Monday, July 6, 2009

Chopping Mall (1986)

The ‘80s gave us a large number of cheesy horror movies, but only a precious few gave us killer robots running amuck…and perhaps only one gave us killer rent-a-cop robots running rampant in a mall! That movie, of course, would be 1986’s Chopping Mall (aka Killbots)! Love it or hate it, you can’t deny Chopping Mall’s high cheese and big hair factor, making it the perfect flick to watch when you don’t want to strain your brain!

Our tale starts with a mall employing three robots as their after hours crime fighting team. They are supposed to offer non-lethal protection from intruders (as evidenced by an infomercial-type film shown to the mall tenants in the first few minutes of the film), but when lighting strikes and fries their control unit, the robots begin killing people with their super-duper lasers, clamping claws and various other robotic implements.

That same night, a group of young mall employees have decided to spend the night inside the mall in a furniture store and PAR-TAY! When the killbots get loose, though, the slowly dwindling group must find a way to escape from the robots’ metallic clutches.

Chopping Mall has all the standards of an ‘80s horror flick – boobs, gratuitous sex (ewwww, I wouldn’t wanna be the person that ends up buying that sofa!), poofy hair, bodysuits, ‘80s dancing (to music from a gen-u-ine boombox!) and crappy special FX, including the pinkish-red lasers the robots shoot. It lacks much of a story (it IS only 70 minutes long) and the gore is almost nonexistent, but besides its low budget and high cheese factor, I found myself giddily enjoying Chopping Mall!

This feature’s claim to fame is an impressive exploding head shot that’s right up there with Scanners. Courtesy of one of the robots laser beams, an unfortunate’s head explodes just like the watermelons in Gallagher’s act do. Besides that, there sadly isn’t much gore in the rest of the film. We get a few necks slit open, a guy gets electrocuted, a girl is lit on fire, and so on. There is even one extremely weak death where a robot pushes the guy over the railing and he falls three stories to his death. Talk about anticlimactic…

Besides the disappointing deaths, the film’s plot is almost nonexistent and relies on the horny kids running through the mall and trying to get away from the killbots. And I still don’t understand how the robots moved from level to level. How the heck did they fit on the escalators? Still, when you just want to turn your brain off and enjoy some robot mayhem, Chopping Mall fits the bill perfectly.

It’s nice that writers Steve Mitchell and Jim Wynorski (who also directed) tried to give us a bit of character development in the beginning (ooooh new girl and nerdy boy really hit it off! How cute!), but this is all pretty much lost on the audience when the robots come out to play. The stereotypical asshole and bitch (who are also a couple…who says opposites attract?) die first, which was nice just so they would shut up, but the rest of the couples are just kinda “meh,” just leaving us to wonder who’s gonna be short circuited next.

Despite these detractors, if you have low expectations you can totally enjoy this cheesy ’80s film. I couldn’t very well take a film too seriously that featured Casio synths throughout the entire film! The fun part IS in its cheesiness, though!

So sit back, turn off your brain and enjoy! Don’t forget to “Have a nice day”!

Available from Amazon!

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