents of the 1980’s, for Park Plaza has a new bastion of shopping centre law enforcement: the Protector 101 Series Robots, otherwise known as the Killbots.

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So to summarise, this haircut was the best three-hundred bucks I ever spent.

Chopping Mall begins with a presentation video displaying the capabilities of the Protector 101 Series, as an unshaven Miami Vice extra unloads a full clip into the machine before being tasered unconscious. One watching citizen isn’t convinced and asks how this tank/toaster hybrid can distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys. After undertaking a demonstration in which the subject heels to an identification card, the host replies, ‘Trust me! Absolutely nothing can go wrong!’

And perhaps it wouldn’t have if not for the random flash of lightning that strikes the mall’s control panel within the first ten minutes of the movie, immediately sending the machines doolally. At first glance this might not seem like much of an issue. After all, this is not ED-209 we’re dealing with, and the Killbots are more Nintendo’s R.O.B than The Terminator. But don’t let their cheap aesthetics or lack of mobility fool you. 

For a machine whose sole purpose is to restrain and reprimand, it is certainly surprising that the designers decided to install a plethora of deadly weapons, including razor sharp claws of all shapes and sizes and lasers that with one direct hit can make a human head explode like a watermelon. For the group of teenagers who decide to sneak into the mall after hours for some premarital sex, this superfluous oversight could not have come at a worse time, but in order to provide the audience with its obligatory quota of full-frontal nudity, the Killbots first go in search of some other, less attractive victims, sharpening their skills on a couple of lab rats whose job it is to keep the machines on a technical leash.

chopping-mall-2

Squiggly lines’ll kill ya!

By this point the drunken sex party is in full swing, but one Killbot decides to make a final detour, rolling into one unlucky janitor who has been forced to stay late to mop up some teenage mess. As you might imagine, the janitor is not a happy chappy, and his mood is not helped when the sadistic Killbot cruelly knocks over his bucket, demanding that the intruder show some identification. Clearly not at one with modern technology, the janitor becomes immediately hostile, and is attacked by a whole host of squiggly lines which almost resemble electricity.

By now the Killbots have a real taste for carnage, and the usual teenage massacre ensues. Needless to say, the final showdown is a killer, and the increasingly pissed teenagers all decide to grow a pair, raiding the mall’s sporting goods store and returning to the fray like a platoon of heavily armed mercenaries.

Well, sort of.

chopping-mall-3

What’s with all the machine guns, guys? You told me we were heading to a barbecue!

The second half of the movie is more reminiscent of an action flick – and a half-decent one at that. As well as the many shoot-outs, explosions and vent crawling, there are stuntmen in ladies wigs running around on fire, and a scene in which our newly ferocious protagonists disguise themselves as mannequins, successfully fooling the most advanced robotics technology in the world.



Best Kill

After finding her douchebag boyfriend Greg with his throat slit, skimpily-clad temptress Suzie Lynn flees a barrage of Killbot lasers, before inexplicably turning to catch one in her face. The results, you might say, are explosive.

Most Absurd Moment

After watching his girlfriend Linda catch a stray laser from a shorting Killbot, dillweed Rick Stanton decides to mount a nearby electric cart, driving at 2 mph into the mechanical menace and electrocuting himself to death in the process.

Most Absurd Dialogue

While busy making out, Greg and Suzie stop for an impromptu exchange.

Greg: You smell like pepperoni.

Suzie: Well, if that’s how you feel…

Greg: Wait a minute…

Suzie: What?

Greg: I like pepperoni.


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rtape rtape rtape rtape rtape

Any movie that could have ended an hour before it did has a plot hole the size of a chasm. If only someone had realised that all they had to do was shut off the power to the escalators! Killbots have wheels, people! Wheels! Actually, they’re known as tank threads.

Cedric Smarts


 

 

2 responses to “Chopping Mall (1986)

    • Hi, Michael.

      Thanks for reading. I’m with you. In fact, I may even go as far as saying that Chopping Mall is my favourite of all trashy horror. If not the best, then certainly up there. The killbots are gloriously bad, and the exploding head scene was so unexpected I nearly choked in disbelief. And how about those squiggly line special effects when the janitor is electrocuted! Ha. You’ve gotta love it.

      Like

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