Chopping Mall (1986) [R] Directed by Jim Wynorski
Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey $16.99 750 ML at New Hampshire State Liquor Store
I laid low this weekend, trying to defeat a nasty cold. I decided a few sips of Grampa’s Olde Cough Medicine wouldn’t hurt matters. I grabbed a bottle of Tullamore Dew that I had purchased at a New Hampshire state packy and rummaged through a box of videos that I found at an incredible yard sale in Yarmouth. In addition to the box of VHS tapes, I found a talking Freddy Krueger doll, a Miami Vice board game, a book about Ed Gein and a bunch of comic books. All for 10 bucks! There are plenty of obscure horror movies in the box, but I settled on “Chopping Mall”, a film I have seen at least twice before.
The cover of this video used to scare the bejesus out of me when I was a kid. A robotic hand holds a shopping bag full of cut up body parts. The tagline reads “Where shopping can cost you an arm and a leg!” IMDB says that this film was originally entitled “Killbots”, and although “Chopping Mall” is a great title, I think the original name suits the film better. The story concerns an ultra modern shopping mall that has lethal robots for security guards. The robot guards go crazy and start killing indiscriminately. Although they have lazer guns, electrocution tazers and little grippy claws, they aren’t equipped with any sort of chopping or slicing apparatus. There are no chain saws or blades in their repertoire. None of their victims actually lose an arm or a leg. So, the tagline, the cover and the title are all quite inaccurate. My personal quibble.
I thought that the pairing of a fine Irish whiskey with a film about killer robot mall cops would be a no brainer. I was halfway right. The Tully, as drunks affectionately call it, is a delicious whiskey. It has less burn than the spicy Bushmill’s and the quite smooth Jameson. There is little to no burn on the way down, but you do feel a fire in your belly upon swallowing. It has a pleasant aftertaste and lacks any real spice. Either I was tired from being sick all day and not doing anything, the Tully is too sublime, or someone slipped me a micky, because I fell asleep with about 15 minutes left in the film. This was about 9 p.m., mind you. I had only had about 2 and a half Tullies on the rocks, but I was knocked out. Well, I’ll review what I was a awake for.
The robots look like some sort of hybrid between the war machines of the future from the first “Terminator”, the Daleks and Kit from “Knight Rider”. They have awesome voices, and like everything futuristic, make neat sounds whenever they move. The film starts with a cool cold opening that turns out to be a promotional film for the guards. It says “The End”, and I almost thought that I had forgotten to rewind the film for a second. A crowd of people are shown in the mall watching the promo. Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov, of the great “Eating Raoul” are in the front row and have some great wisecracks like:
Paul: “They remind me of your mother, it’s the lazer eyes.”
Bartel and Woronov's presence is highly touted on the back cover of the film, but they are sadly only present for about 5 minutes. The real credits begin and we are treated to a “wacky shenanigans at the mall” montage, as clips of well, wacky shenanigans at the mall roll by over some cheesy 80s tunes. It is worth noting that there is a record store in this mall called “Licorice Pizza”. Sounds like something the Ninja Turtles would be into.
We are introduced to a nerdy guy and some cool guys. It isn’t worth mentioning their names, because that’s as far as their characters are developed. They work at a furniture store and the nerdy guy’s uncle owns it. The cool guys convince the nerdy guy to let them have a beer and make out party in the store.
The robot guard’s first victim is a scientist, who apparently supervises them. He likes to pig out, as he mentions that there was a buffet and he just “couldn’t help pigging out.” He then eats a donut that his colleague left lying around. Then he gets killed by the robot guards. I love the somewhat overdeveloped minor, incidental victims in horror movies. They are basically like extras, they appear on-screen for a minute then get killed. But, for some reason, maybe to make it seem more realistic, they are given little quirks. Like the girl who can’t get picked up hitchhiking in “Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter”, who also likes to pig out. She actually dies eating a banana.
Some foxy ladies show up to the beer and make out party at the furniture store and everyone except the nerd and his “date” start making out. Pretty convenient, when you think about it. You have some ladies over to your furniture store for a beer party, and before you know it, those beds are being used for more than sleeping! The dialog is incredible.
Guy: “You smell like pepperoni.”
Girl: “If that’s the way you feel...” She gets out of bed.
Guy: “Wait a second, I like pepperoni!”
