It’s almost Halloween, and there’s never been a better time to celebrate the so-bad-it’s-fun inanity of Chopping Mall. Like all truly great films, Chopping Mall provokes a conversation in its audience, raising questions such as: Why does this seemingly ordinary suburban shopping mall consider it cost-effective to bring on killer robots as a security force? Does lightning really push ordinary robots to homicide? Do most people really enjoy having sex in an off-hours furniture ten feet away from another couple having sex? And is it my right as an American to be able to buy an assault rifle at a store that’s right next to a Baby Gap?
These questions and more will be raised–though not effectively answered–in Chopping Mall, a.k.a. Killbots, directed by Jim Wynorski in a manner that is infuriatingly both haphazard and winking, as if Wynorski kind of knows what a good movie looks like but won’t be attempting to make one here. (Or, judging by his filmography, anywhere.) His strategy seems to have run along the classic cheap slasher guidelines–scantily clad twenty-somethings + just enough danger to keep the end of the movie eighty to ninety minutes away from the beginning–and then been injected with two weirdly brilliant bits of stupidity in the form of “kids today like malls, right?” and “killer robots.” Chopping Mall would be a much better and more comprehensible movie–not to mention one more deserving of its title, since no one actually gets chopped here–if it were just about a killer operating in a mall, but instead, we have robots with metal claws, tasers, tranquilizer darts, and laser eyes.
The end result never reaches the idiosyncratic badness of something like The Room or Sleepaway Camp, where the film takes on its own weirdly potent identity, but its cheapness and incompetence do make it pretty fun for group viewing, if you’re in an MST3K kind of mood. (I was able to see this with live We Hate Movies commentary recently, and certainly the whole theater was having a good time.) And it may be the only film of its ilk to have just one degree of separation from the Criterion Collection, via actors from Eating Raoul who reprise their roles here.
Thank you. Have a nice day.
Chopping Mall is available streaming on Shudder.