I know I’m not alone when it comes to loving the idea of being in a mall during the off hours, a situation that was first presented to me, and many others, by the original Dawn of the Dead movie. In fact, my craving for such a situation was so intense that I actually applied to work for a security company a few years ago even though I didn’t need the job, and went through the training process in hopes of being able to guard a mall after hours (I also wanted first hand knowledge of this for my novel Text Message, which had already been completed but needed a final polish -- coming soon to a bookshelf near you, hopefully). Unfortunately I never actually got to work in a mall and instead spent three days a week guarding a car in a small parking lot for about six months, and then was told that there were no positions available for me if I wanted to go back to college unless I wanted to work a thirty six hour weekend shift -- um, no -- and quit. In the end having not worked in an actual mall after hours was probably a good thing because the fantasy my mind had created around it would have gotten tarnished. I have a feeling the same would be true about living in a mall during a real apocalypse, fun to think about, but not really all that enjoyable as an everyday reality. Therefore I will continue to live such experiences through the eyes of film directors and authors, my latest after-hours mall adventure being the 1986 film Chopping Mall.
Chopping Mall is the story of eight teenagers who decide to throw a party in one of the large furniture stores of a mall, one which pretty much turns into a mini orgy as three of the four couples decide to give the display beds a try. While doing this the teenagers are unaware that the three new security robots that the mall has put in place have malfunctioned thanks to a few bolts of lightning that hit the supercomputer on top of the mall and now see all humans as a threat to the malls property. Having already dispatched the two computer operators and the janitor, the robots now set their laser sights on the eight teenagers, two of whom are killed pretty easily due to a cigarette craving. The rest, having witnessed one of their friends death (a nice little laser shot that blows the girls head apart), flea, but then try to make a stand after arming themselves at the malls local gun store -- something you won’t find these days in a mall. The question is, are the humans any match for the three heavily armed and armored robots, or will they just end up another mess for the janitors to clean up in the morning, that is, if the robots decide to open the place on time and stand down from their relentless guard duties once the sun rises.
While cheesy and predictable, Chopping Mall is fun little flick that is prefect for late night TV, one which takes two popular themes from the eighties -- teenage sexual deviance equals violent death, and don’t replace human thought and decision making with mindless technologically advanced machines -- and combines them into a fast paced horror film. Like I said, though, it is cheesy and predictable so please don’t expect too much from it because that might lead to disappointment. Instead, take it for what is: a simple teen slasher film that tried to capitalize on the popular horror genera, one which fell far short of the real eighties classics, yet still is a fun film to watch, especially if used as filler between two of that eras greats. So, if you are looking for a nice little eighties flick for some sort of marathon, or are in need of a ‘stranded in a mall fix’ but have grown tired of the really popular films, then give this one a try, though only if you can get a good deal on it because it is most certainly not something you want to sink a few hours of hard earn pay into.
Interesting Moment: Has anyone else noticed that during the scene where the janitor is killed there seems to be people walking around on the floors above. It kind of make me wonder if the mall stayed open during filming and they didn’t realize that floor was visible to the camera.
NOTE: I should also point out that the cover is a bit deceiving and that there isn’t really any chopping going on in this movie, so for those of you expecting a lot of gore, this probably isn’t for you. It does, however, have some nice booby scenes for those of you who haven’t discovered the one or two internet sites that feature such content.