Chopping Mall: Movie Review

chopping mall - poster

Synopsis:
In an attempt to shore up their overnight security, a mall unveils their new plan: metal security doors  that will close at night.  Also, three patrolling robots.  They swear the robots are non-lethal, but that doesn’t explain their onboard head-exploding lasers.  Some teens decide to have an after-hours party in a furniture store.  Lightning strikes the mall, the non-lethal robots are turned into murder machines and the teens try to survive.

chopping mall - robot
My thoughts:
The original title of this movie was Killbots.  Granted, that’s a pretty cool title, but I think Chopping Mall was the correct choice.  Really, they couldn’t have gone wrong with either of those two options.

chopping_mall-janitor
This was a movie I had heard of, but never got around to watching it.  I didn’t know anything about it other than, “robots kill people in a mall.”  With that description, I should have rushed to watch it the minute I heard it, but, alas, I do not always make the smartest decisions.

chopping mall - mike & robot
The runtime is 77 minutes, which is ridiculous and perfect.  The set-up of “hey, we have robots patrolling a mall for some reason,” and “we’re kids, let’s party in a mall with roaming robots,” takes about 30 minutes.  Shortly after that, the group realizes that these robots will kill (this is where the aforementioned “head-exploding lasers,” come into play), and we’re off to the races.  There isn’t a lot of dead time in this movie.  They set it up, introduce the characters, then start killing them off.  Sure, they could have added another 10 minutes, but for what purpose?  I guess they could have added another couple to kill, but you know what they say: 8 people is a sex party, 10 people is an unlicensed orgy.

Can we talk about the characters for a second?  Because I love them all.

chopping mall - alison & ferdy
Alison & Ferdy – Our main couple.  They were set-up on a blind date.  While everyone else is banging on beds directly behind them, Alison and Ferdy are hanging out on a couch watching old sci-fi movies.  I love them dearly.
Alison is played by Kelli Maroney, who starred in the terrific Night of the Comet.
Ferdy is played by Tony O’Dell, best known for his turn as Alan Pinkard in Head of the Class.  He also played a member of the Cobra Kai in Karate Kid I & II.

chopping mall - greg & suzie
Greg & Suzie – “All they do is have sex and fight.”  Suzie is the one who convinced Alison to come to the party.  She dances like a less-insane version of Crispin Glover in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter.  They’re beautiful people.
Suzie is played by horror icon Barbara Crampton, still cranking out solid horror movies in her late 50s.
Greg is played by Nick Segal, who had a short-lived acting career.  However, his first movie credit was in Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.  So that’s something.

chopping mall - rick & linda
Rick & Linda – Married.  They’re mechanics, and this comes up more often than I thought it would.  They have a really sweet relationship.  For a 77 minute 80s slasher about killer robots, I thought their characters were fleshed out really well.  Of all the couples in this movie, they were my favorite.
Rick is played by Russell Todd, who played Scott in Friday the 13th Part II.

chopping mall - mike & leslie
Mike & Leslie – Terrible people.  TERRIBLE people.  Mike is a stereotypical 80s villain, with big hair and a style of gum-chewing that can conservatively be described as “aggressive.”  Leslie is a shallow mean girl with an ample chest.  She will take her top off for no other reason than it will convince people to buy her cheap cigarettes.  They’re perfect for each other, and it’s clear they will be the first to die.  I have no idea why everyone else hangs out with them.
Mike is played by John Terlesky.  A year before Chopping Mall, he played an uncredited corpse in an episode of V.

chopping_mall-mike_gum
Seriously. Look at this jackass.

I don’t know how many other things I can say about this.  It’s short.  It’s insane.  It’s beautiful.  It’s so gloriously over-the-top that I kind of assume the filmmakers were showing just how ridiculous the slasher genre can be.

chopping_mall-leslie_exploding_head
Make no mistake: this is a slasher movie.  Sure, the killers are robots, but they employ some pretty solid slasher techniques.  Making noises in a dark hallway to make you shout out, “Who’s there?” and “That’s not funny.”  Stalking their victims and striking at the exact right moment.  Sure, once the movie gets rolling the robots are out there in the open, firing their lasers with reckless abandon.  But in the early going, they’re operating in stealth mode.  Like a short, metallic Michael Myers who just happens to say, “Have a nice day,” after killing people.

chopping mall - running
This is a glorious time capsule of mid-80s mall culture and the state of the horror genre.  It’s amazing.  My only complaint is that I didn’t watch it sooner, but that’s on me.

Rating: 5/5

Alright Mike. One more time.
Alright Mike. One more time. Give the people what they want.

Are these the best horror movies of 1980 & 1981?

