BADass SINema Unearthed - Blu-ray Review
- Published Date
- by Loron Hays
The Killbots are coming!!! The Killbots are coming!!! Grab your wayfarers, pop your collars, and hitch up your chinos, we’re heading to the mall of the future. With robots providing security detail, the Park Place Mall is slashing its prices … and its customers. Wait, what? Thanks to a freak electrical storm, the three robots in this film – newly-commissioned to keep the peace in the mall – turn against the very people they are there to protect. Hailing from the golden age of shoulder-padded goofiness comes Chopping Mall, a film far more entertaining than it has any right to be.
Filmed entirely inside the Sherman Oaks Galleria (with exteriors provided by the Beverly Center), Chopping Mall is a 77-minute story of survival inside capitalism’s pearly gates. In America, THE MALL is everything. That was never more apparent than in the 1980s and this low budgeted film takes full advantage of its shopping location. As a result, there is an appreciated realness to the pulpish nightmare situation the four teenage couples at the center of this narrative face.
Don’t believe me? Just see if you don’t grin with recognition when you see The Almond House store in the background or ANY of the other (now defunct) clothing stores the movie was shot in and around. The physicality of the locale adds a lot of inepensive flair to this low budget horror flick. Of course it also solidly locks it in a certain time and palce but that's part of the charm of the picture. And so is the inclusion of Night of the Comet’s Kelli Maroney. She’s both fun and funny in her role as the sweet-natured virgin looking to score with the spectacled Ferdy (Tony O’Dell) her friends are setting her up with. Who knew a blind date could be this dangerously loaded with science fiction melodrama?!
Directed by exploitation guru Jim Wynorski (The Lost Empire, The Return of Swamp Thing, Scream Queen Hot Tub Party, 976-Evil II, Ghoulies IV, and Sorceress) and produced by Julie Corman (who wanted to make a movie about a killer rampaging through a mall), Chopping Mall explains why you should never plan to throw an after hours party inside a mall. Like ever. Like ever, ever - especially a shopping hub aided by the super-tech abilities on display from three armed robots. Hell, one single armed robot would be enough to discourage my lame ass. Most of these hormonal teens work for other stores in the mall; they know its ins and outs and, with the inclusion of the robots – that look like a cross-between over-sized Roomba cleaning units and Short Circuit’s Johnny 5 – feel more secure than ever before. So why not plan a sleepover in the furniture store? All the cool kids are doing it!
The three robots are why not. Their mission to kill means they take no shit from anyone and, one by one, the teens are exterminated with extreme prejudice. You know teens like to wander off...
Poor Suzee Slater, playing Leslie Todd (the more "experienced" of the group), is forever immortalized by a kill shot “kiss” from one of the robots that completely obliterates her pretty face. Her character becomes the butt of the joke again when the closing credits roll. The remains of her face – having just been blown to bits by a killbot – are all we see in the freeze-frame credit that lists her name as the cast is showcased a final time. It’s a tongue-in-cheek nod that I’m sure got a lot of applause from the audience. It STILL gets a reaction.
With cameos from Dick Miller (as Walter Paisley, of course) and Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov (rehashing their characters from Eating Raoul), there’s an inherent silliness to most of the set-up that adds to the film’s overall breeziness and its lasting impact. Sure, the film gets its gore on but, really, nothig here is threatening. For a lot of B-movie aficionados, all you have do to earn a cheer or two is cast Dick Miller in your movie. Chopping Mall does that and then rewards you more with scenes of these youngsters picking up shotguns at a store IN THE MALL. Shotguns. Hilarious. That doesn't tend to happen anymore. Of course, that’s before all the explosions take front and center in the film. And then we really cheer. Guns! Gore! Boobs! Robots! Ka-BOOOOOM!
Peppered with one hilarious line after another, Chopping Mall proves that, yes, the robots ARE taking over. NUMBER 5 IS ALIVE!
MPAA Rating: R.
Runtime: 77 mins
Director: Jim Wynorski
Writer: Jim Wynorski, Steve Mitchell
Cast: Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, Russell Todd
Tagline: Where shopping costs you and arm and a leg.
Memorable Movie Quote: "What if these things can read our minds?"
Theatrical Distributor: Concorde Pictures
Release Date: March 21, 1986
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: September 27, 2016
Synopsis: Eight teenagers are trapped after hours in a high tech shopping mall and pursued by three murderous security robots out of control.
Home Video Distributor: Lionsgate/Vestron Video
Available on Blu-ray - September 27, 2016
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles: English SDH
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; Music: Dolby Digital 2.0
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: Region A
Offered courtesy of Lionsgate Films and its new Vestron Video imprint in 1.78:1, the AVC-encoded 1080p transfer is a relative goldmine of previously unseen details and colors. The clothing in and of itself is a reason to appreciate the visual “pop” throughout the high definition transfer. The robots and their detail tags are especially nice. The crisp image quality is the best you’re going to get with a film like this and, admittedly, even a bit better than expected. Some stuff from the same era hasn’t made the HD transition quite as well, but Chopping Mall looks better than it did in the theater. Colors are perfect. Blacks are solid. Skin tones are detailed and appropriate. The sound – offered here in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono track - is decent enough with dialogue and synthesized score pulses.
- There are THREE SOLID COMMENTARIES that fans of the movie well certainly appreciate. The first is with Director / co-writer Jim Wynorski, actress Kelli Maroney, and co-writer / 2nd Unit Director Steve Mitchell. The second is with Film Historians Nathaniel Thomspon (from Mondo Video) and Ryan Turek (from Shock 'til you drop). The Third is with Wynorski and Mitchell.
But, first, a note from Lionsgate: “Vestron Video has been a leader in providing the most unique and wide-ranging selection of films. We honor the spirit of Vestron Video by presenting the Vestron Video Collectors Series - a line of classic genre films newly remastered and with a wealth of supplementary features.” They aren’t kidding either. There are THREE commentaries and a lot of NEW featurettes about the making of the movie. From the casting to the editing, Chopping Mall is absolutely honored by Lionsgate’s work here, adding to the appeal of this movie. There’s an isolated score to get your synthesized skills in shape, looks at the creation of the robots, a sort-of Q&A session with one of the robots, a lost scene introduction and inclusion, and the obligatory original theatrical trailer.
- Chuck Cirino Isolated Score
- Back to the Mall (26 min)
- Chopping Chopping Mall (8 min)
- Talkin’ About The Killbots (12 min)
- Scoring Chopping Mall (11 min)
- The Robot Speaks (2 min)
- The Lost Scene (3 min)
- Army of One (6 min)
- Chopping Mall: Creating The Killbots (16 min)