Saturday, 26 March 2011

Chopping Mall (1986).

When a shopping mall decides to turn it’s security over to laser-armed robots and a bunch of youngsters decide to stay in the mall to party late at night what’s the worst that could happen?
Director Jim Wynorski (who co-wrote this with Steve Mitchell) is someone I tend to like, despite most of his output being movies that you only watch for giggles when you have enough alcohol to accompany the experience. How can you not like a guy who made Scream Queen Hot Tub Party? Chopping Mall remains one of his best films though, to be fair, I’ve only seen this one and Vampirella and have yet to catch the delights of titles such as The Da Vinci Coed and The Bare Wench Project. Hell, I kinda want to see Cleavagefield purely based on the cheeky title.
But I digress.
The reason why Chopping Mall works so well is pure and simple: it’s fun. The robots can grab with pincers, electrocute people and fire their lasers while those stuck in the mall can panic and try to figure out how to defeat the three metal psychos. Wynorski doesn’t let things like logic or believability get in the way here but that’s okay because the whole thing is set up simply to maintain the mall-set carnage. So we have lasers that can sometimes make someone’s head explode and then simply give someone a small burn, we get large robots being able to creep up on wary victims walking backwards and the superb moment when an angry young man jumps into some small mall cart to ram a robot in a supremely pointless moment of self-sacrifice.
It must also be said that Wynorski knows what horror fans can enjoy. We get a smattering of gratuitous nudity, a bit of intentional comedy here and there, as much variety as possible in the death scenes and small roles for Mary Woronov and the legendary Dick Miller.
The cast are all there to be chased down and scared by the killbots but everyone does just fine with the material. The guys are all pretty forgettable and bland (though each one has a certain defining characteristic) but the female contingent includes Kelli Maroney (familiar to fans of Night Of The Comet) and Barbara Crampton (best known for her work with director Stuart Gordon).
And the killbots? Well, they’re basically a cross between Johnny 5 and Sir Killalot from Robot Wars. They don’t look like speedy, stealthy killers but they certainly do look like they could cause a lot of pain and damage if allowed to. Which the director does, no problem.
I know, deep down, that I shouldn’t like this as much as I do. I know that many others won’t really like it as much as me. But they can write their own review, this one is mine.


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