You Have to See This! Chopping Mall (1986)

choppingmall1The Park Plaza Mall just signed on to install a high tech trio of robotic guards that patrol the grounds until dawn and disable any potential thieves until the police arrive. When lightning strikes the technology, the robots malfunction and begin hunting down eight employees that have decided to party in the mall overnight. With the robots on the hunt, the eight employees do their best to outwit and outlast the murderous robots and perhaps survive until dawn when the sealed doors finally open. But with the robots capable of working together, while shooting deadly lasers and electric darts at the helpless friends, staying alive is going to be more difficult than either of them ever imagined.

Make no mistake this is a silly movie, but a damn fun one that clocks in at barely eighty minutes. So if you just want to see killer robots murdering people good, you’re going to get what you invest your time in. These robots look like something out of Dr. Who, and yet they pose a formidable threat against their perceived foes. Sure, this is a horror movie set in a mall, it has an iconic poster, and it has killer robots that eviscerate the intruders, but deep down it has a great sense of humor about itself.

There’s even a montage in the opening of the movie that sets the premise of the mall being the central setting where director Jim Wynorski does nothing but offer up goofy scenarios that you’d normally see in a mall during this decade. A young boy with an ice cream cone is trampled by shoppers in an elevator, a young man with boxes falls while riding the escalator when he sees a line of beauty pageant contestants, a young boy is riding through the mall on a skateboard, there’s a teen girl struggling to deliver food to her friends that she spills on them, and a dad and his son fight over an arcade game.

choppingmall0There’s also a noticeable amount of product placements for Coca Cola. In either case, the premise is simple. The mall is futuristic—despite looking like every other mall from the eighties–and it’s locked down at night and opens in the morning, no exceptions. During the after hours, despite the locked down structure, the robots are activated to patrol the grounds non-stop and disable any intruders or thieves until morning. Sadly thunder strikes the technology, causing the robots to malfunction. You figure with all the money spent they could afford a surge protector. The robots then become murderous and relentless, and begin stalking eight employees of the mall who have decided to stay after hours to party and indulge in teen sex and alcohol use.

This is after they murder Gerrit Graham, and Dick Miller, who plays a crusty janitor. I think Mr. Miller was contractually obligated to be in every horror movie in the eighties as some sort of oath to a demigod or something. Either way, Miller’s appearance cements the film as pure schlock that promises a short but fun sci-fi slasher romp. “Chopping Mall” is so deviously tongue in cheek that you can’t really accuse it being itself. At one point the characters are preparing cocktail bombs for the robots and Kelli Maroney’s character sees a convenient display for road flares reading “Why get caught in dangerous situations?” The opening even features a lot of witty banter when one of the presenters for futuristic guard robots protecting shopping malls is speaking to his audience. I’m not even sure why there is a need for a trio of technologically advanced robots to protect sneakers and sweaters, but lo and behold, this is “Chopping Mall” and its unabashed premise.

choppingmall2I think these robots should be guarding missile silos and power plants, but again, you’re better off considering this a science fiction tale where everything has deadly robotic guard drones that can murder you. I imagine there are four of these robots patrolling a swap meet in a back lot making sure no one fights over a plastic clown figurine or else they shoot then with face melting laser beams. “Chopping Mall” is another one of those low budget horror classics made out of convenience and a small budget, hence why it’s mostly just a one setting film. Thankfully the setting is large and filled with a variety of corners and open spaces, but like “Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl o Rama,” “Nightmare Sisters,” and “Dawn of the Dead,” you can tell the mall setting is primary because lack of funding made it impossible to film anywhere else.

Everything occurs in this mall, right down to obligatory sex scenes, and some really cheesy moments where our characters arm themselves with weapons to battle the robots. I was never in a mall of this kind, but did malls in the eighties really have stores where they sold semiautomatic rifles, and shot guns? You figure with a mall using guard robots capable of murder they’d lock up the store tightly or something. It does make for a good slow motion shot, nevertheless, and oddly enough no one on the outside ever hears the war ensuing. While the villains themselves are pretty straight forward, it’s never really made clear how to defeat the robots. Sometimes it takes a few gun shots to bring down one robotic drone, while another needs to literally be blown up within in a huge store in the finale to be taken down once and for all.

choppingmall-chaseAnd how did the robots develop lasers when the inventor presenting them indicates that they’re only built to disable and stun intruders? Either way while after the movie I’m sure there were lawsuits aplenty, they were probably more forgiving once the zombie apocalypse presented itself, and people were able to hide out in the mall with the robots being embraced as heroes.

When I was a young boy my parents used to drop my brother and me off with my aunt who worked a nine-to-five job at our local video store. I must have crossed paths with the “Chopping Mall” poster a thousand times a week, and it stuck with me for a long time. Wynorski’s science fiction slasher is glorious schlocky B movie goodness with comedy, some excellent death scenes, and a creative concept, all around. It’s a camp classic as it deserves to be.

