For this week’s EXPLOITATION ALLEY, I wanted to go with a movie that I really liked. I didn’t want to watch something for the first time, or just stumble across something on Netflix. So, after deciding that it would be a familiar movie, I looked through my collection and kept asking myself, “what would fun to write about?”. I had recently just watched Scream Factory’s amazing bluray release of FROM BEYOND, so the awesome as hell Barbara Crampton was still fresh in my mind, so it dawned on me, CHOPPING MALL! I hadn’t watched it in a while, so I figured, what better genre movie than that? With EXPLOITATION ALLEY, I try not to be contained to a specific time period, I like to write about genre films throughout every era, and what sums up exploitation more than a mall, killer robots and boobs? So, grab your shopping bags, try not to get your heads blown off, and watch out!, it’s CHOPPING MALL time!!
Produced by Roger and Julie Corman and directed by Jim Wynorski (976-EVIL 2, many softcore b-movies), CHOPPING MALL tells the tale of a group of young adults who think it’s a genius idea to have a sleepover at the mall that they work at, and are stalked and slowly dispatched by a set of new robot security units gone wrong. It doesn’t get much better than that folks. Death, destruction, Barbara Crampton, and some really unintentionally bad scenes, the stuff my boyhood dreams were made of.
The film begins with a group of folks watching a video about the mall’s new security: some crazy ass robots. The mall manager swears that they’re fail-safe, and that nothing could wrong (yeah right..), but nobody buys it, especially a couple played by Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov (reprising their roles from the great EATING RAOUL). After the presentation is done, we’re then introduced to four couples: Allison and Ferdy (Kelli Maroney and Tony O’Dell), Greg and Suzie (Nick Segal and Barbara Crampton), Rick and Linda (Russell Todd and Karrie Emerson) and the very forgettable Mike and Leslie. All of them are excited for the mall sleepover, with the exception of Allison and Ferdy, who are by far the only ones that seem to have half a brain between the two of them.
Out of nowhere, a lightning storm happens, and by golly, the robots come alive!, killing the security watchman, and heading on their way, into the mall to pretty much dispatch of anyone who gets in the way. These metal bastards mean business, I mean hell, they even kill Dick Miller! (Miller plays a cranky janitor).
Killing Roger Corman regulars can’t fill the movie, so obviously some of the principal cast has to go, so the robots set their sights on the youngsters partying. First to go is Mike, who dies only because of Leslie’s craving for cigarettes. A robot appears, shocks him and then uses what looks like a toy claw to choke him to death. Leslie, wondering what’s taking Mike so long, leaves the store they were hanging out and screwing in (yes, they were doing it in the mall) and faster than you can say “Leslie gets her head blown off”, well…Leslie gets her head blown off by the robots, who suddenly have the abilities to shoot lasers out.
The gang flips their shit, and all make a run for it, the men to “Peckinpah’s” (witty) and the women to find flares and flammable liquid, and after Suzie has a panic attack, they are halfway ambushed by some of the robots. The men blow one of the robots up (or so they think), and the women encounter a robot as well, which leads to one of the most irritating scenes of all time for me. My problem is this: if one of the characters had to be set on fire and killed by one of the robots..they chose the wrong fucking character! The robots blast a flammable can that Suzie is holding, igniting her, and pissing young (and now not so young) Jerry off. How could you take Barbara Crampton out like that!! I know Crampton was supposed to be the more carefree, wild one of the girls, but damn, is she fun to watch in anything. More more interesting than Kelli Maroney as Allison.
Obviously pissed off, Suzie’s boyfriend Greg starts to go nuts, being careless and eventually gets himself thrown over a ledge by one of the robots, leaving only two couples left. The remaining group realizes that in order to stop the robots, they need to make their way to the third level, where the main robot control room is, and when ambushed by the robots, they set up a bunch of mannequins to throw the Bots off, which helps but eventually one of the robots’ lasers hits and kills Linda, and like EVERY guy in this movie, Rick goes nuts and drives a golf cart into one of the robots, killing it, along with himself. Bright folks here everyone.
Now with only one robot left, Allison is cornered and when she’s about to get blasted, Ferdy puts himself in the way, getting shot by a laser and seemingly dies. Like any survivor girl, Allison finds some strength and after setting a trap for the lone robots in a store, spilling paint and thinner on the ground, she blows the robot bastard up, saving herself and the day…and get this!..As Allison walks away, Ferdy appears, not dead! In fact, he’s A-ok! (hehe). All is well, and they exit the mall.
Though it’s not without its errors (WHY DID YOU KILL CRAMPTON!!), CHOPPING MALL is a cheesy yet fun ride, full of funny scenes, and a really cool premise. They don’t make movies like this one anymore, movies that are just simply fun. Check it out, and until next week, have a good one!!