On March 21st, 1986, a film was released by legendary producer Roger Corman that today is still recognized as a genre classic. “CHOPPING MALL” produced by Julie Corman and helmed by exploitation wunderkind Jim Wynorski, was released during the VHS/home video explosion and it would forever change the way genre titles were perceived within the then emerging market place.
The film chronicles the story of three security robots running amok in a mammoth shopping mall; systematically murdering a group of young people who have remained behind for an all night party at the furniture store where they work.
Outside, a lightning storm strikes the mall several times, damaging the computer controlling the now death-dealing machines. The robots kill a number of unsuspecting employees before going on patrol in the now empty mall. That’s when all hell breaks loose! A young man leaves the party to get cigarettes for his lady friend and ends up having his throat slashed. Following on his heels, the guy’s beautiful girlfriend soon discovers the robots only have one thing on their mind – mass murder. After an iconic head explosion scene which ignites the final attack, the remaining party goers are forced to separate; the men into the mall and the women into the claustrophobic air ducts in search of an escape route.
Directed by Wynorski, who co wrote the twisted script with long time friend Steve Mitchell, CHOPPING MALL was filmed primarily at the now long-gone Sherman Oaks Galleria, also famous as a location setting for FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH and COMMANDO. The movie stars Kelli Maroney ( NIGHT OF THE COMET, RYAN’S HOPE) and Tony O’Dell. B-Movie icons Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Angus Scrimm and Dick Miller, all fixtures in the Corman stable, also have fun cameos in the film as well.
While the picture did moderate theatrical business, it really succeeded in the burgeoning home video marketplace of the 1980s. Released through Lightning Video, a subsidiary of Vestron, CHOPPING MALL proved to rental outlets that solidly constructed B-Movies coupled with great box art could easily out perform mainstream studio product. The title, coupled with the eye-popping artwork, screamed “rent me” to America’s VHS hungry public, and they consumed it ravenously. It could be argued that director Wynorski’s modest cinematic effort laid the foundation for the next two decades of video rentals.
Fast forward to 2013, Jim Wynorski and producer Bill Dever decide that, with the transition to digital delivery now in use by ninety percent of theaters across America and Canada, it was time to re-introduce CHOPPING MALL back to the silver screen. “I was constantly amazed how every recent showing of CHOPPING MALL always turned into an event says Wynorski, adding” people really seem to love the movie and that’s just great.”
With the kind support of Roger and Julie Corman, Wynorski and Dever obtained the original 35mm film elements, which were carefully stored away over the past three decades. Then, under the careful eye of the director, the film was brought back to its original glory and luster using state-of-the-art equipment. This is a dream come true,” proclaims Bill Dever, “to play a small part in the restoration of a classic piece of American cinema is just amazing. Not only is CHOPPING MALL pure fun, in many ways it’s also an important film as well”
Check out CHOPPING MALL when it plays at The B Movie Celebration.