Sorceress (1995): Uncensored Director Approved Edition [Blu-Ray]

sorceress-blurayIt sure is a hard life or Larry Barnes. He’s had a rough time living with an insanely sexy wife Erica, who so happens to be a witch who practices black magic. After failing to curse one of Larry’s business rivals, Larry and Erica clash causing Erica to fall to her death. After casting out his other very sexy female lover and Erica’s sister Maria, she threatens to make his life miserable for causing the death of Erica. After moving on, Amelia, the wife of Larry’s rival is still very bitter and angry about her husband being confined to a wheelchair. Intent on causing hell for Larry, she gives Larry’s new very sexy girlfriend Carol a medallion that Amelia uses as a means of taking control of Carol.

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Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2016) [Blu-Ray]

sharkansasblurayThe consistent utterance of Dominique Swain’s character to herself of “Crap on a Cracker,” just about sums up Jim Wynorski’s latest turkey that mixes “Con Air” and “Tremor.” No doubt tailor made for airing on late night cable television, “Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre” is a goofy PG-13 crime thriller with a bunch of land roving sharks that apparently make their victims explode upon contact. This is the kind of movie cable television dreams of. It stars a host of gorgeous women, many of who scamper around in conveniently handy bikinis, and whose prison garb are short shorts and clinging tank tops. They also never actually have sex or drop F bombs.

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Hard to Die (1990)

hardtodie1990What Jim Wynorski’s “Hard to Die” has in common with “Die Hard” is that it features a high rise. And that’s about it. But I don’t blame it for being so shameless in exploiting the aforementioned action film, when “Hard to Die” is purposely exploitative and shameless to begin with. 1990’s “Hard to Die” also known as “Tower of Terror” and “Sorority House Massacre 3” is seventy minutes (Well if you cut out the montage from “Slumber Party Massacre,” the film is a cool hour) of goofy ridiculous fun intended to mock the horror genre at every turn. It’s a horror movie, a comedy, a slasher, a demon possession film, and a softcore porn romp all in one. And damn it, it’s still a lot of fun.

There’s really not much to say about “Hard to Die” except that its narrative is nothing but a hodge podge of plot elements mashed together for the sole purpose of featuring our buxom cast run around in lingerie. A group of gorgeous busty women working in a lingerie shop have to pull an all nighter sorting out stock for their sleazy boss. They’re also easily startled by the building janitor Orville, as played by Peter Spellos. He survived the previous confrontations from the past “Sorority House Massacre” movies and is still suspected of murdering the poor girls. Deciding to pass the time, they put on lingerie and scamper around, all the while taking showers together, bouncing and jiggling and making pretty funny jokes that reference previous scenes.

When a pizza delivery girl is called up to the building through the elevator, the mysterious killer of the movie sets her ablaze. Cut to one of the characters moaning “Where’s the girl with the food already? It’ll be char broiled when she gets here.” Yes, it’s that kind of movie. While “Hard to Die” is a loose sequel it’s also very much a horror comedy that spoofs all of the eighties film tropes, right down to the action flicks. Suffice it to say if that isn’t enough, the girls accidentally receive a package in the form of a locked box that unleashes a demonic spirit. When released, the murdering begins as someone is knocking off the buxom troop. Could it be Orville? Or could it be someone entirely unexpected?

For a movie that doesn’t require much in the way of acting ability, the cast of gorgeous women pull off their performances well, and Peter Spellos is very good as the enigmatic Orville. “Hard to Die” has a narrative that’s just absolute nonsense, but I enjoy how it seems aware of that, and uses it to deliver a hilarious and entertaining horror comedy. When the girls happen upon a gun store in their high rise, and one of the characters justifies being able to inexplicably handle a machine gun like a pro by declaring “My dad was a marine!” you just have to laugh and enjoy the ride.

Vampirella (1996)

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It’s hard to believe almost twenty years ago, the height of superhero movies was “Batman & Robin” with studios not really clamoring to adapt any of the beloved superheroes. It took “Blade” to finally bring some tooth and maturity to the entire sub-genre. One of the more interesting precursors to “Blade” is the dreadfully boring vampire adaptation “Vampirella,” which is a tonally confused take on the pulpy pin up character mostly known for being beautiful and sexy, and not so much for her compelling story lines. “Vampirella” is never sure if it’s campy horror schlock, exploitative vampire softcore, or a stern horror epic. So director Jim Wynorski pretty much lunges for all three on the table, and comes out with this pretty gloomy and dull film.

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976-Evil II (1992)

976EvilII

Director Jim Wynorski offers up a sometimes clever, but inferior follow up to the original Robert Englund film, that doesn’t really advance the narrative so much as it treads water. Rather than explore the themes of the apocalypse, and the eventual war of good and evil dictated by the hotline, we’re once again subjected to a tale about the hotline wreaking havoc.

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Busty Coeds vs. Lusty Cheerleaders (2011)

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To be honest, I’m not even sure how to approach this film in any critical sense. The movie opens with character Angie emerging from a pool and narrating the movie. But–is she a narrator? Or a host? Is this supposed to spoof reality show, or is this an actual story? Director Jim Wynorski (as Sam Pepperman) can never really seem to care at all, so he basically just throws whatever sticks to the wall, and distracts us for seventy five minutes with soft core scenes of busty women being drilled, and busty women having sex with other busty women.

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