Have I mentioned before how movie posters or VHS/DVD cases can occasionally lie to you about a movie? Well if not, then allow me to clue you in to that tidbit now. See, the object of the poster and case is to attract your attention and make you interested in watching/purchasing said product. I will admit that most of the time these items are pretty spot on but like I said, sometimes they lie. I remember seeing the VHS case for this movie back in the day (which looked slightly different from the poster above), and it had a hand carrying a shopping full of various body parts. To me, it gave the impression of being a slasher film, with blood and limbs going flying as a crazed maniac attacks shoppers in a mall. I mean, I definitely would have watched/bought the movie if that was the case but for me, all they really needed to say to get me to watch Chopping Mall is that Jim Wynorski directed it and Julie Corman produced it and I would have been like “Take my money!”
The plot: At Park Plaza Mall, a meeting/demonstration is held with the store owners to showcase the malls newest security features; time-locked, steel security shutters on the doors and three robots that will patrol the mall and detain any possible criminals. After the new system is in place, a bolt of lightning hits the mall and causes a surge in the security room’s computer. The technician starts to panic when the system alerts start sounding but when everything quiets down, he goes back to looking at a Playboy centerfold. However, the short circuit had caused the robots to go haywire and one of them kills the technician. Inside the mall, Greg and Mike are planning on throwing a party, with their girlfriends and two friends that are recently married, in the furniture store where they work after the mall closes and tell their friend Ferdy that Suzie (Greg’s girlfriend) is bringing a girl for him to meet. Meanwhile, a second technician shows up in the control room and ends up being killed by the robots, which then head out and begin patrolling the mall. One of the robots encounters a janitor mopping up a mess near the food court and fires a taser at him but misses. When the janitor tries hitting the robot with his mop, he steps on the barb, which had landed in a puddle when the mop bucket was knocked over, and ends up electrocuting himself. At the furniture store, Greg and Suzie introduce Ferdy to Suzie’s coworker Alison, and while the three other couple have sex among the various pieces of furniture, Ferdy and Alison watch old horror movies and end up kissing. Needing a cigarette, Leslie sends Mike out to buy her a pack from a nearby vending machine but while he attempts to buy the cigarettes, he encounters one of the robots and is shot with a tranquilizer dart before the robot rips his throat out. Leslie goes looking for Mike and finds his body but a robot starts chasing after her, hitting her with several laser blasts before finally shooting her in the head and making it explode. The others witness Leslie get killed and when a second robot appears, they make their way into the storeroom to hide as the two robots break into the store and begin shooting at them with lasers. Barricading the door, they hear the security shutters closing and realize that they are trapped in the mall all night. Alison points out the air duct and they figure that they can use that to make it down to the parking level and escape. The guys manage to get the girls into the airduct but before they can join them, one of the robots breaks into the storeroom and the guys are forced to run, yelling at the girls to get out of there. The guys manage to get out into the mall and head to a nearby sporting goods store to arm themselves. Now armed, Rick fires a few shots in the air to get the robots’ attention and one of them shows up, the three guys begin shooting at it, eventually throwing a propane tank at the robot, which explodes after they shoot it. Seeing that the robot is down, Rick gets and idea and the guys grab some more propane tanks and head towards the elevators to set a trap for the other robots. Meanwhile As the girls are making there way though the ducts Suzie starts panicking and, believing Greg might be hurt and needs her help, she drops down into a store, with Alison and Linda following as they don’t want to leave her alone. Seeing some cans of gasoline in the store, Linda works on making some firebombs to use against the robots while Alison grabs a flare to use. As they leave the store, they are attacked by one of the robots and Alison uses one of the firebombs on it but it has no effect. The robot hits Suzie with it’s laser and as she is on the ground, it shoots the can of gas she was carrying, engulfing her on fire. Hearing the girls’ screams, Ferdy, Greg, and Rick head towards them and when he sees Suzie’s body, Greg begins firing at the robot. As Ferdy leads Alison and Linda away, Greg and Rick lead the robot towards the elevator and when Rick tricks it into going inside, the others start shooting at the propane tanks on the roof of the elevator, causing them to explode and sending the elevator crashing to the floors below, destroying it and the robot. Hiding in the restaurant that Alison works at, Greg is upset about the other girls letting Suzie leave the air ducts but Rick manages to get him calmed down. Ferdy gets an idea on destroying the security computer in order to shut down the remaining robot and the others agree to try it. As they are heading to the third floor, Greg gets reckless and rushes ahead of the others but as he waits for them on the third floor, a robot appears behind him and throws him over the rail, where he falls to his death. As the 4 remaining friends run, they see the first robot that the guys thought they had killed is still alive and manage to make it inside another store. Resting for a minute, the try to figure out a plan for when the robots break in. Heading up to the third floor entrance of the store, they use mannequins to help confuse the robot that is there, then use a mirror to reflect it’s laser back on itself, causing it to short circuit and spin around shooting wildly. Linda is killed by an errant blast and seeing her die, Rick grabs a nearby security cart and crashes it into the robot, causing it to explode but electrocuting himself in the process. As Ferdy and Alison split up to look for the security room, Alison encounters the robot and starts screaming for Ferdy to help her. Ferdy shows up and manages to shoot out the robot’s laser and leads the robot away from her. When he runs out of bullets, he begins throwing whatever he can at the robot but the robot grabs the fire extinguisher he threw and throws it back at him, seemingly killing him. Alison runs and hides in a pet store, managing to keep quiet as the robot searches for her, in spite of some tarantulas and snakes crawling over her. When the robot leads, Alison heads back out to the mall but when it comes back, Alison climbs over the rail and tries to hang on but ends up falling, landing on a kiosk’s tent, which cushions her fall. Making her way towards a paint store, Alison begins pouring paint and paint thinner onto the floor, then lures the robot inside, where it is unable to get any traction on the floor, then uses the flare to start a fire and causing the store to explode, destroying the last robot. Stumbling away from the wreckage, Alison is happy to see that Ferdy had survived the robot’s attack and the two race towards each other and embrace.
This is probably one of my favorite B-horror movies from the 80’s because it is so cheesy to watch that it is incredibly entertaining. The acting was pretty good, with some decent dialogue as well as completely corny dialogue interspaced throughout the movie. The plot was decent although a bit unoriginal an as the whole lightning casuing a robot to break from it’s original programming has been done before. One thing I really liked was all the various references to other Wynorski and Corman films throughout the movie, from Ferdy and Alison watching Attack Of The Crab Monsters, to the various posters in some of the stores, to Dick Miller playing Walter Paisley, the name of a character he played in A Bucket Of Blood, an early Roger Corman movie. Considering the low budget, the special effects were pretty good, for an 80’s movie. It’s not one of those timeless classics that everyone will want to see but if you are in the mood for a horror movie with some cheesy 80’s fun, then you should watch this.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5