Chopping Mall

Underrated Gem-Movie Review-1986

Chopping Mall

I nominate the Underrated Gem, "Chopping Mall", from 1986 to be seen as an oft remembered VHS video store closing pick. As a young child I would always pass this VHS and it always caught my eye. At the time, all I had to go on was packaging art, sometimes a picture or qoute about the film. This film ran on pure imagination and speculation. I fought for a long time to rent this time capsule bathed in the mid 80's of a motion picture. I yearned to have this film bathe it's vision over me. I always had a thing for weird, out there films and art work. It has always captured the imagination. I found hope in the odd.

"The story focuses on three security robots turning maniacal, and killing teenage employees inside a shopping mall after dark" Wikipedia. Killer robots and the future of AI has existed in the public zeitgeist for awhile now. What Chopping Mall does is introduce a smart mall and armed robots with killer AI. All it took was a few lighting strikes and these three Protectors are ready for the kill. They don't care if you have your Identification badges. They will identify you as The Kill. These robots can shoot a deadly cable into a target. They can also shoot a deadly cable into their second target. So far no chopping. They are super fast but bulky, yet ninja like to dumb teenagers. The Protectors employ knock out darts and taser cable. All very unchoppy. Some very fun kills here though.

Co-Written and Directed by Jim Wynorski. Jim is no stranger to horror and genre films, many of his first films seeing theatrical release and subsequent films mainly straight to video, streaming, and cable. He worked closely with Roger and Julie Corman to produce this Technological Tale of Terror. It was released by Conchorde Pictures to a less than critical or commercial success. In time it would grow a cult following with vhs and dvd bootleggers.

This American Sci-Fi/Horror film shines as a creepy, satirical look at technology with a deadly twist. Rounding out the cast of young mall employees are the perfect choices for the time and place. Starring Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, John Terlesky, Russel Todd, and Barbara Crampton. There would go on to be a few references to another of Maroney's films, Night of the Comet. She also appeared in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Barbarba Crampton of Re-Animator and From Beyond fame would meet her demise as a troubled teen in this picture. Dick Miller shows up for a brief cameo. He was known for playing the beleaguered everyman, often in one-scene appearances. Miller's main roles have been in films such as Gremlins, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Explorers, Piranha, The Howling, A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors, Chopping Mall, Night of the Creeps, The Terminator, The 'Burbs, Small Soldiers, and various more. Tony O'Dell plays Ferdy. He is well known for Head of the Class, Karate Kid 1-2, and Cobra Kai. Mary Woronov also from Night of the Comet briefly appears as part of a couple at the special opening of the unveiling of The Protectors. Paul Barten Writer/Director/Actor of Eating Rahoul plays Woronov's husband in brief tongue in cheek mode, setting up the tone of things to come. Russel Todd of Friday the 13th part 2 fame and Bold and Beautiful, as well as The Young and the Restless appears as a teen. John Terlesky went on to become a film and television director. He played a teenager who should have looked where he was going. Quite the assemblage of talent on display here. They would all go on to some notoriety. I think they all are working still to this day.

I had a lot of fun with this flick. It was a cheesy good time at the movies.Sci-fi and Horror, with a trapped in building framework. The phantom mall picture. If you want to laugh and cringe at how well this movie has held up over the test of time. A great film to watch in a group. You won't believe some of the decisions these kids make. You almost start rooting for the robots. But then there is Kelli Maroney. Wholesome girl next door, yet is a sniper when it comes to shooting. A great reference to one of her other films. They both share the fact their fathers are Marines and they can both shoot. Oh the 80's. Heavy on cheese and technology that didn't quite exist at the time. Light on the plot and details. Heavy with consumerism of the time. The Socio-Economic state was much different at that time. In closing, I recommend this flick. Though if you are waiting till the end credits for a chopping scene, you will have to wait till the remake. If you can get over the fact of being ticked off by no chopping. You'll eventually be okay. May this film take your mind off of non chopping killer robot films.

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Francis Piccolella
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