31 Days of Horror 2016, Day 5: Chopping Mall (1986)

The truth is, I have very little to say about this movie. It’s a cult favorite and I’ve heard a number of people claim that it’s a “must see bad movie,” but I just can’t say that I agree. After the opening promotional video, boasting a Killbot taking down a jewelry theif, it was all downhill.

It’s not as if I hated Chopping Mall. The premise has so-good-it’s-bad promise, and the robots exhibit some fine retro futurism. They remind me a little bit of those robot pets that were cool in the late ninties, only with tank tracks on the bottom, and a strangely innocent sense of bloodlust. Additionally, Chopping Mall does have one of the best stereotypical asshole characters I’ve ever seen; a dude who chews gum in every scene, right up until he’s murdered by one of the three Protector 101 robots that are roaming the mall. There’s also some gratuitous nudity, which is sort of the Hallmark of cheap horror.

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Ultimately though, I found myself laughing very little at this movie. Even when Dick Miller appeared as the janitor, and suffered what has to be the lamest electrocution on film. There were several absurd shoot out scenes with the robots, culminating in a twist where the sweet girl of the gang turns out to be the best shot, and the hero. But, I could never get a grip on those scenes either. Maybe I was just in the wrong frame of mind, or maybe I watched it too soon after a movie I really liked (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), but I could not figure out if this movie was taking itself seriously or not. Some of the scenes seemed very tongue in cheek. For example, when the gum chewer first encounters one of the robots he says “klaatu barada nikto, OK” clearly referencing The Day the Earth Stood Still. At the same time, some of the scenes felt like they weren’t intentionally stupid, like when the Barbara Crampton loses her cool in the air ducts, or when the guys blow up a security bot using a small propane tank, and then celebrate like a bunch of bros.

As far as I’m concerned, the best thing about this movie is the poster.

Challenge fulfilled: A movie starring Barbara Crampton

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