HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Chopping Mall
HTS Overall Score:85
It’s been a LONG time since Lionsgate has released any catalog Blu-rays. They were one of the pioneers for the format in the early days, but after most studios realized that catalog titles weren’t selling on the format, Lionsgate seemed to just pull out of that market. Which is saddening considering the giant library of horror films they have stuck away in back catalog. Now they’re back in the game and this time they’ve decided to release a limited edition lineup called the “Vestron” line of titles, which feature the kid glove special edition treatment for an array of classic horror films. To start out the line we have them dip their toes in the water with “Chopping Mall” and “Blood Diner”, a set of cheesy B-movies that are so hysterically bad and awesome that you just can’t help but watch. I mean, who doesn’t like to watch a murderous trio of Robo-Renta-A-Cops slicing and dicing up a bunch of moohy teenagers in a mall?
The last line of the opening paragraph really says it all. A local mall has adopted some robotic security guards. These new security droids will now patrol the mall at night and come equipped with stun devices and the like to take down criminals who might break into the mall at night. On their debut night a short circuit occurs that turns the droids into killer robots who see EVERYONE in the mall after dark as a threat. It just so happens that a group of 8 teenagers are partying in an abandoned mall shop after hours and having a night of it. You guessed it. Booze, nudity, sex and all sorts of debauchery. However their night of fun turns into a night of terror when the out of control Robo-Rent-A-Cops decide that it’s time to break up the party. And by break up the party I mean slaughter the teenagers one by one.
However, this group isn’t going down without a fight. After seeing the first two victims fall, the 6 remaining guys and gals turn to the local sporting goods store where they load up on guns and ammunition. Now it’s an all-out war as the nearly invulnerable (seemingly bulletproof I have to say) bots unrelentingly stalk down there prey while the survivors desperately use what tools they have in the mall to stop the pursuing death machines. With over 8 hours until sunup when the mall unlocks the security doors, the inventive teens have to take out the machines before none of them is left.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80618[/img]“Chopping Mall” is gleefully self-aware of its B-movie status. Reveling in the cheesiness of the concept and just RUNNING with it. There is every type of cliché here. The jocks who are good looking and act all tough. Then there’s the nerdy guy with glasses who has a crush on the nerdy girl (can you guess who’s going to survive?) and then there’s the “hot” girls who run around shrieking like it’s “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”. Killer robots who someone can think and co-ordinate strategy, and the mass amounts of ammo fired out of a 6 shot revolver (I counted 9 times at one point out of a 6 shot revolver). With any other touch than Jim Wynorski, this could have gone to the dogs quite easily. But the horror master plays the goofy parts off with a wink and a nod, all the while mixing in even more ludicrous encounters.
Acting wise this is a pile of slop, but then again, that’s exactly what is being served up for dinner and it is some TASTY slop I might add. Women shriek into the camera, guys act macho and do a slow motion Rambo shot and the typical guy and gal make it out alive. Personally I’m rather glad this clocks in at a slim 77 minutes for runtime as any more would have just stretched out the paper thin plot to the point of breaking. As is, it is a very trim and concise flick, with just the right amount of gore and nudity and stupidity to make it fun, but short enough that the stupidity becomes overbearing and a chore to sit through.
Lionsgate has made large strides into becoming a more premium horror label with the Vestron Video line of titles. They’ve gone all in with a HUGE array of extras, a fancy slipcover with awesome artwork and a great looking encode that really is eye-opening compared to the old VHS I used to watch. Honestly I REALLY impressed with their first entry into the lineup. The disc is definitely worth the price as they have made it like the special editions of old, with hours of features and a loving touch that the horror niche will eat up like candy.
Rated R for brutal battle scenes and disturbing graphic images
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80626[/img]Lionsgate isn’t messing around with these titles. “Chopping Mall” comes to Blu-ray with a brand new 4K remastering that was supervised by Director/Writer Jim Wynorski himself. The movie was shot on a shoe string budget using notoriously grainy film stock, but the end result is simply marvelous. The movie still retains a nice grain structure (although there is some compression artifacting with the grain during dimmer sequences), but gone are the nasty specks and debris on the print that was used for the 2004 DVD and the old VHS. Colors are warm and natural, with great skin tones (although you can see the very obvious fakeness of the old orange/red corn syrup blood used back then), and the contrast looks well balanced. Black levels are inky deep and show great shadow detail, despite the movie never really getting THAT dark. Sometimes I noticed some softness around the edges of the out of focus characters, but overall the image has great clarity and wonderful fine detail. As the initial entry into the Vestron Video lineup, Lionsgate put their best foot forward with this one.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=80634[/img]The film comes with the basic (and original) Mono audio track done in lossless DTS-HD MA, and while it isn’t a wildly dynamic track, it is quite well done. Vocals are crisp and clear, and the dialog issues that were so prevalent in the old DVD seem to have been corrected with this new oversight by Jim Wynorski. The sound effects are well placed, and the front soundstage has a lot of activity with the droids blasting lasers left and right and the guys opening fire on it every chance they get. Naturally the surrounds and LFE channel aren’t utilized, but there is a nice level of LFE backed into that front loaded mono track for some added umph when a robot is blown up, or an elevator crashes back down to the first floor after having the lines cut. It’s a simple, yet very clean and effective track.
• AUDIO COMMENTARIES:
o Director/Co-Writer Jim Wynorski, Actress Kelli Maroney, and Co-Writer/2nd Unit Director Steve Mitchell
o Historians/Authors Nathaniel Thompson (Mondo Video) and Ryan Turek (Shock Till You Drop)
o Director/Co-Writer Jim Wynorski and Co-Writer/2nd Unit Director Steve Mitchell
o “Back to the Mall”
o “Chopping Chopping Mall”
o “The Killbots”
o “Scoring Chopping Mall”
o “The Robot Speaks”
o “The Lost Scene”
o “Army of One”
o “Chopping Mall: Creating the Killbots”
• Isolated Score Track by Chuck Cirino
“Chopping Mall” is just one of those 80s midnight special classics that gets better and better with each watching. Despite having a pretty gory premise the movie isn’t as bloody as one would expect. The cheese and the silliness of the premise (robot mall rovers that shoot lasers out of their eyes and carry full weaponry loadouts?) is played up with gleeful self-acknowledgement, and the end result is a film that just keeps giving the goods time after time. Lionsgate did a GREAT job with the audio and video for these titles, as they seem to have really went with the specialness of these Vestron Video releases. Gone is the old days of DNR’s masters and slopping encoding that Lionsgate was known for in the early Blu-ray days, and bring in a natural looking encode that really pops on my 120 inch screen. Definitely recommended for classic B-movie horror fans.
Starring: Tony O'Dell, Kelli Maroney, Russell Todd
Directed by: Jim Wynorski
Written by: Jim Wynorski, Steve Mitchell
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA Mono
Runtime: 76 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: Sept 27th, 2016
Buy Chopping Mall Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Great Watch
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