Thursday, February 28, 2008

Chopping Mall (1986)

Where shopping can cost you an arm and a leg.

I put a piece up a while back about Jim Wynorski's first film The Lost Empire the following year he directed Chopping Mall for Roger Corman's 'Concorde Pictures' The original story was going to be a typical killer loose in a shopping mall, then they thought about a film called Trapped that featured a man trapped overnight in a mall with 6 vicious Doberman guard dogs. Wynorski remembered a 1954 film he'd seen as a child called Gog featuring a secret underground laboratory, the home of two experimental robots. Machines that start to act independently coordinated by supercomputer. With this he decided to make the main bad guys in Chopping Mall not security guards or guard dogs but Robots.

Plot Summary:
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.

Chopping Mall was filmed at the now demolished 'Sherman Oaks Galleria' in L.A. used in such films as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Innerspace and Commando. The film stars Kelli Marony (Night of the Comet) Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond) and a host of other low budget actors who I'd never really heard of. Also featuring are Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov in a cameo as their characters from Eating Raoul. Corman regular Dick Miller (Gremlins, The Terminator, Innerspace) has an appearance as Walter Paisley, the name of a character he's played in a few other movies including A Bucket of Blood and The Howling.
The film itself is typical 80's teen horror with a group of young men and women being dispatched in various ways. The film does have one of the best exploding heads that I've seen, Wynorski himself says on the commentary that after Scanners he thinks it's the best one. The Robots themselves are quite good fun, not sure where they got some of the laser cutting equipment etc... from, as this stuff isn't mentioned at the start of the film when they're explaining what the robots can do.
In a few scenes you can actually see people walking about on other levels of the mall, even though our characters are meant to be the only ones there, probably late night shoppers.

The actual DVD is mastered from the VHS master as the film's negative was tied up in some legal wranglings.

My favourite line in the movie spoken by one of the girls is "I'm just not used to being chased around a mall in the middle of the night by killer robots."


Natalie said...

That chick should move here. Every single time I get chased around by robots, it's at the mall in the middle of the night.

Michael G Clark said...

Sounds like a classic of science fiction.

Where are the robo guards in the shopping malls where I live? They could lock the chavs in the store with them.

Moonwatcher said...

This movie looks class. Anything with Killer robots is cool with me.

Andrew Glazebrook said...

Natalie those are the risks of Late night shopping trips !

Michael if they had robots in the shopping malls here they'd be nicked and sold for spare parts !

allen said...

I'd never even heard of that movie. You should make a top 10 or 20 list of these types of movies.

Chris Battle said...

HA-- an old girlfriend of mine worked for the center actor in the lower right pic (His best line? "Let's send these fuckers a Rambo-gram!") He's now an agent who represents cinematographers.