What beats a lightning bolt as a plot device? It’s been used to catalyze countless sci-f plots. And that’s all that’s required to make robotic security personnel go haywire in Chopping Mall, a film that features a whole lot of mall, and not much in the way of chopping.
The brainchild of genre icon Jim Wynorski (who gave us, among other titles, Sorority House Massacre II, Big Bad Mama II, and The Return of Swamp Thing) Chopping Mall has as its source material, a narrative that has a long and storied past in the world of dystopian fiction: a clarion call about the warning of technology gone awry.
With some futurists warning as recently as September, 2017, that about half of all jobs will soon be automated, this is a deep well to draw from to this day, and puts Chopping Mall ahead of its slasher genre-mates, with which it shares some structural similarities.
In the 80s, shopping malls were coming into their own, eating up suburban real estate and becoming de facto community centers and hang-out spots, supplanting the drive-in a decade prior, and the malt shop before that.
In Chopping Mall, management for a run-of-the-mill mall install a new robotic security system. They’re basically assisted living scooters crossed with Dr Who Daleks (minus the bubbles), but with a more aerodynamic shape and slitty lit-up “eyes.” They’ve been programmed to ask questions first (“ID”), and shoot later. Unfortunately for some after-hours mall staffers, as well as some teen partiers, this functionality gets buggered and backwards by electrical short.
So let the killings begin!
Teen furniture store staff conspire to drink beer and engage in sexual hijinks after-hours (after all, they’ve got it made when it comes to beds). The crew includes the legendary Barbara Crampton as Suzie, and Kelli Maroney (Fast Times at Ridgemount High) as Alison. And there is also some fratty canon fodder and the requisite nerd.
They must test their mettle against the killer bots (this film was initially released as the more accurate, Killbots).
A Julie Corman production (she of Candy Stripe Nurses and the terrifically buggy, The Nest, which we podcasted), Chopping Mall has some cheeky, overt references to other films, such as Eating Raoul, a Really Awful Movies site favorite.
And it’s equally as fun.
***1/2 (out of 5)
[CHECK OUT OUR REALLY AWFUL MOVIES PODCAST DISCUSSION OF CHOPPING MALL!]