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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 is an American science fiction horror film produced by Julie Corman and originally released on March 21, 1986 under the title Killbots. 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.
Upon release, the movie did poorly at the box office, however it did better when it was re-released as Chopping Mall. The film is based around killer security robots taking over a shopping mall and murdering teenage employees.
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.
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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 (using tasers and tranquilliser guns) and apprehend would-be thieves. Four couples—married pair 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. They all stay after hours at the mall, drinking, partying, and eventually three of the couples have sex in the furniture store beds, while the fourth couple, Alison and Ferdy, who were introduced by Greg and Suzie, watch old science fiction films on TV.
Outside, a lightning storm strikes the mall several times and damages the computer controlling the security robots, which kill their technicians and a janitor before going on regular patrol in the now-empty mall. Two of the teens (Mike and Leslie) leave the furniture store to buy cigarettes and are subsequently killed by the robots, now the "killbots" of the movie's original title. The surviving teens witness the killbots kill Leslie, and the men and women are forced to separate, the men into the mall and the women into the air ducts, when the killbots begin their attack.
The men break into a sporting goods store ("Peckinpah's") to arm themselves with guns, whilst the girls take gas and flares from an automotive store after Suzie has a panic attack and leaves the air ducts to help Greg, with Allison and Linda following her, not wanting to leave her in the mall alone. Utilizing a propane tank, Rick, Greg, and Ferdy blow up and appear to destroy one of the killbots (though it later recovers). Rick, Greg and Ferdy then rig the mall elevator with a booby trap. A second killbot ambushes the women while the men finish rigging the elevator, and Suzie's screams alert the men that the women are in trouble. They rush to help but are too late. Suzie is killed as the killbot utilizes its laser, setting fire to her gas can and setting her aflame, while Greg watches in horror. He tries unsuccessfully to shoot the killbot before Rick drags him away.
The teens, now regrouped, are able to destroy a killbot by luring it into the booby-trapped elevator. They then hide out in the restaurant where Allison works. Greg confronts Allison and Linda about leaving the air ducts, which led to Suzie's death. Greg also exhibits signs that he's beginning to crack. The girls try to explain, but Greg has difficulty accepting their explanation, going so far as to pull 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 main control centre for the killbots, thinking that it will shut them down. Greg and the others support the idea. They begin to make their way to level 3 of the mall where the killbots's control centre is located.
Greg, continuing to behave recklessly over Suzie and despite the others trying to get him under control, gets too far ahead of them and is killed when one of the remaining killbots ambushes him and throws him over the balcony, where he falls to his death three floors below. While on the run, the remaining teens see the killbot that was believed to be destroyed and realize there are still two left to deal with. The final four—Allison, Ferdy, Rick, and Linda—take refuge in a department store as the remaining two killbots work to gain access.
Hearing one of the killbots gain entrance in the store's lower level, the group sets up store dummies and mirrors in an attempt to confuse the killbot waiting outside the upper-level door, then open it up. The plan works: when the killbot starts firing at the dummies, one of its lasers reflects back off of a mirror, hitting the killbot and setting it firing blindly. Linda is killed when one of the lasers hits her, and Rick, enraged, drives a store golfcart into the killbot, firing wildly. He is electrocuted by a bolt of electricity, but his actions finally destroy the second killbot completely. Their deaths leave Alison and Ferdy as the only two survivors to search for the control centre in the storage areas of the mall. The third and final killbot corners Alison, who is rescued when Ferdy shoots it point blank, damaging its laser and setting himself up as a target instead: the killbot strikes and appears to kill him as Alison escapes.
Alison falls to the lower mall, injuring her leg, and sets another trap for the killbot in a paint store by mixing paint and chemicals from the shelves. She goads the killbot into the store where it becomes stuck, its tracks unable to find traction on the spilled paint and thinners, and throws the flare into the store where the volatile chemicals explode, destroying the final killbot. As she leaves the store, she hears Ferdy call her from the upper mall, revealing that he is still alive. The film ends with Alison and Ferdy together as the mall is now at daytime, showing that Alison and Ferdy survived the night massacre.
- 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.