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With an iconic setting oozing 80s nostalgic charm, a cool concept, and some rad kills, “Chopping Mall” is a wildly fun cult classic gem.

With all-out nudity, gnarly deaths, laser beams, and awkwardness between dialog, it’s enough to make anyone think this is a low-budget horror to overlook. But alas, you’d be so wrong. Blurred between those lines is a charming underdog of a horror that you can stick on anytime and really bliss in the fun Chopping Mall is.

When I first watched this film many years ago, I pinned it in the back of my mind as forgettable. However, I’m putting that down to being young; growing up in the age of gore means more. Upon a rewatch many years later, I was surprised to prove myself wrong as this is far from being any sort of forgettable.

Directed by Jim Wynorski and produced by Julie Corman, the story was written in 24 hours, and a script was present in a few weeks. Originally called Killbots, with a terrible poster to go with the title upon the film’s theatrical release, it totally bombed.

To make some money back, they took the film out of cinemas and changed it into what we know and love today, Chopping Mall.

With completely new branding, it was further edited down by 19 minutes and totally reworked. It was game on and back out in theaters, with only slight audience improvements.

One of this film’s downfalls was being put out at the wrong time.

With films like Robocop, Short Circuit, and Terminator capturing the cultural zeitgeist, it was hard to compete in this robot craze. With Chopping Mall not getting any sort of marketing push, it got lost.

Flash forward to its re-release in 2012, and the film started to amass a cult following. Convention appearances and subsequent Blu-ray releases solidified this 80s horror gem as a certifiable cult classic.

Our story opens up with a video demonstration of state-of-the-art mall security robots. During the video, we get to see these humble bots in action, doing their best to protect this mall and bring all sorts of justice.

We then get to meet some of our main cast, primarily four sets of couples. They’re all headed to a furniture store in the mall just before the doors lock so they can party all night.

Unfortunately, lighting strikes the security tower, hitting the computer system and turning our not-so-threatening security bots into outright killer robots.

This leaves our cast of young lovers trying to survive till 6 am when the doors open again, and they can escape.

I would like to highlight our two main characters, co-workers at the mall’s pizzeria, Suzie Lynn and Alison.

They are played by a couple of horror icons: Suzie by the legendary Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond, Suitable Flesh) and Alison by Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet, Scare Package II).

The women are total opposites. Suzie seems like your typical pretty and popular girl, while Allison is quieter, nerdier, and more relatable. The parallel is between Suzie Lynn, who, when the horror really kicks in, is constantly in a state of panic, and Allison, who remains in total calmness in this situation.

Suzie cries and screams herself into a situation.

Viewers can’t help but yell at the TV, watching her crumble under pressure, accepting her horrific fate, even though she could have easily gotten away.

Our final girl, Alison, is a total underdog. By the end of this film, the character really shines through. Apart from some bad ideas, such as agreeing to split up, she really holds this small group together. She remains calm, collected, and smart under pressure, with quick shooting skills and creative ideas on how to take on the destructive mall robots.

Even after witnessing some horrifying deaths and being shot at herself, she’s a trooper and remains focused on her one goal of survival.

She really is the total package you look for in a final girl.

With a short runtime, I really think it’s worth giving Chopping Mall some of your time.

You’ll laugh, and you’ll see some awesome special effects. Fire is used a lot to cool effect, and you get to see some gnarly shots of heads blowing up that still hold up today.

It is one of the first films that comes to mind when I think of the best of the worst in horror with a low budget. They really did the best with what they could, which works out in the film’s favor, adding some hard-to-resist charm.

Chopping Mall is one of the most 80s-feeling movies out there that offers one hell of an unforgettable nostalgia trip — watch it and “have a nice day.”

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