If you searched the dictionary for "80's time capsule", you wouldn't find anything. But if you did, then an image of the poster from 1986's Chopping Mall should accompany it. In the pantheon of film making, there may not exist a better example of a title making or breaking box office success. Originally entitled Killbots, this filmcomes from the mind of director Jim Wynorski (who received some TLC in Shock-O-Rama a few weeks back). Produced by Julie Corman, wife of Roger, Killbots was short circuited at the box office. It was withdrawn after it's initial run and rebranded as the now familiar Chopping Mall. Adopting classic 80's exploitation poster doctrine, nothing showcased in the teaser art comes from the film itself. A demonic Sauron gauntlet, which ends in exposed pseudo robotic wiring, clutches a tattered shopping bag, whose holes allow us previews of the gorey mess promised in the title. None of these things are present in the flick, but the good news is this: if you're the manner of mammal who would have appreciated that fictitious poster fabricated film, odds are amazing that'll love what actually is here. Let's do the math.
The proud owner of the Park Place shopping mall (the real life Sherman Oaks Galleria, used in many films including: Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Night of the Comet and Commando), have just complete installation of three high tech security bots. These automatons are designed to non-lethally detain would be thieves until police can apprehend them. Nothing on Earth would allow these marvels of modern engineering to kill a suspect, a skeptical crowd is assured. Lightning, originating above the Earth, doesn't count, by his estimation. We'll have to turn that one over to the lawyers. Meanwhile, back inside the mall, eight teenagers have stayed behind after closing, with plans to drink and fornicate in the furniture store (brilliant!). You might find that to be an overly large number of victims characters, thinking that five or six is plenty. I'm here to assure you that eight is enough...to showcase the awesome lethality of the rampaging Killbots.
Our newly minted robot overlords begin their reign of terror by killing their technicians, removing the collar keeping them restrained. Then they turn their Cylon-esk sites on hapless janitor Walter Paisley (Dick Miller, somehow playing the same character he did in 1959's A Bucket of Blood!), before zeroing in on the bouncing butt of one of our unlucky teens. After recalibrating it's aim off of her apparently laser resistant ass, Killbot #1 splatters her mellon all over the furniture storefront. Our remaining contestants instantly realize that they have a problem, and flee for their lives. The men make a b-line for the gun store, harkening back to that gilded age when automatic weapons could be purchased via retailers at the mall, while the ladies flee into the ventilation system.
Like a game of Tafl, the teens manage to disable the kill bots in the end, but not without severe casualties to their side. All told, only two of the meat popsicles survive to reach the end credits. In keeping with the standard operating procedure of 80's thrill-kill slasher flicks, our surviving couple where the geeky pair, who obstained from drinking and screwing, opting instead to watch an old black and white Sci-Fi movie on TV. That movie? Roger Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) staring Russell Johnson ("The Professor" on Gilligan's Island). Which lends credibility to the safety of celibate, basement dwelling nerds in a horror-verse situations (even if that celibacy is not self inflicted)!
This is yet another in a long line of films that I suggest you gather your movie crew together for; it's far more enjoyable as a group thing. It's available as a stand alone DVD release from 2004, which includes an illuminating director's commentary, or as part of eight film collection with the following movies: Waxwork, 976-EVIL 2, Ghoulies 3, The Unholy, C.H.U.D. II, Slaughter High, and Class of 1999. Break open this time capsule of retro, big haired goodness, and don't forget to let me know if you loved or hated it. See you at the movies!
Saturday Shock-O-Rama Streaming Suggestions
Want to watch something schlocky right now? Try on a few of these suggestions, available right now from the listed service (most of which are FREE!).
Netflix - Werewolf of London - Horror(1935)
Hulu - Equinox - Horror (1970)
YouTube - Zombie Island Massacre - Horror (1984)
And if you simply can't get enough horror happenings here on Mania, might I humbly suggest checking out Tuesday Terrors? It's got all the shocking news to keep you current (and possibly help you survive until the credits roll).
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