“I know. I guess I’m just not used to running around a mall in the middle of the night being chased by killer robots.”

That line of dialogue (said with a straight face no less), sums up 1986’s Chopping Mall very neatly – at times a thrilling, hilarious (both intentionally and unintentionally)and cheesy offering that just happens to be hellaciously entertaining.

I had a great time watching this, even more so when you consider Jim Wynorski’s flick also contains a total doozy of an exploding head sight gag.

With a running time of just 76 minutes, Wynorski doesn’t bother himself with anything like background detail or character development, instead throwing us headlong into the action.220px-Choppingmall

A shopping mall elects to introduce a trio of security guard robots to patrol its corridors and levels after hours.

These robots can read ID badges, communicate and, conveniently enough, also house an array of weapons to take down any intruders.

That all seems fine and dandy, but after a lightning strike hits the mall and explodes a control panel, these same robots go haywire and decide to wipe out everything in their path – intruder or not.

We then cut to our bevy of humans, who, despite appearing to be young adults and working in various department stores, seem to be just the same gaggle of sex-starved idiots that crop up in films of this ilk.

Naturally there are a couple who are more chaste (and who survive to the final showdown – surprise, surprise), but the majority just cannot wait to get their kit off – and indeed do when the eight gather for a post-work party at a furniture store.

Their carnal pleasure doesn’t last for too long though, as soon the robots are on their trail, leading to a desperate race through the floors as the dwindling number of humans look to survive.

It’s all pretty breathless stuff, produced with so much energy that you just can’t help but be pulled along.

The robots themselves are an enjoyable creation – a mix of the machines from Short Circuit, Wall-E and something that dropped out of Robot Wars.

Trundling around on tank tracks they also have a touch of the daleks about them in that you would think it easy to escape by simply running up stairs, but director Wynorski moves things along at such a pace you rarely have time to argue with what is going on before you.

I must admit, I did also enjoy the robots’ knack of announcing ‘Thank you – have a nice day’ after incinerating some poor sap.

This film is clearly aimed at giving horror fans (and cinema fans in general) a good time – we get genre legend Dick Miller turning up for a brief ‘robot fodder’ cameo as a disgruntled janitor, Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov pop up as a tiresome couple early on (lifted straight from their appearance in Eating Raoul), while the mall’s gun store is called Peckinpah’s – and so on.

The Karate Kid’s Tony O’Dell and Night Of The Comet star Kelli Maroney take the lead roles, but there is also space for Reanimator babe Barbra Crampton to take her clothes off – which she does of course.

Having poked around on the internet, there appears to be a 99-minute version of this lingering around somewhere, and the trailer does indeed show a number of sequences and lines of dialogue that are not in the cut I saw.

But that matters little in a flick that is almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Wynorski was hardly to reach major heights as a director – 976-Evil II or Ghoulies IV anyone?

But with Chopping Mall he got things absolutely spot on and if this has eluded you so far, then I suggest you put that right by checking it out.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.