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Chopping Mall (1986) -

    Photo credit: Halloween Year-Round

by Bone Jawnson

This past weekend, I viewed the gloriously 80s techno-horror movie "Chopping Mall" (1986). Originally, I was scheduled to view "Bad Biology" (2008) by Frank Henenlotter but was having issues streaming it. As I was searching on Tubi TV, which is a free streaming app available through the Roku TV platform, I stumbled across "Chopping Mall." As I read the description, I was immediately sold. A mall that goes into auto-lockdown at night, malfunctioning security robots, and teenagers having a party with no way to escape—what else could I ask for?

After doing some research prior to watching the film, I discovered that "Chopping Mall" was originally released under the title "Killbots" but did not perform well with audiences. The film was re-cut and retitled to gear it more towards an adult audience that may enjoy horror films. With an estimated budget of around $800,000, I was very impressed with how much technology and action the film was able to fit into it. The "killbots," which are security robots turned killing machines, were very stable and uniform. I also appreciated how fast-paced the film was. It felt like it wasn't trying to be anything it wasn't. There were no overly complicated storylines or subplots. It was simply killer robots hunting teenagers in a locked mall. Blood, exploding heads, electrocution, a fast-paced storyline, nudity, alcohol, and smoking—that's what you'd hope to experience from an 80s horror flick. One of my favorite parts is when one of the teen characters complained that a pack of cigarettes costs "a buck and a quarter?!"

Through additional research after viewing the film, I realized that the mall used for interior shots, the Sherman Oaks Galleria, was the same mall that was made famous in the 1982 classic, "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." After finding this out, I had visions of Jeff Spicoli smoking weed in one of the bathrooms at night, not knowing that the mall was auto-locked with killer robots on the loose.

All in all, I really enjoyed this film. It was a quick seventy-six minute epic 80s experience. I was very impressed with how much the producers pulled off given the limited budget. So if you're looking for a good old "man versus machine", kill 'em style movie, "Chopping Mall" is definitely up your alley. Side note: despite the name, there is no actual chopping that happens in the movie, although there is a very funny cropped shot when one of the teens is hiding in a pet store. I'm sure you'll figure it out. 


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