CHOPPING MALL (KILLBOTS)
(director/writer: Jim Wynorski; screenwriter: Steve Mitchell; cinematographer: Tom Richmond; editor: Leslie Rosenthal; music: Chuck Cirino ; cast: Kelli Maroney (Alison Parks), Tony O’Dell (Ferdy Meisel), Russell Todd (Rick Stanton), Barbara Crampton (Suzie Lynn), John Terlesky (Mike Brennan), Karrie Emerson (Linda Stanton), Suzee Slater (Leslie Todd), Nick Segal (Greg Williams), Paul Coufos (Dr. Stan Simon), Dick Miller (Walter, the janitor), Paul Bartel (Mr. Bland), Mary Woronov (Mrs. Bland), Mel Welles (Cook); Runtime:76; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Julie Corman; Vestron; 1986)
“An inane but entertaining horror comedy.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
An inane but entertaining horror comedy set in a San Fernando Valley shopping mall (filmed at the Sherman Oaks Galleria). Second-tier director Jim Wynorski (“The Pandora Project”/”The Return of the Swamp Thing”) filmed it for under a million bucks, which is his greatest accomplishment. Writer Steve Mitchell manages to reference a multiple of Roger Corman bits from his past films to the delight of producer Julie Corman, Roger’s wife. It’s a bonkers youth film, whose gag plot has three mall security robots go haywire and disconnect from their computer after a lightning strike and turn into killers for those who get locked into the mall, with its steel doors clamped shut, after closing time.
It opens at a meeting hall in a mall, as the shop owners (including the Blands-Paul Bartel & Mary Woronov, playing in a cameo the same roles from their Eating Raoul classic) watch a smug security head, Dr. Stan Simon (Paul Coufos), show a promotional short about the mall’s three new Protector robots. They will be put in use for the first time when the mall closes that evening and will roam the three floors looking for intruders. Simon ends his talk saying – what could possibly go wrong?.
The first to get zapped is the janitor (Dick Miller, a Corman regular, who was in his A Bucket of Blood and reprises the same role here) mopping up a spill after closing time. Meanwhile the well-behaved nerdy teenager Ferdy (Tony O’Dell) is subbing for his uncle, the boss of the Furniture King, and his teen employee pals talk him into letting them party in his store after closing time by getting sexy Suzie (Barbara Crampton) to fix him up with the new nice girl co-worker pizza parlor mall waitress Alison (Kelli Maroney) on a blind date.
The remainder of the film is about the Killbots roaming the mall and after each kill politely wishing their victims “Have a nice day” as they lie dead at their feet. There are four couples in the mall who try to survive and kill the robots. The others besides the two mentioned above are Suzie with Greg (Nick Segal), the horny married couple Rick (Russell Todd) and Linda Stanton (Karrie Emerson) and the sexually charged dating couple of Mike (John Terlesky) and Leslie (Suzee Slater).
It’s diverting a film, but the characters are poorly developed and it’s not all that funny (aside from a few funny gags). It plays best as a time capsule work for 1980s schlocky nostalgia film buffs.
REVIEWED ON 6/2/2020 GRADE: C+