Chopping Mall

If you enjoy campy 80’s horror, you must see “Chopping Mall.” A horror movie filmed in 1986, they packed a fantastic amount of brilliance into those 77 minutes. The movie is about three new incredibly high tech (for 1986) security robots designed to patrol an LA shopping mall at night. They seem awfully expensive for this job, and curiously over-weaponized for scaring away teenagers, with their tazers, mechanical claws, explosives, and the ability to shoot laser beams out of their “eyes.” Essentially, they’re military-grade killer robots, programmed not to hurt anybody, so they’ll be safe for mall security. For some reason, though, they’re called “Killbots.” You can see where this is going.

The movie is set in LA (or rather a mall in LA), where it almost never even rains, but out of nowhere one night, there’s a crazy lightning storm. No rain, just insane lightning. Oh no! What will these sudden power surges do to the robots and the mall computers with which they share an interface?! It won’t turn the computers (which control the doors, locks, and elevators of the mall) evil, will it?

I was shocked when it did. But what could it matter, having security robot go bad after the mall closes? Well, I’ll tell you. It just happened that that very night, there was a party at the mall furniture store. An AFTER-HOURS PARTY! With TEEN-AGERS (presumably) who worked in the store. The furniture store aspect was brilliant, because otherwise, how would these kids have sex? If they have a party in the record store, sure, they have sweet 80s tunes, but it’s hard to get freaky in the cassette bin. No, this was the furniture store, so there were lots of beds (and, in a case of inexplicable set design given the intended demographic of the film, a $3000 Eames Lounge Chair & Ottoman). The issue here is that it’s not an 80s horror movie without boobies. No worries; there would be boobies. (On really skanky chicks, but still — boobies!)

So the mall closes, a bunch of kids and their girlfriends stay after work at Furniture King to party, party, party (perhaps the lamest party ever, considering there are only eight people), three of the four couples get naked (since one couple — the nerdy smart couple, of course — does not, you immediately know who will be surviving until the end of the film), lightning strikes, one robot kills the guy who monitors the security system up in the “computer room,” one of the girls wants a cigarette but doesn’t have any, so she sends her boyfriend out into the mall for smokes. (To get him to come back soon, she flashes him. Oh, and there was also a little nudity in the locker room. At the mall. Because if you’ve ever had a job at a mall, you probably showered there.) The guy goes to the cigarette vending machine (remember those?) out in the darkened part of the mall, and surprise, a killbot kills him. His girlfriend, wondering where he’s been, goes looking for him, finds his dead body, and the murderous killbot. The killbot chases her, shooting lasers at her as she runs down the mall hallway. As she passes in front of the furniture store, where her friends are all watching through the glass doors, the killbot lands a laser blast right in the gal’s head, causing it to grotesquely explode. It was sweet. It was so good, I found the video. Click it to view.

The film goes on from there, with the three killbots chasing and killing the kids. The kids do manage to kill two killbots using supplies found at the sporting goods store and the auto supply shop (explosive propane tanks, flares, and a machine gun — it’s a really kick-ass sporting goods store).

Some other highlights:
* At one point, after seeing his girlfriend killed, a guy goes all kamikaze, screams insanely, and drives a golf cart into a robot. You really need to see it. (Sadly, I can’t find a video of that moment. Really, there are so many priceless moments…)
* A great line: “Let’s go send those *uckers a Rambogram!”
* Another great line: “It’s not you, Bernie. I guess I’m just not used to being chased around a mall at night by killer robots.” Amen, sister.

It’s available on DVD, but we saw it on Showtime. Don’t watch it alone — not because it’s actually scary, but because this is a film that must be watched with somebody special to be truly appreciated. ***** out of *****. Oh, and you can watch the entire trailer here.


Sarah says


Kevin Howlett says

I loves me some boobies and a bit of the old ultra-violence...these damn public computers won't load the video of the exploding skank-head! Dammit!

Daniel Montoya, Jr. says

killbots huh... sounds like a title to a marching band show that I can FINALLY add the under-rated dance, the Robot, too!!!

wu says

Dear John,

I tried many time to email you on your email address, but the emials still got returned. I hope you may receive this email!
Could you please tell me how to order "Rush Hour"? I hope to play the music for my percussion recital. I could pay by credit
card or any other form you wish, just hope to receive the music soon that I may start practicing. Thank you very much for your help in advance! You are
such an amazing composer!

My address:
11F, No. 115, ZILI Street,
Sindian City, Taipei County,
Taiwan, R.O.C.

Pei-ching Wu

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