Chopping Mall (1986)

“I’m just not used to being chased around a mall in the middle of the night by killer robots…”


Directed by: Jim Wynorski

Starring: Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, Barbara Crampton, Russell Todd

In a Nutshell:

Not even the tag team of ’80s scream queens Kelli Maroney and Barbara Crampton can save Chopping Mall, a cheesy sci-fi horror flick about killer security robots rampaging around a botanical garden. Just kidding – it’s set in a shopping mall, hence that title, which, unfortunately, is about the most entertaining thing about the movie, despite some typically gratuitous T&A and mild gore. The robots are like Johnny 5’s evil cousins meet Paul Bart: Mall Cop. Cult legend Dick Miller has a cameo playing his recurrent onscreen persona, Walter Paisley.

Chopping Mall Robot

The Plot:

Park Plaza Mall has just forked out for a new security system that would be more befitting Fort Knox. After a certain hour, heavy-duty steel doors seal the mall and three high-tech robotic security guards are released to prowl the floors until morning. Their fail-safe devices are overridden one night when the mall’s computer control room is struck by lightning, and the robots start malfunctioning. Murderously so.

That’s bad news for Alison (Kelli Maroney) and Suzie (Barbara Crampton), two waitresses at a filthy pizza shack on the food court. Their friends who work in a furniture shop are planning an after-hours party where couples can get drunk and smash in the store’s display beds (always ask for a discount when buying shop-soiled goods). The only two who aren’t smashing are Alison and nerdy Ferdy (Tony O’Dell) who would rather watch an old monster movie instead.

Naturally, the “Protector” security droids start picking the kids off post-coitus (being an ’80s movie and all, sex definitely equals death in this one) and, locked in with the murderous ‘bots, they face a battle for survival…

Kelli Maroney and Tony O'Dell

Best Performances:

Kelli Maroney stands out among a field of generally awful performances as the lovable final girl Alison. As with her earlier role in Night of the Comet, Maroney has a really likeable plucky vulnerability, which makes it easy to root for her even in bad movies like Chopping Mall.

In between two lurid H.P Lovecraft adaptations (Re-animator and From Beyond), Barbara Crampton cements her scream queen credentials as Suzie, by screaming a lot and getting her tits out. Again.

Barbara Crampton Screaming

Dick Miller as Walter Paisley because… well, it’s Dick Miller, innit?

Musical Moment:

Chuck Cirino’s synth score is suitably robotic, in that it sounds a bit like a robot and it absolutely will not stop. Seriously, I wondered if it was ever going to stop…


Pretty weak, apart from one good head popping. Seriously, out of nine deaths, three are a result of some kind of neck wound from the killbots. That’s lame.


The trouble with Chopping Mall is that it falls between all stools. While there are some attempts at humour, most notably in the painful credit sequence where we see a day in the life of the mall, it’s not funny enough to warrant calling it a sci-fi horror comedy. On the flip side, it’s not scary in the slightest, and even the gore is pretty mild and unimaginative, which screws up the horror aspect. It’s certainly not a good movie by any sane person’s definition of the term, but it’s also not terrible enough or weird enough for it to truly fall into the “so bad it’s good” territory. It’s just very, very mediocre.


Johnny 1 out of Johnny 5


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Chopping Mall Blu Ray

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