Girl: “Well, in that case...” She starts singing and stripping.
And we cut to another couple. The girl walks towards the bed wearing some hot lingerie.
Guy: “Lady, you got a license for that outfit?”
Girl: “Why, no officer! I guess you’ll just have to take me in!” She jumps into bed.
As the nerd and his date try to get over their inhibitions and make out like everyone else, they are interrupted by people making out in the background. A girl yells “Oh God! Oh God! You’re the king!” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that, I’d have.....negative a million dollars.
Meanwhile, the mall is closing up and a janitor starts yelling at one of the robot guards and waving his mop at it. The Killbot (I like that more than “robot guard”, and its easier to type.), shoots a tazer into his mop bucket and electrocutes him. After killing the janitor, the Killbot says “Thank you, have a nice day.” This is funny the first time, but gets way overused throughout the film. There is a close-up of the janitor’s smoking body and a voiceover says “Smoking is bad for your health.” Cut to one of the cool guys and his lady having an argument about her cigarette habit! Genius!
He offers her Camels and she says “No, you know I only smoke Virgin Slims.” Best fake brand of cigarettes. He finally says he’ll go to the cigarette machine and get her some. He walks out to get the smokes and gets killed by a Killbot. Then she goes looking for him, with the camera focusing squarely on her butt. The Killbots start shooting lazers at her. The lazers reminded me of the GI Joe cartoons of my youth. I think they even make the same sound, and some are blue and some are red, just like the Joes and Cobra. This lazer battle was different than the GI Joe battles, however, because one of the lazers blows her head off. The other kids witness it. They realize that they are locked in the mall overnight with the Killbots and decide to arm themselves. They break into “Peckinpah’s Sporting Goods” (!) and get a bunch of guns and propane tanks. One of the cool guys says “Lets go send those fuckers a Rambo-gram!”
As more of the mall is revealed in their walking around, I realized that this was the same mall from the all time classic “Commando”. The mall where Arnold throws a phone booth at some people, beats up a shitload of mall cops and swings on a giant balloon onto an elevator. That mall. I got to thinking, as I sometimes do, that maybe “Commando” is a prequel to this movie. It was made one year earlier, had a sequence in the same mall and featured a crazed bodybuilder decimating its entire mall cop force. Maybe the mall decided to improve its security after that blitzkrieg and went with the Killbots. Even Arnold would have a hard time dealing with these bastards. They are completely bulletproof, and fireproof, as the nerd and the cool guys and the foxy ladies learn the hard way.
Arnold decimates the human mall cops that were later replaced with Killbots.
The movie has some great juvenile logic, like mirrors will reflect the death lazers and shoot them back at the Killbots. One guy’s daring act of self sacrificing courage is to hit a Killbot with a golf cart, thus killing himself and destroying the Killbot. When I passed out, I think only the nerd and his date were still alive. I awoke to the tape ejecting itself after auto-rewinding. My only other viewing note is “Passed out, must be sleeping pills in the Tullamore Dew.”
I then completely woke up, did the dishes, and watched about two hours of “The Kids in the Hall” Season 1, which I found NEW at Newbury Comics for ten bucks! Deal of the century. Considering that I only probably paid about a quarter dollar for “Chopping Mall”, I am really getting away with some steals here! And what a better time for hot deals and savings than with this crappy economy getting crappier.
All in all, “Chopping Mall” is just stupid and gory enough to recommend for a fine drinking and viewing experience. Tullamore Dew is delicious, but after it knocked me out like that, I am wary of it. Also, if in fact “Commando” and “Chopping Mall” are connected, as I highly suspect, then that may have been the beginning of the greatest franchise ever. Each movie is connected only in that they all concern the security force at the same mall. Think about the possibilities! They could have gone the comedy route and had a goofy Police Academy style movie next, or maybe have Arnold return as a one man security force. Damn, the possibilities are sky high.
Misleading trailer! The kids didn't break into the mall! They worked there!
Author's Note: The director of this fine film, Jim Wynorski, apparently went on to specialize in softcore adult fare, and the titles of his newer films are definitely worth mentioning.
... aka Bare Wench III: The Path of the Wicked (USA)
... aka Bare Wench: The Path of the Wicked (USA: DVD title)
... aka Bare Wench 2: Book of Babes (USA)
... aka Book of Babes: Bare Wench 2 (USA: video box title)