Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jim Wynorski|
|Produced by||Julie Corman|
|Written by||Jim Wynorski
|Music by||Chuck Cirino|
|Edited by||Leslie Rosenthal|
|Distributed by||Concorde Pictures|
95 min (original release)
Chopping Mall (originally and also known as Killbots) is a 1986 American science fiction horror film directed by Jim Wynorski and produced by Julie Corman. Starring Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, John Terlesky, and Russell Todd, the plot focuses on three security robots turned rogue and killing teenage employees inside a shopping mall after dark.
While not commercial or critical success, the film has gained a cult following over the years.
Park Plaza Mall has just installed a state-of-the-art security system which includes security shutters across all exits and three high-tech security robots programmed to disable and apprehend thieves using tasers and tranquilliser guns. Four couples consisted of Rick and Linda, Greg and Suzie, Mike and Leslie, and Ferdy and Allison decide to have a party in one of the furniture stores where three of them work. After hours, all of them (with the exception of Alison and Ferdy) begin to have sex, drink, and party inside the furniture store.
Outside, a lightning storm strikes the mall several times and damages the computer controlling the security robots, resulting in them killing their technicians and a janitor before going on regular patrol in the now-empty mall. Mike and Leslie leave the furniture store and are killed outside by the robots, and the others begin to separate after witnessing this. The men break into a sporting store to arm themselves with firearms, whilst the girls take gasoline and flares from an automotive store. Utilizing a propane tank, the men blow up and seemingly destroy one of the robots. While the men set up the mall elevator as a booby trap, the robots ambush the girls and manage to ignite Suize via shooting her gasoline canister, killing her. Greg sees this, and unsuccessfully tries to shoot the robot before Rick drags him away.
The teenagers, now regrouped, rig the elevator trap on the second robot, destroying it. They then hide out in the restaurant where Allison works. Inside, Greg confronts Allison and Linda about leaving the air ducts and soon exhibits rage due to Suzie's death, going far as pulling his gun on Ferdy when he intercedes on Allison's and Linda's behalf. Rick manages to calm him down, and Ferdy suggests destroying the robot's main control centre in hopes that it would shut them down. As the group agrees on this, they head to the control center located on the mall's third floor. Greg is soon killed by the remaining robots by being tossed over the railing and falling to his death three floors below. While on the run, they also find the first robot recovered after its earlier defeat.
The four remaining survivors, Allison, Ferdy, Rick, and Linda, take refuge inside a department store. They set up mannequins in an attempt to confuse the robots outside the upper-level floor, which works when the machines fire at the dummies and one of them is blinded from its own reflected laser. Linda is killed by the blinded robot and an enraged Rick drives a golf cart into the robot; he is killed by a bolt of electricity, but his actions successfully destroy the machine. As the final robot corners Alison, Ferdy rescues her and shoots it at point blank, damaging its laser just before he is rendered unconscious. Despite an injured leg, Alison escapes into the paint store, and sets up a trap mixing paint and chemicals. She lures the robot inside where it becomes stuck from its tracks unable to find traction on the spilled paint and thinners, and tosses a flare into the store, igniting the chemicals and ultimately destroying the final robot. As she leaves the store, Ferdy awakens from the upper mall and the two are the final survivors as daylight appears in the mall. In a post-credit scene, a robot rolls up to the camera and says "Thank you, have a nice day."
- Kelli Maroney as Alison Parks
- Tony O'Dell as Ferdy Meisel
- Russell Todd as Rick Stanton
- Karrie Emerson as Linda Stanton
- Barbara Crampton as Suzie Lynn
- Nick Segal as Greg Williams
- John Terlesky as Mike Brennan
- Suzee Slater as Leslie Todd
- Paul Bartel as Paul Bland
- Angela Aames as Miss Vanders
- Mary Woronov as Mary Bland
- Dick Miller as Walter Paisley
Julie Corman wanted to make a film about a killer in a mall, and Jim Wynorski agreed to write one cheaply if he could direct. Wynorski said he was inspired by the 1954 film Gog; he claims he never saw the 1973 TV movie Trapped, which some believe inspired Chopping Mall.
Jim Wynorski directed the movie and wrote it with Steve Mitchell. It was filmed mostly at Sherman Oaks Galleria, with occasional set shots (e.g., the paint store). The movie starred Kelli Maroney (who appeared in Night of the Comet and the daytime soap opera Ryan's Hope) and Tony O'Dell (from the TV series Head of the Class). Roger Corman and his wife Julie produced it. Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov share a cameo as their characters from Eating Raoul, Paul and Mary Bland. Chopping Mall also acts as a debut film for Rodney Eastman, who later went on to star in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master.
There are at least two different versions of the movie. The TV cut has some extra footage, such as a small homage to Attack of the Crab Monsters, extended scenes of Ferdy and Allison watching TV, some aerial shots, and an extension of one of the Ferdy/Allison scenes. This is one of those rare times when the TV edit has more than a few extra seconds of footage over the theatrical version, but no official source offers this version.
On the DVD commentary tracks, Wynorski and Mitchell discussed many details of making the film, including an injury that the director suffered while helping prepare a stunt sequence, their unfriendly relationship with the Galleria's security chief (and friendly one with the mall's owner), the many beautiful women who were part of the cast, and ways that they dealt with having little time or money and finished their work on time.
Concorde Pictures released the film in limited theaters on March 21, 1986. Upon initial release as Killbots, the movie did poorly at the box office; however it did better when it was re-released as Chopping Mall.
The film was released on VHS in the U.S. by the Vestron sub-label Lightning Video in 1986. Lionsgate released the film twice on DVD: once in 2004 (with special features including a featurette, commentary, still gallery and trailer) and in 2012 as part of an 8-horror film DVD set. It was released for the first time on Blu-ray on September 27, 2016 as part of Lionsgate's new Vestron Video Collector's Series line.
- Chris Nashawaty, Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses - Roger Corman: King of the B Movie, Abrams, 2013 p 196
- Allmovie - Chopping Mall - Overview