Chopping Mall (1986)
What’s it About: Apparently there is an EPIC problem with shopping malls being robbed after closing. I’ve never heard of anyone breaking into a mall and robbing it blind after hours, but it seems like it was an epidemic in California in the mid ’80s. At Park Plaza Mall, things have gotten so out of hand that the only answer is to install impenetrable 8-inch thick steel security doors at all the exits and have three robots known as “Protectors” patrol the mall at night to restore order with tranquilizer darts and stun guns. Your regular steel gates and two human security guards just won’t cut it, these thieves are just too good and too many. But killer robots? Isn’t that a little much, the mall’s store owners ask? Absolutely not, the robot salesman assures them, because, “Protectors do NOT kill.” Or DO they? They do.
Nobody asks if the cost of this obviously astronomically expensive robot project would ever justify what could be stolen from the stores in the mall, but they don’t have time to, as the Protectors are put into use immediately. It’s bad timing for a group of eight twentysomethings-I-guess, who decide to have a party in the mall’s furniture store. Three of the guys work at the furniture store, one of the girls is the daughter of the furniture store owner, two other girls work at a pizza place in the mall, and another married couple, who own an auto mechanic business, also show up. Apparently, nobody in this group lives on their own, even the married couple, because why they would choose to have a party in the mall after hours instead of at one of their houses is a baffling mystery that is never explained and couldn’t be explained even if they tried.
The trailer above calls this, “The wildest all-night party of their lives.” If that’s true, that’s very sad. The actual party (before the sex) consists of a little dancing in one small space in the couch department. It’s about as wild as Gymboree. After the wildness dies down, each couple grabs a bed in the showroom and makes it with each other—all within plain sight of one another. Although there is basically an orgy going on around them, the two nerds of the group, who will obviously be the ones to live at the end, decide to watch an old monster movie instead of making it with each other.
In keeping with what was known about robots at the time, a lightning strike gives the Protectors a mind of their own… and killing is on their minds! First they cut the throat of the tech guy who’s monitoring them, then they kill HTHV favorite Gerrit Graham! But killing the immortal Gerrit Graham isn’t enough for the Protectors, so they venture out into the mall to bring death to any after-hours humans unlucky enough to be stuck working or wild-partying. They come across Mr. Futterman from Gremlins mopping the floor, and even though he has the proper ID badge, which is supposed to protect the employees, the Protectors don’t give a sh*t, and electrocute him good.
You know what happens next. The Protectors come after the wild party group, and killing and hilarity ensue. The humans grab some guns at the mall’s gun store and try to shoot the Protectors, but that does nothing. They also try setting them on fire, which has no reason to work, and they’re shocked that it doesn’t. Until the ending, when it does. See, everyone gets picked off one by one until it’s just the nerds and one of the Protectors, and the guy nerd gets knocked out so the girl nerd has to defeat the bad guy. It’s a cinema first. (To see how everyone dies, view below.)
Anyway, she defeats the final Protector by going into the hardware store, knocking a bunch of paint to the floor, tricking the robot into rolling into the paint, then setting the puddle of paint on fire, which then EXPLODES. Yes, all of the paint in the store explodes.
The paint explodes, I said.
Is it Actually Scary: It’s more of a Terminator-like action flick instead of a horror movie. It doesn’t seem like it’s even intended to be scary, which is probably even more disappointing to people who thought this was a psychotic murderer movie.
Gore Level: Some throat-slashing, and one FANTASTIC head explosion (see Best Part).
Dumbest Moments: Can’t pick just one, sorry. 1) The humans take out the elevators, destroying one of the Protectors in the process, and later we see the Protectors using the escalator, which is seemingly the only way they can travel between the floors of the mall. So taking out the escalators would take away the ability of the Protectors to access any floor other than the one they were on, so the humans could just basically wait on another floor until morning. Nobody thinks of this. 2) The Protectors shoot laser blasts at the humans, even though they’re not supposed to kill, but the only reason to have lasers that blast would be to kill things. Well, unless they’re shooting one of the weak blasts. You see, every laser blast has a different level of destroying power. Sometimes a human gets hit with a laser blast and it just kind of stings them. Other times it gives them a flesh wound. And another time, it makes a girl’s head explode. 3) At one point, the girls crawl through the air ducts (the guys don’t make it up there before the Protectors show up) to make it to the parking garage so they can escape that way (which I suppose thieves could do to get in and out of the mall, rendering the robots and steel doors moot—damn sneaky mall thieves!). One of the girls freaks out and they end up going back down to the mall. But nobody ever tries to go through the air ducts again, even when some of them are literally just sitting around in one of the stores, waiting for morning to come.
Best Part: That’s easy.
Best Line: A portly guy is eating pizza in the pizza place and yells, “Waitress! More butter!”
Nudity: A couple of nice boob shots during the part where everyone has sex in the same room.
Overall: Take a look at the poster again. Really take a good look at it. Now, just going by the poster, what do you think this flick is about? A murderer wearing some kind of metal glove who hunts his victims down in a mall and chops them up with an axe or something and keeps their severed body parts in a bag. That’s what we thought, too, and it couldn’t be further from the truth. And “Buy or Die…”? What does that even mean? It makes it sound like the killer is forcing the victims to go on a shopping spree, and whoever has the lowest total of purchases is dead meat. Also, there is no chopping going on whatsoever.
Anyway, in the beginning we thought the stuff with the robots was just some film within a film thing. Then it quickly dawned on us that the robots were going to be doing the killing. OK, no big deal, but why the poster and the title? It seems like the poster artist was given the title only to work with, without knowing anything about the movie. But check out this piece of trivia from IMDB:
The movie was originally theatrically released in March 1986 under its original title, “Killbots.” It performed poorly during its initial release. The producers felt the movie’s title might have disinterested audiences, who might think based on the original movie poster that it was a “Transformers”-like children’s cartoon instead of a violent exploitation movie. After some time, the movie was re-released on video under its new title with over 15 minutes cut.
WHY WOULD ANYONE THINK SOMETHING CALLED KILLBOTS IS A CHILDREN’S CARTOON????????
But all in all, it’s stupid, but not a total waste of time. It’s a fairly fun watch as long as you don’t wait for one of the characters to do something remotely intelligent.Score: 6.5 (out of 10)