Movie Review: Chopping Mall (1986)

Synopsis: A group of young shopping mall employees decided to throw an after-hours party in one of the stores, not knowing three high-tech security robots have malfunctioned and started a killing spree. Unable to escape because of the mall's exits being locked down, the group must find a way to survive the night.

Who's in it? The film stars Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, Russell Todd, Karrie Emerson and Barbara Crampton.

Review: My wife and I were in the mood for a classic slasher movie yesterday evening and, unable to find one we hadn't seen before, I wound up picking out this movie instead. I honestly had lowered expectations about this film and was half expecting to turn it off after a few minutes. However, it turned out to be a pretty decent film.

The killer robot premise ended up being surprisingly good, mostly because the machines had a variety of ways to slay their victims. This made some of the scenes a little less predictable because you didn't know if the victim would be shot down with a laser, electrocuted, or have their throat ripped out by a robotic arm. The fact they were nearly indestructible also made the scenes a lot more intense.

Also, unlike many movies from this genre, it didn't take too long to get to the action. There was a little bit of an introduction and, of course, the standard gratuitous nudity but nothing that bogged down the main plot.

Another thing I liked about this movie was the way the group of friends made an effort to fight back. OK, to be fair, they probably would have been better off hiding or trying to escape through the ventilation system but, for movie purposes, strong victims always are more fun to watch than victims that just scream, cry, and/or run because they make the bad guys seem even stronger. 

Of course, the fact they also were in the one mall that sold everything from propane tanks to assault rifles and the most flammable cans of paint ever, made their decision to fight a little easier. Man, I miss the 80s.

My biggest complaint about the movie was the ending. This film desperately needed some sort of surprise twist, whether it was a fourth robot nobody knew about, one of the robots not being destroyed as they had thought or some other bad guy that was behind the whole thing. 

As it stood, the ending wound up being a little too much on the upbeat side with the survivors smiling and being quick with a joke despite seeing their friends get brutally killed. Not to mention, they were still locked in a mall that had multiple active fires. In other words, the character reactions at the end didn't quite fit the overall tone of the film.

Final Opinion: The ending could have used some work but this turned out to be a decent and entertaining movie overall and I'm glad we watched it.

My Grade: B

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