On March 21st, 1986, a film was released by legendary producer Roger Corman that today still is 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 would change the way the business perceived the place of genre titles within this emerging market place.
The film tells the story of killer security robots taking over a shopping mall and systematically murdering a group of trespassing teenagers who have broken into the mall for an all night party. Four couples decide to have a party in one of the furniture stores where three of them work. They all stay after hours at the mall, drinking, partying, and make-out, while the fourth couple watch old science fiction films on TV.
Outside, a lightning storm strikes the mall several times and damages the computer controlling the security robots. The robots kill two technicians and a janitor, before going on regular patrol in the now empty mall. Two of the teens leave the furniture store and are subsequently killed by the robots The surviving teens witness the robots kill a girl in still talked about head explosion, and the men and women are forced to separate, the men into the mall and the women into the air ducts, when the robots begin their final attack.
Directed by Wynorski who co wrote it with long time friend Steve Mitchell. Chopping Mall was filmed primarily at the infamous Sherman Oaks Galleria famous for appearing in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. The movie stars Kelli Maroney ( Night of the Comet, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Ryan's Hope) and Tony O'Dell. B Movie icons Paul Bartel ,Mary Woronov and Dick Miller , fixtures in the Corman stable have cameo's in the film.
While the film did moderate theatrical business, where it really made an impact was in the burgeoning home video marketplace. Released through Lightning video, the B Movie label owned by Vestron, Chopping Mall equipped with compelling box art created by artist Corey Wolfe. Chopping Mall proved to rental outlet that B Movies coupled with great box art could easily out perform mainstream studio produced fare and could have longer shelf lives. The title coupled with the artwork screamed “rent me” to America's VHS hungry public, and they consumed it hungrily. It could be argue that lying within the success of Chopping Mall laid the foundation for the next decades video rental industry.
Fast forward to 2013, Jim Wynorski and producer Bill Dever decided that with the transition to digital delivery now employed by ninety percent of movies theaters it was time to re-introduce Chopping Mall to North American Theaters. “ I was always amazed that every recent showing of Chopping Mall always turned into an event” says Jim Wynorski “ People really love the movie and for me the guy who directed the film, that’s just great”.
With the kind support of Roger and Julie Corman, Wynorski and Dever obtained the original film elements and under the careful eye of Jim Wynorski brought the film back to its original glory. “ This is a dream come true, to play a small part in the restoration of a piece of classic American cinema is just amazing” tells Bill Dever “ Not only is Chopping Mall pure movie fun, its also in many ways an important film”.
So with the help of Roger and Julie Corman, Jim Wynorski's Chopping Mall will once more grace the theater screens again. Reminding movie going audiences of a time when movies were just fun......
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