I don’t have the foggiest idea why, but Facebook shows me a lot of ads for robot security companies like Knightscope. I certainly don’t have the property or resources to justify robotic security. My angry white house cat provides plenty of security from roving bands of delivery vans. But these ads reminded me of that old 1980s classic Chopping Mall.
This movie tells the story of a group of eight young adults who stay behind after the malls close to party in the furniture store. Unfortunately for them, this is also the first night the mall’s automated security robots come online. A recent lightning strike has scrambled their programing and when the doors lock, the robots kill everyone they see.
Chopping Mall is a light horror comedy movie starring now legendary genre stalwarts Barbara Crampton and Kelli Maroney. Crampton had by this time already completed a tour of duty on Days of Our Lives and starred in Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator. Maroney had been in Ryan’s Hope and One Life to Live.
This movie was also, funnily enough, at least Kelli Maroney’s third time shooting a movie at the Sherman Oaks Galleria; she’d been there for Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Night of the Comet as well. Most of the movie happens here, which turns Chopping Mall into time-capsule.
I am an 80s kid myself, and seeing so much of an honest-to-god 80s mall in high definition is a real treat. Post-millennial nostalgic film recreations always look like ground-zero for a Lisa Frank explosion.
Chopping Mall is filmmaker Jim Wynorski’s second film. Sharp-eyed genre fans will recognize posters for many Roger Corman movies scattered throughout the mall, including several of Lost Empire, Wynorski’s first movie. (MST3K has announced his 1992 movie, Munchie, will feature in the 2022 season.)
There are many great cameos. The first scene shows us that Paul and Mary Bland (from Eating Raoul) have opened their restaurant here. Angus Scrimm, the Tall Man from Phantasm, is also there — but you’ll have to squint to see him. Professional “That Guy” Dick Miller, yet again using his favorite character name “Walter Paisley,” gets more screen time as a janitor murdered by security bots.
Chopping Mall is a solid, entertaining, by-the-books Corman-style production. It’s on-location scenes make it more fun to watch now than it might have originally been because it captures more of the authentic 1980s. It’s also good enough to be an entry into genre filmmaking without being overly bloody, gross, or even reprehensible. It is a good time, and you should check it out.
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