Chopping Mall (UK video cover).jpg
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2 and a half stars

"Where shopping can cost you an arm and a leg."

directed by: Jim Wynorski
starring: Kelli Maroney, Barbara Crampton, Tony O'Dell, John Terlesky, Russel Todd, Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller

(back of video blurb):

       Some people will kill for a bargain...and at the Park Plaza Mall they do! Here, you can shop till you drop...dead!

       High tech robots equpped with state-of-the-art security devices have been recruited as the new mechanical "night watchman" for the Park Plaza Mall. When a jolting bolt of lightning short circuits the main computer control, the robots turn into "killbots"...on the loose after unsuspecting shoppers! Four couples are trying to make it after-hours in a mattress store. They make it alright- in the morgue!

       At Park Plaza, you can save on everything but your life! PAUL BARTEL and MARY WORONOV of the hit thriller EATING RAOUL are reunited, plus; RUSSEL TODD (FRIDAY 13TH)(sic- actually, being pedantic here, it was part 2!), BARBARA CRAMPTON (RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND) KELLI MARONEY (NIGHT OF THE COMET) and TONY O'DELL (THE KARATE KID). CHOPPING MALL, where they slash their prices and their customers!"

choice dialogue:

"The protectors will make Park Plaza the safest mall in the state.
Trust me. Absolutely nothing can go wrong..."

slash with panache?

        A fun, typically campy mid 80’s slasher.

        Set entirely in a palatial shopping centre- Park Plaza, CHOPPING MALL starts with a public demonstration and sales pitch, showing off the ‘protector robots’- who, admittedly somewhat violently, but not fatally, apprehend criminals whilst patrolling the mall at night. (Two of one of the 'killbots' confronts Dick Millerthe audience watching the demonstration are Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov, briefly reassuming their characters from the cannibal/restaurant black comedy EATING RAOUL (1982)- which, unfortunately, is an great opportunity wasted.)....Meanwhile various ‘teen’ shop assistants with big, BIG hair are planning to hold a party after hours in one of the stores. Two of them (Barbara Crampton and Alison Maroney), work in a greasy spoon cafe in the mall, which nicely sets the tongue-in-cheek mood by having posters of such genre classics such as SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (1982) and BARBARIAN QUEEN plastered on the walls....As the mall begins to shut down for the night the robots are somehow thrown off line by a lightning bolt, which turns them into killing machines with a thirst for teenage blood..... The kids get down to some necking and a little partying and the ‘protectors’ begin their nightly rounds....

        For the most part CHOPPING MALL is a hoot! Striking just the right balance between comedy and horror- and God knows that seems to be a difficult thing for film makers to do! Obviously made by horror aficionados, the in-jokes are generally effective without becoming overpowering- Dick Miller’s cameo as a cleaner who is electrocuted is the messy results of 'protection'especially fun. And somehow, considering the cheese value on show here, it never tips over the edge into downright silliness. The cast play it dead straight (the way it should be), although I’ll never know how they could say lines such as; "Jesus, what’s that?!....Robots blood?" & "It’s not you....I guess I’m just not used to being chased around a mall in the middle of the night by killer robots!", without cracking a smile! The killer robots themselves actually look like carbon copies of ‘No.5’ the cutesy bot from the kids movie SHORT CIRCUIT (from the same year), which in its self is hilarious. Especially, when these ‘protector’ robots start to off people with lasers- I mean, how would these be used for, non-lethally, apprehending a perp?! Mind you, these come in handy for the films best ‘kill’, when a female teen, in just a t-shirt and knickers, tries to escape from the pursuing bots. First they shoot a laser at her arse (!) and then, in full view of all her friends in the store, shoot a laser at her head which explodes in a shower of gore- splattering up the store window!.... What also comes to mind is that old joke- "How do escape from a Dalek?"...(answer) "Run down some stairs!. These kill-bots, despite having five foot long tank treads, chase the teens up escalators!... And despite all the cheesy fun CHOPPING MALL manages its fair share of scares and the last half of the film is a, mostly, effective and exciting game of cat and mouse.

        It is well known that exploitation film makers love a trend, especially one that is big box office and will churn out endless low budget carbon-copies of mainstream hits. However, in the case of CHOPPING MALL, this tale of security robots malfunctioning and offing teens actually switches the formula and pre-dates, by one year, Paul Verhoeven’s big budget ROBOCOP (1987). The central theme- killer robots, is perhaps the only thing they have in common- although the first demonstration scene in CHOPPING MALL looked a little like a similar one in the later film and I expect CHOPPING MALL's entire budget wouldn’t even have covered the catering bill on Verhoeven’s studio movie! Anyway, as fun as it is, CHOPPING MALL is hardly the height of innovativeness. It is in fact an update of a made-for-tv movie TRAPPED (1973), where a man finds himself entombed in a mall overnight with only guard dogs for company.....But if you want a bit of mindless mid-80’s slasher fun you could do a lot worse (and I mean that- a LOT worse), than Jim Wynorski’s CHOPPING MALL.

BODYCOUNT 9  bodycount!   female:3 / male:6

       1) Male has his neck slashed
       2) Male has neck punctured by robot
       3) Male electrocuted
       4) Male teen has throat slit
       5) Female teen's head explodes with a laser shot
       6) Female teen burnt to death
       7) Male teen falls to his death
       8) Female teen killed with lasers
       9) Male teen electrocuted