Chopping Mall (1986)

All you need to know

All you need to know

Chopping Mall appeared during the home video boom of the mid-80s, and I have fond memories of this movie and lots of its contemporaries. All those articles in Fangoria and Starburst were suddenly given life by the availability of the movies in your own home, and drinking several pints of beer before watching didn’t do the movies any harm either.

Well at the risk of sounding like a country song, some things are better as a memory. It’s painful to see not only how much the presentation of movies has improved technically, but just how badly put together  the stories were, how clumsy the dialogue was and how the audience was patronised by the over-eager acceptance of these low standards.

Chopping Mall is a prime example of all of these things. The cast includes assorted genre favourites like Dick Miller, Barbara Crampton, Paul Bartel and Kelli Maroney, who put in a variety of bad performances with no sign of  commitment or effort, but presumably are there to confer some sort of credibility on this movie solely by their presence. The movie takes a similar stance on plot, ticking all the required boxes – high-tech which now looks laughable, occasional topless shots, cheap synth music and unsubtle references to much better movies in the names of characters and shops.

The story involves some annoying yuppies, nerds and bimbos who end up trapped overnight in a mall, and find themselves pursued by a handful of unconvincing homicidal robots. This sounds like fun, but due to the sloppiness of the execution, the one memorable moment is that old 80’s staple the exploding head, and while it’s not bad for a zero budget movie, it’s hardly  a rival to Scanners or Dawn of the Dead. And the other welcome thing is the mercifully short running time of 77 minutes.



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