Chopping Mall
directed by Jim Wynorski
(Concorde, 1986)

Even if you're expecting to watch a mad serial killer hacking up a bunch of shoppers with his trusty axe, I don't think you'll be terribly disappointed in the goings on down at ye olde Chopping Mall.

In a move sure to anger mall security guards worldwide, the managers of this mall have decided to replace the old security staff with three super-keen robots with all kinds of nifty weapons and tools tailor-made for stopping and detaining any hooligan who dares to invade the sanctity of the mall after closing time. These "Protectors" are all like fast-moving little tanks equipped with lasers, claws, sleep darts and other assorted goodies.

If you learn nothing else from this movie, just be assured that you should not plan a big after-hours party inside your uncle's furniture store on the same night as security robots are first given the run of the whole mall, especially if the geeky designer of said robots assures everyone that nothing could possibly go wrong -- this is particularly important if huge security doors are set to lock everything and everyone inside until daybreak the next morning. Nothing ruins a night of partying and fornication like seeing a partially clothed teenager get her head blown off by a robot laser weapon (unless you're into that sort of thing, I guess). Once something like that happens, you can pretty much forget about seeing any more nudity that night.

The kids who find themselves terrorized by the killer robots in this film aren't particularly engaging, but at least they try to go out fighting (although you would think that they would figure out that guns aren't effective against the killer robots after the first hundred or so shots do no damage whatsoever). Frankly, I didn't care about any of them apart from the one played by Barbara Crampton, but that was only because she looks like a young Donna Mills. That being said, I couldn't really cheer for the robots either -- let's face it, "Thank you. Have a nice day" just doesn't cut it as a killer robot catchphrase. I kept hoping they would start chanting "Exterminate!" or something, but that never happened.

Despite the blandness of the bots, though, this still turned out to be a pretty fun film to watch -- and at just 77 minutes in length, it doesn't overstay its welcome. You pretty much can't go wrong with any quasi-horror movie from the glorious 1980s.

review by
Daniel Jolley

31 July 2010

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