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Blu-ray Review: Chopping Mall (Vestron Horror Classics)
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Adam Frazier   |  @   |  
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Chopping Mall

Chopping Mall
Blu-ray
Director: Jim Wynorski
Screenwriter: Jim Wynorski, Steve Mitchell
Cast: Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, John Terlesky, Russell Todd, Karrie Emerson, Barbara Crampton, Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller
Distributor: Lionsgate
Rated R | 95 Minutes
Release Date: September 27, 2016

“Where shopping can cost you an arm and a leg.”

Exploitation filmmaker Jim Wynorski has given us so many classic films. The Return of Swamp Thing, Scream Queen Hot Tub Party, 976-Evil II, Ghoulies IV, Sorceress, The Bare Wench Project, The Witches of Breastwick, Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre – the list goes on and on. Of the 100+ movies the writer-director has made, however, his finest accomplishment is 1986’s Chopping Mall.

Starring Kelli Maroney (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Night of the Comet) and Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, From Beyond), Chopping Mall is the epic story of eight teenagers trapped in a state-of-the-art shopping mall, pursued by homicidal security droids, also known as Killbots. As the robots pick off the frisky teenagers with their high-powered lasers, the survivors break into a sporting goods store (“Peckinpah’s”) to secure weapons. Armed with rifles, propane tanks, and golf carts, the denim-clad kids wage war on the murder-bots with Park Plaza Mall serving as their battlefield.

Chopping Mall is one of those movies you can’t help but love, because it’s so earnest in wanting to entertain you. While the title is somewhat misleading – no one gets chopped to bits – there’s a pretty great head explosion scene, second only to the pulpy noggin eruption in Scanners. Plus, there are some fantastic cameos of Corman regulars like Paul Bartel (Rock ‘n’ Roll High School), Mary Woronov (Death Race 2000), and the incomparable Dick Miller (A Bucket of Blood).

The film’s titular mall is the famous Sherman Oaks Galleria, used as a location in films like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Night of the Comet, Commando, and Back to the Future Part II. This means that Kelli Maroney has played a teenager stuck in the same mall in three different movies. Pretty impressive. The robots, designed by Robert Short (Piranha, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial) are a lethal combination of Nintendo’s R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy) and a Terminator, with a dash of Maximilian from Disney’s The Black Hole. They’re also extremely polite, offering “Thank you, have a nice day,” after violently murdering you. Considering Chopping Mall‘s budget ($800,000), it’s amazing how well the effects hold up 30 years later.

If you have fond memories of watching Wynorski’s movie on cable or VHS as a kid, you’ll be blown away by this Blu-ray release, with a 1080p high definition transfer (16×9 Widescreen 1.85:1) from the original film elements. The original monaural audio is included, as well as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Audio. This limited edition Blu-ray is packed with bonus features too, including an isolated score by composer Chuck Cirino as well as two new audio commentaries: one with Jim Wynorski, Kelli Maroney, and co-writer Steve Mitchell, and one with horror aficionados Nathaniel Thompson (Mondo Digital) and Ryan Turek (Blumhouse). There’s also a track from 2004 with just Wynorski and Mitchell. Like Vestron’s Blood Diner release, Chopping Mall comes with several new behind-the-scenes featurettes, including:

– “Back to the Mall” – Interviews with the Victims and Makers [26:29]
– “Chopping Chopping Mall“ — Editor Leslie Rosenthal Speaks [8:19]
– “Talkin’ About the Killbots” — Creator Robert Short Spreaks [12:11]
– “Scoring Chopping Mall“ — Composer Chuck Cirino Speaks [11:04]
– “The Robot Speaks!” — Ten Questions with the Killbot [2:12]
– “The Lost Scene” — Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, and a Horse… [3:01]
– “An Army of One” — Chopping Mall’s Biggest Fan: Carl Sampieri [6:01]
– “Chopping Mall — Creating the Killbots” [15:41]

Chopping Mall is an absolute must-own for horror fans and is now available at Amazon. Also available from Vestron Video Collector’s Series: Blood Diner, Waxwork and Waxwork II: Lost in Time, Return Of The Living Dead 3, and C.H.U.D II: Bud The Chud.

Trailer

Exclusive Clip: Head Explosion

Cover Art

Chopping Mall Blu-ray Cover Art

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