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Blu-Ray Review: Vestron Video’s Chopping Mall

Chopping Mall

Chopping Mall finds a group of friends locked in their local shopping center when they stay after hours to party. The storm that is brewing outside causes the mall’s security robots to malfunction. Instead of guarding the place, the bots begin to terrorize it. The teens fight for their lives as they are hunted down and destroyed.

The cover art for this film is brilliantly misleading. What is displayed on the box has basically nothing to do with anything that actually happens in the movie but that just ads to the appeal for me and probably for most horror enthusiasts. With this Blu-ray release, the original artwork has been tweaked a bit but it’s still very similar to the VHS cover.

Roger Corman’s wife Julie produced Chopping Mall, which is also known as Killbots and the film brings the same brand of camp we have come to expect from a Corman production. It’s obvious that the actors and the creative team were having fun while making the film. The ridiculous nature of the subject matter is taken in to account by all involved and played to the maximum.

Jim Wynorski (Not of this Earth) is in his element at the helm of this campy classic. It was only his second feature but he shows a lot of directorial prowess for a young filmmaker. He perfectly set the tone and expertly walked the line between utter nonsense and an attempt at semi-serious filmmaking. He is a frequent Roger Corman collaborator and the pair clearly understands and appreciates the absurd.

Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet) is well cast as final girl Alison. She brings an innocence to the role but also proves that she is just as tough as the male characters. Alison is resourceful and brave but vulnerable at the right times. Barbara Crampton (Re-animator) turns in a memorable supporting appearance as well. All of the performances are passable by horror movies standards. They aren’t exceptional, but people don’t watch horror films for the Oscar-caliber acting.

Like other films of its time, Chopping Mall employs the use of practical effects. The FX makeup is above average – there is a great exploding head scene towards the beginning of the film and plenty of other violent deaths, as well.

The pacing is pretty perfect. The deaths are well-timed and serve to hold the viewer’s attention. Chopping Mall clocks in at around 75 minutes, which is short by mainstream filmmaking standards but perfect for this slasher film. A longer running time probably wouldn’t have added anything to the picture that isn’t already there.

Fans of gratuitous nudity will not be disappointed with Chopping Mall. There is plenty of bare flesh on display in this flick. There is even a tasteless close up of one of the actresses walking to the cigarette machine in her ‘barely there’ underwear. Barbara Crampton has a nude scene, as does one of the other actresses. All of the nude scenes are totally unnecessary and totally awesome.

The Blu-Ray release is a fan’s dream come true. Up until now, all I’ve had to watch the film was a full frame transfer of the film with gritty picture. Just the fact that the flick is finally available in widescreen and on Blu-Ray is cause for celebration. But that it is a jam-packed release loaded with more special features than I even know what to do with blows my mind. And stopping to consider that there are eight featurettes is truly insane. And, there are even three separate commentary tracks! This is the definitive Chopping Mall release. Fans will likely never see another that comes close to this. Do yourself a favor and grab your copy before they are gone for good. The Blu-ray is available from September 27th.

WICKED RATING: 7/10

Director(s): Jim Wynorski
Writer(s): Jim Wynorski, Steve Mitchell
Stars: Kelli Maroney, Barbara Crampton, Tony O’Dell, Russell Todd
Release: September 27, 2016 (Limited Edition Blu-Ray)
Studio/ Production Co: Concorde Pictures, Vestron Video, LionsGate
Budget: $800,000 (Estimated)
Language: English
Length: 77 Minutes
Sub-Genre: Slasher

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Written by Tyler Doupé
Tyler Doupe' is the managing editor at Wicked Horror. He has previously penned for Fangoria Mag, Rue Morgue Mag, FEARnet, Fandango, ConTV, Ranker, Shock Till You Drop, ChillerTV, ComingSoon, and more. He lives with his husband, his dogs, and cat hat(s).
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