“WHERE SHOPPING COSTS YOU AN ARM AND A LEG!”[+ YOUR HEAD!]
From the director of “The Devil Wears Nada”, “The Hills Have Thighs”, “The House of Hooter Hill” or “The Witches of Breastwick” comes for y’all a horror mall sci-fi movie you’ve been all wet-dreaming about. Chopping Mall is every bit of a grindhouse mall cult classic, one of those so-bad-it’s-craptastic. Director Jim Winorsky worked under the able lurid eye& dirty hand of B-movie maestro Roger Corman and he’s better known for his soft-core porn with a pinch of horror.
Chopping Mall is a movie featuring a toy-grade puny kind of killer robot (not the Terminator stainless steel frame, nor the Robocop biomecha chrome, not even the Box the Logan’s Run harvester robot). Maybe closer to Silent Running (1972) gardener drones or even (do you remember it on the Bulgarian TV?!) Hanna-Barbera Productions “Benji, Sax and the Alien Prince” TV series (1983). The robotic voices of the killbots were recorded by Jim Winorsky himself, and they include a customer-is-always-right one-liner, each time they zap, explode, maim some witless humanz: “Thank You, Have A Nice Day!”. SecureTronics Unlimited has provided a new line of automatic defense against intruders, terrorists and criminals of all kinds – THE PROTECTOR 101 series robots first to be tested inside that all-time-favorite of consumption: the Mall. Each of the three robots is assigned to a different level of the PARK PLAZA 2000 shopping mall (the movie was mostly filmed at the Sherman Oaks Galleria mall and business center located in LA) and each is not giving up without killing most of the screaming scantly naked ladies.
As in The Lift movie – a small glitch, on a stormy night thunder strike upsurge has messed up the programming (or stepped it up and made it more effective), so that the usual safety measures – electronic access card and face recognition don’t work anymore. The distinction btw the employees and the enemies (unauthorized personnel) brakes down. Imagine nudity, bikinis and horny (not so young actually) youngsters being caught literally with the pants off by a bunch of murderous patrolling bots inside a closed mall ready to punish their minor misdemeanor, laser tag their asses and explode their pervert heads. Actually these are some of the best head-explosion scenes on record.
Really, it’s entertainment for the whole family, you have literally zero.zero fear-factor, even if there is a few splatter scenes in-between, everything is over the top, completely ridiculous and full of funny moments and lines (another one: “Let’s send those bastards a Rambo-gram!”). Still, maybe this is the best trick of the movie, to employ not immediately dangerous-looking humanoid robots but their toy versions patrolling the consumer universe and ready to transform it into a slaughterhouse. It is an era where consumer action toys such as The Master of the Universe He-Man and Skeletor (themselves based on the Star Wars toyline) preceded the actual movie franchise and started influencing producers and directors. Action toys pushed their own movies (Master of the Universe – Golan-Globus production, 1987) no matter how toy-like or craplastic-fantastic they were. It is the toy characters who make the movie, employ the actors – reversing the whole process were the movie came first and the merchandise after. Action toys were becoming the real models that were reorienting the whole market and the entire Hollywoodian dream-engine. It is also a fact that malls in general have somehow fused with the remains of the cinema-era in the shape of the Multiplex and the I-max, engulfing the only pre-Netflix outlets of the Hollywood era.
I love Chopping Mall because it is such a period piece that starts from the Mall as a given – a late modern nostalgia piece, the spot were lovers date, were old couples kiss, the place were the Arcades started the gaming revolution, with adults kicking out kids to play the games themselves, its the times when beauty pageants ran along the automatic staircase. Just imagine!
This B movie builds on the fact that malls have also a nightlife of their own. They are closing their doors but life goes on, sexual (or not) fantasies still go on somewhere inside. In fact the party organized by those horny youngsters is taking place in this no-place – in the furniture departments with all that available goods that stay there on pure display as if awaiting some softporn home video action.
I like the fact that there is some intercourse btw experimental videos and performances by Lola Göller and Lili Kuschel (‘Weiche spalten hart gebumst’ video – thx Sara!) featuring a funny over-the-top couch-porn testing of the various sofas and the Chopping Mall sex stand-in that switches into robotic overkill.
The Mall is the preeminent place for all those showroom dummies relationships – the place were you can look but you can’t touch. Once that barrier is been trespassed, the punishment might be bizarre, exaggerated, out-of-propotion. Actually what would be a proper punishment (getting fined? getting banned? getting obliged to carry home barefooted all your full shopping bags?), all those punishments are still a blessing somehow. Eventually, the mall builds up into this completely automatic environment were subroutines take care of themselves, were late night shift workers (remember the fab Corman actor from his beat generation sploitation For A Bucket of Blood 1959?) get quickly eliminated and where one really has the most dangerous janitor job on earth.