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Monday, November 14, 2011

Chopping Mall Aka Killbots (1986)

If you have any brain whatsoever you (like me) suffer from enjoy a particular disgust of the standard American shopping mall. Let's face it- they're loud, shiny, and full of people I don't like the overly perfumed scent of. On top of that there is lots of bullshit I do not want. This movie will make you feel better about all that I guarantee it. I haven't lied to you yet and I don't plan on it anytime soon. Jim Wynorski wasn't fucking around when he made this, just like when he made Deathstalker II (Yeah that's right, I've been doing this just long enough to be able to refer you back to older posts you might have missed! Go ahead, read this then click the link for DS2 to see that I'm a bona-fide Wynorski super fan).

Trailer time, jerks:

This trailer is interesting to nerds like myself for a number of reasons. First off: they do NOT break into the damn mall, they work there and stay after hours- but to be fair saying that in the trailer would be boring. Horror movie viewing teens want danger and excitement (and a little T&A of course) not sneaky real life style shenanigans. Lucky for you the second point onwards is resoundingly positive: The trailer is interesting for featuring footage not in the finished film. The clips appear to have been shot specifically for the trailer as they are filmed and lit rather differently from the rest of the movie, and also feature totally different robot claws from what wound up on the finished props. I like it when these sort of things happen, as it gives us an insight into production development and marketing of an otherwise obscure movie.

Sorry for the diversion from my normally formulaic blog setup, but I thought these tidbits were worth mentioning now rather than later. Now it's time for the plot synopsis okay? Plot synopsis: Park Plaza Mall has just received a super badass force of high tech security robots (and giant two piece sliding future doors too keep people out, which begs the question of why robots are needed if you have doors from an Imperial Star Destroyer blockading all entrances and exits to your mall) to keep it free and clear of dangerous mall robbers. A group of teenage buddies who all work at the mall (who are perfectly paired up as jock/bimbo, yuppies, and lovable nerds) are staying after hours to have a party fueled by pizza and sex. Unfortunately for them, an unseasonably huge lightning storm strikes the giant security computer conveniently located on the roof nowhere near a lightning rod turning the supposedly orderly and procedural robots into terrifying killing machines. WHO WILL SURVIVE!?

Lots of folks just dimiss this as cheap-o slasher fare. It kinda is yeah, but the slasher in this movie is not a dude or a ghost, but a team of bloodthirsty robots! Seriously how can someone not find that entertaining? One of the more amusing bits is the ludicrous heavy arsenal these security robots have. Everything from stun electrodes (makes sense), to lasers (makes no sense), and even plastic explosives (makes even less sense)! I'm pretty sure such things as these are only placed on the robot for the security of the audiences entertainment but I'm not complaining, because it worked. I find the choice of filming location- the super famous Sherman Oaks Galleria, THE California shopping mall of the 1980's- also adds to the entertainment too. Seeing teens get their necks slashed, heads exploded, or get set ablaze in a huge/ugly/iconic mall sounds like a fun time to me. Oh yeah- there's also a brief cameo by Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov as their characters from Eating Raoul!


Need I say more?

This film was originally released under the title of "Killbots". The poster for this version stunk, it made the movie look like some sort of Transformers ripoff cartoon, so needless to say it did not perform very well. Here's where I get confused though, so don't take the next sentence as fact okay? Some sources state that after the theatrical run didn't work out it was cut by 15 minutes and rereleased as Chopping Mall. Like I said I can't find much to back the fifteen minutes cut claim. I almost feel like it was only given a very limited release, or even a preview release, under this title in the US. I am also confused about whether or not it was theatrically rereleased as Chopping Mall or if this was just the video title, as I have seen what are clearly theatrical one sheet posters for this film.

See here:

I know this poster above is not a vhs release poster (because I own one, duh). Though the artwork is similar to the vhs boxart, it is far more detailed. Plus it has a cool and dangerous looking biomechanoid arm grasping the shopping bag. I don't know how wide the release must have been, all I know is this is a Chopping Mall one sheet. Compare it with the vhs box at the start of this review, or with this photo of my recently acquired original vhs release poster for when it came out on Lightning Video in 1987:

(sorry about the lens glare, it's the best I could do)

See what I mean? Also note the different tag lines. It's not often that horror movies have such a mire of facts to wade through. Sure they may come off as mundane to the rest of the adult population, but I'm not writing this for them am I? If I were (slightly) more resourceful and had a way to get a hold of Mr. Wynorski I guarantee you that the first thing I'd ask him about would be Killbots. Thanks to astute collectors we know that the Mexican release was subtitled as Killbots. Have a look at an image of one of the lobby cards for said release I snagged off the internet:

The lame poster I mentioned earlier is pictured on the left. Sorry I can't get you a better image than that, but if I stretch it any bigger it will get really pixelated and will mess up my blog format. I also found while digging around an image of the Vestron International vhs release used in Belgium/ The Netherlands. This one is interesting for having the art for Chopping Mall but with it's original title. Things get weirder the deeper you go!


Like any good snake oil salesman, I can say that that's not all! I also found what appears to be a Japanese DVD release utilizing the Killbots monicker. Again I apologize for image quality, but I have to purloin a lot of this stuff off of google image search, so forgive me everyone (including the folks who's images I took!).


Either way, this film has a rather amazing variety of posters, marketing materials, and home video releases. I'm quite pleased to say that it has far more than I ever expected it to. This film had quite a long reach for what some people regard as a "B grade slasher" don't you think? Oh, I should also plug the soundtrack release too, I know I did it in the Deathstalker II review, but I want to flip the booklet around so you can see the alternate cover art. It's a good release, and affordable too! I highly recommend buying it off the site, as they are responsible for its release and also have a non inflated price on it like some ebay sellers try to. There's a few older bootleg recordings that have been floating around the internet for a few years, but this one is official and of really good quality.

Gaze upon its majesty below:

You probably didn't think I have this much to say about Chopping Mall did you? The world is indeed full of surprises.


1 comment:

  1. We must find a way for you to talk to Jim Wynorski! I'd love to find out more about his films and I think you're the guy to do it!