Director – Jim Wynorski
Cast – Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, Russell Todd, Kerrie Emerson, Barbara Crampton, Nick Segal, John Terlesky, Suzee Slater, Dick Miller
Release Year – 1986
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Boy does this film bring back memories. I STILL remember being a child and this film freaking me out and quite honestly…giving me nightmares. To this day I still find this film’s use of robots as protagonists to be genius and seldom used in horror films, especially given that this film came out in the 80s, the decade of slashers, demons, vampires/werewolves, and not much else! Oh and no, I do not consider Terminator or Terminator 2 to be horror films. Hehe.
This film’s plot is a simple one. A fancy mall is stepping up their night time security force with the addition of three robots who are programmed to neutralize intruders in non-lethal ways until the police show up. It’s the weekend, and a group of six mall employees from various stores plan to stay the night and party at a mattress/furniture store in the mall. The night is rainy, and because this is an 80’s horror film, lightning somehow strikes the antenna at the top of the mall and fries the security system running the robots, turning them into crazy killers who terminate anyone located in the mall with extreme prejudice. With the mall’s new locking system just kicking in and not reopening until 6am, the six friends must fight off the robots until dawn, if they can stay alive that long.
Chopping Mall is simply a fun ride, and is not meant to be taken too seriously. The level of cheesiness in this film is very high and will most likely ward off all self-righteous jerks that decide to view this film. If you know me and any other true horror fan, then you know we just LOVE cheesiness! The look of the robots is very sub-par by today’s technological standards(see Transformers and you will know what I mean) but I really enjoyed the look and found it to be effective given the setting(a mall). Most mall cops seem to be pretty dorky right? Well…yeah…this robots are a bit dorky, until they blow your freakin head to bits!(definitely my favorite scene in the film, hehe) I of course loved the fact that this film takes place in a mall, I’m simply a sucker for that notion in films because we always get to see the characters either hole up somewhere or find weapons around the mall and fight back. This film’s short runtime of 77 minutes actually benefit’s the film given that such a simple plot really could not go for much longer than that without dragging at some point.
Of course with Chopping Mall being a classic 80’s horror film…it is not without it’s flaws. The dialogue isn’t so bad, but of course the acting and special effects could have been much better. I did personally enjoy Jim Wynorski’s direction of the film and loved how he would cut to certain scenes in hilarious fashion. Example: someone gets electrocuted by one of the robots and is left on the soldering on the ground with smoke still coming out of the body and then cuts to a scene with a guy telling his girlfriend “smoking is bad for you!” when she lights a cigarette! Haha! I’ve seen this before a few times in other horror films and simply love the tactic and it’s witty humor.
Overall, this is a great 80’s horror film that is sure to please true fans of the genre who fell in love with these types of films growing up.