Horrortoberfest ’18 Day 1 – Chopping Mall (1986)

The grand return of Horrortoberfest starts with a classic shitty 80’s horror film that I had, up until this point, managed to somehow not see. The basic premise is that a bunch of horny teenagers end up getting locked in a mall that has just installed some new security. There are three robots that patrol the mall afterhours but when an electrical storm fries the main computer, the droids go form protectors to killers. It’s like if Short Circuit was turned into a horror film but this came out about a month before that so I don’t even know.

I’m not really sure if this is supposed to be taking place in the future or what is going on because you would think that autonomous, bulletproof robots with deadly laser beams and super pinchers would probably be sold to the government and not as mall security but what do I know? In addition to robots with very clear murder capabilities, this mall has also installed the added security of giant metal locking doors that completely seal off the building. This seems like an awful lot of security to stop somebody from breaking into the local Sam Goody but, again, what do I know? From the opening shots we get of the mall layout in the beginning of the movie, this is at least a 3 story mall with another 4 stories of parking so maybe they can afford full cyberpunk security package.

Our teens are very clearly ranked from horniest (aka Most Likely to be Killed) to least horny (Most Likely to Survive). There are 4 couples with one of the couples being super horny with 2 scenes of tits out, another couple being highly horny with 1 scene of tits out, a third couple that are married but still horny and only have a bra and panties scene, and finally 2 big nerds that barely even kiss and remain fully clothed. If you guess that the order I listed them is the order in which they die, then congratulations. You have most likely seen at least one 80s horror movie. The robots also kill a couple of the technicians that might have been able to fix the problem and a janitor played by beloved character actor Dick Miller. Look him up. You’ve definitely seen him in a ton of stuff.

This is the kind of low budget schlock that was so good in the 80s. It had a premise that there was no way it could deliver on based on the funds available but, by god, they tried. Once low budget horror turned into slasher films where a guy in a mask kills people methodically without any sort of super powers, it turned from “fun, campy romp” to “paint by numbers murder generator”. This is the type of movie you could put on at a Halloween party and enjoy for all the goofy nonsense it brings. The acting is terrible, the effects are sub-Doctor Who levels, and the plot itself makes no sense if you think about it for more than a minute but sometimes it’s just fun to watch a bad horror movie and enjoy watching the effects team try to make a girl’s head explode.

I’d give Chopping Mall a solid 4 out of 5 on the horror scale. Definitely one that I could see inflicting on other people.

3 responses to “Horrortoberfest ’18 Day 1 – Chopping Mall (1986)

  1. “This seems like an awful lot of security to stop somebody from breaking into the local Sam Goody”. You don’t know that mall! A year before, they had an six-foot-two East German-American commando overpower their local rentacops who thought they’d “kick some ass”, of course they needed military-grade protection.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the cameo by Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov reprising their roles from early ’80s cannibal comedy Eating Raoul, where they ate a drug-dealing, double-crossing Chakotay.

    A bit disappointed that this wasn’t a podcast entry.

  2. I remember reading somewhere that exploitation outfit would often hear through the grapevine that a major studio was doing a major release including some component (giant apes or rockets or whatever) and they’d rush to make a movie with that element as a gimmick and be able to release it *before* the major studio release (which they could do, because the studio was trying to do a good and the exploitation company didn’t need to). So, maybe that’s what’s going on here, with homicidal murder bots killing teens being way cheaper to build than Johnny 5, and the plot being hyper generic 80s horror.

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