Were the 80’s the best decade for horror movies or am I just biased because that’s what I grew up on? Perhaps a little bit of both? Either way, I have taken a look back at the movies that this totally tubular decade brought us and picked out my personal favorites. These are listed in chronological order and I am not saying that these are the best movies of the 80’s; they’re simply my best movies of the 80’s.

In an effort to not bombard you with a long list, we will do this in two year blocks. Please, enjoy the best that 1980 and 1981 had to offer.

 

image

1.Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Yes, I actually like this movie. I think we can all agree that the turtle scene is probably the most disturbing thing that has happened to any of us, but outside of that, this is a good movie. Of course a group of American’s thought that they could just go into the cannibals’ world and do whatever they wanted. From the impaled woman to the most awesome castration scene ever, this is an unflinching look at the ugliness of man.

 

image

 

2.The Changeling (1980)
How can a proper ghost story with George C. Scott be anything but fantastic? (Mr. Scott will alway be my favorite Scrooge.) As with most ghost stories, there is a very sad tale at the heart of this film, but it is beautiful, nonetheless. It’s always what you don’t see that is the most terrifying.

 

image

3.Friday the 13th (1980)
Do not, I repeat, do not go get a little somethin’ somethin’ with your girl when you should be watching the kids swimming. Just don’t do it.

image

 

4.Maniac (1980)
Joe Spinelli turned in such a great performance as Frank Zito in this film. He is introduced to us as a crazed man scalping women and talking to mannequins, yet somehow, he convinces a beautiful photographer to go out with him. The kills in this movie are amazing and there are legitimate moments of suspense sprinkled throughout his fast moving downward spiral into insanity. Frank is so crazy that you almost feel bad for him when he meets his ultimate demise at the hands of his own craziness.

image

5.The Shining (1980)
I realize that I am about to lose friends with the following statement. I don’t find this to be an amazing movie. It’s a good movie, but it isn’t great; especially when comparing it to the novel. Yes, yes, it isn’t fair to compare a movie to the book, but how can that, possibly, be avoided? This movie is amazingly beautiful. The twins, the woman in room 237, the blood cascading out of the elevator, even that damn carpet is all a visual feast for the eyes. Jack Nicholson did an undeniably bang up job of channeling Jack’s madness, but outside of that, this movie is a wee bit long and, quite frankly, I wish Wendy would just shut the f*ck up.

image

6.The Watcher In The Woods (1980)
I still vividly remember the first time I saw this movie. They were showing it in the library on the last day of school. About half way in, the teachers realized that this movie was terrifying everyone, so they turned it off. Well, I was having none of that! My mom called every video rental store in town until we found this movie. You know what? It scared the bejeezus out of me. This is a Disney film (no joke) with Bette Davis, a solar eclipse, occult and paranormal themes and it is proper creepy.

image

7.An American Werewolf In London (1981)
This film holds a special place in my heart and it, mostly, holds up today. The werewolf attack is terrifying, zombie Jack popping up in the mirror is still a great jump scare and the transformation scene was so epic, it won Rick Baker an Oscar for Best Makeup. The transformation scene is still, 34 years later, perfection. The wolf running rampant through Piccadilly Circus is scary and heartbreaking all at once. Just a great, great movie.

image

8.Cannibal Ferrox (1981)
So, this one is a bit controversial because it is almost exactly the same as watching Cannibal Holocaust. It’s got it all; real animal deaths, rape, excessive gore and the penultimate castration scene. It seems that people like one of these movies over the other simply by virtue of whichever one they saw first. I enjoyed both equally.

image

9.The Evil Dead (1981)
Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell, a book bound in human flesh, a tree rape, decapitation and all around awesome gore. This movie remains a beloved film for a reason; it rules the world.

image

10.Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)
Really, the main reason for this movie being awesome is we got “Baghead Jason” in this film and I really prefer him to all of the other versions. I also have a strange respect for a sequel that doesn’t have a clever title; just Part 2.

image

11.Halloween 2 (1981)
This is a great one because the action, essentially, picks up right where the first movie left off. Hospitals are creepy enough, but this one is strangely desolate and quiet and it’s being terrorized by Michael Myers. As with any good sequel, this Halloween is much more brutal than it’s predecessor and that is why I can forgive it’s weak spots.

image

12.My Bloody Valentine (1981)
This movie is kind of terrible, but I love it to bits and pieces. It’s just a classic 80’s horror set in a small town with a crazed slasher and teenagers who can’t wait to die. The scene in the laundromat gets me every time and that gas mask is uber creepy.

 

 

image

13. Student Bodies (1981)
Again, this movie is terrible, but it’s so terrible that it’s good. A killer who has some severe anger issues, talks through a rubber chicken and has an obsession with horse head bookends simply doesn’t stop being hilarious to me.