Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Film Review: CHOPPING MALL (1986, Jim Wynorski)

Stars: 4 of 5.
Running Time: 77 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Barbara Crampton (RE-ANIMATOR, ROBOT JOX 2, TRANCERS 2), Russell Todd (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2), Kelli Maroney (NIGHT OF THE COMET, FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, SLAYGROUND), Tony O'Dell ( Jimmy from KARATE KID 1 & 2), Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, and Dick Miller!
Tag-lines: "Where shopping can cost you an arm and a leg."
Best one-liner: "Waitress, more butter!"

Let's talk about the VHS cover art for CHOPPING MALL for a moment, shall we? (Click on the art for a larger view.) Right off the bat, I'll tell you this: way more macabre creativity was poured into the title, slogan, and poster art than into the film itself. But I guess that's what 3rd-tier 80's horror flicks are all about. The ghoulish interest begat by the grotesque illustrations that launched a thousand kids' nightmares... Before we can even get to the imagery, we've got a redunkulous tagline that begs repeating: "CHOPPING MALL- Buy or die... half off is just the beginning!" Below, a robotic gauntlet thrusts forth a paper shopping bag, full of severed eyes and ears and noses and feet. I'm repulsed... but I can't stop staring at it. It's the same way it was with the oddly entrancing gore of DINOSAURS ATTACK! or the GARBAGE PAIL KIDS' Ali Gator with his lunchbox full of eyes and toes. It's all targeted toward kids and their morbid curiosity toward all things gruesome. And though the magic was then usually shattered by some straight-to-video nonsense, I feel like that initial marvelous 'hook' is completely gone today. Now we get some Photoshopped stupidity featuring screaming CW actors on their summer hiatuses.

Anyway, CHOPPING MALL is a fun time. From director Jim Wynorski (MUNCHIE, GHOULIES IV) and Roger Corman's Concorde Pictures, it plays out kinda like DAWN OF THE DEAD meets THE TERMINATOR in the framework of a generic slasher.

There's exploding heads, one-liners ("Oh! Fuck the fuchsia it's Friday!", "Let's send these fuckers a Rambo-gram!"); a cameo by Dick Miller as 'Walter Paisley' (originally from BUCKET OF BLOOD, but later appearing in HOLLYWOOD BLVD., THE HOWLING, and THE TWILIGHT ZONE MOVIE);

Dick Miller succumbs to the 80's love affair with animated lightning.

and an unforgettable appearance by Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov reprising their roles as the Blands from EATING RAOUL.

Paul Bartel makes a snide remark involving Hispanics.

It all adds up to something that's kinda forgettable, but with a lot of that old Corman charm. But one thing we'll never forget is that creepy effin' poster and the fabulous nightmares that it once was capable of conjuring...

-Sean Gill

1 comment:

TimTE01 said...

I'm literally getting this movie in the mail today from my other God (Netflix). Sounds like I have a good time to look forward to.

I figured that the combo of Wynorski and Terlesky (from "Deathstalker 2") couldn't let me down. I may post my review soon depending on how I feel.