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LIONSGATE

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Jim Wynorski
Cast:
Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, John Terlesky, Russell Todd, Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller
Writing Credits:
Jim Wynorski and Steve Mitchell

Synopsis:
Eight teenagers are trapped after hours in a high tech shopping mall and pursued by three murderous security robots out of control.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 1.0
Subtitles:
English
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 76 min.
Price: $39.97
Release Date: 9/27/2016

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Jim Wynorski, Actor Kelli Maroney and Co-Writer/2nd Unit Director Steve Mitchell
• Audio Commentary with Historians/Authors Nathaniel Thompson and Ryan Turek
• Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Jim Wynorski and Co-Writer/2nd Unit Director Steve Mitchell
• Isolated Score Track
• “Back to the Mall” Featurette
• “Chopping Chopping Mall” Featurette
• “Talkin’ About…The Killbots” Featurette
• “Scoring Chopping Mall” Featurette
• “The Robot Speaks” Featurette
• “The Lost Scene” Featurette
• “Army of One” Featurette
• “Creating the Killbots” Featurette
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Chopping Mall [Blu-Ray] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (September 29, 2016)

For another glimpse of horror’s 1980s glory days, we head to 1986’s Chopping Mall. At Park Plaza Mall, the owners employ a brand-new, state of the art security system, one that uses robots to keep the peace after hours.

Problems with this set-up emerge when a group of young adults find themselves stuck in the mall following closing. Employees at the shopping center, they host a little party but encounter terror and mayhem when the security system goes haywire and traps them, all while the robotic guards hunt them.

Given that premise, I should note that Chopping offers more of a hybrid than the title implies. I expected a fairly standard slasher effort set in a mall, not the semi-Westworld take found here.

In theory, I like change of pace. God knows the slasher genre ran wild in the 1980s, so I’m pleased to find something a little different than the usual “homicidal maniac” motif.

However, any curveballs remain minor, as Chopping uses standard horror tropes way more than I expected. It takes attractive young people and picks them off in a variety of violent ways. Sure, the “killbots” idea offers some intrigue and the flick does become more action-oriented as it goes, but the movie still plays like a fairly traditional horror tale a lot of the time.

You’ll note that I named none of the movie’s human characters. That’s because the various participants seem largely irrelevant in the greater scheme of things. As is often the case for horror flicks, the people exist so they can get brutalized and killed. Sure, the movie gives them background and exposition, but we don’t care.

As expected, the viewer can easily guess who’ll live and who won’t. This is another area where Chopping adheres closely to genre clichés and fails to differentiate itself.

Which seems like a shame, as the movie displays promise. The film boasts beloved cult actors such as Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov and Dick Miller, a sign that the film aspires to something more than the usual gore. Alas, they’re nothing but windowdressing, as they fail to add anything to the proceedings.

Also, Chopping hints at a satirical/cynical view that disappeared pretty quickly. I must assume that the makers of Robocop saw Chopping, as the former shares too many similarities with the latter for coincidence to occur.

The movie opens with a robbery scene that turns out to be a promo reel for a corporate sales pitch, and the way the robots glitch seems awfully similar to parts of Robocop as well. Even the robots’ voices/dialogue foreshadow the 1987 classic.

If only Chopping Mall could display a fraction of Robocop’s intelligence and insight, it might be a good movie. Unfortunately, it abandons a dark, sardonic attitude that it fails to deliver. After a promising start, the movie turns into just another forgettable 1980s horror tale.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio C/ Bonus A-

Chopping Mall appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. A product of its era, Chopping looked like a low-budget movie from 1986.

Sharpness was decent, as most of the movie came across as passably distinctive and concise. Wide shots tended to look somewhat indistinct, but the flick was acceptably defined for the majority of its running time. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and only a little edge enhancement was detected. As for source flaws, I thought the image looked clean.

Colors were erratic. Occasionally they looked reasonably dynamic and lively, but they usually suffered from the vague murkiness that often affected Eighties flicks. Though I didn’t think the tones were weak, they lacked consistent vivacity. Blacks were similarly decent but somewhat flat, and shadows tended to be a bit dense. The image had its ups and downs but was good enough for a “C+“.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA monaural audio, it also showed it age. Consistently mediocre, the track lacked a whole lot of range. Music probably fared best, as the score could show some pep.

However, that side of the mix also suffered from light distortion, a factor that impacted effects as well. Those elements showed mild dimensionality and lacked great clarity. Speech was intelligible and more than acceptable, though some edgy qualities occasionally occurred. This seemed like a perfectly passable track given the movie’s vintage.

Stuffed with extras, the Blu-ray includes three separate audio commentaries. Recorded in 2004, the first involves co-writer/director Jim Wynorski and co-writer/2nd unit director Steve Mitchell. They discuss the project’s roots, story/characters, sets and locations, cast and performances, editing, music, stunts and effects.

Though not great, the commentary offers a reasonably informative view of the film. Wynorski and Mitchell touch on a good array of topics and do so with humor and lightness. While the track doesn’t catch fire, it still accomplishes its goals – and I have to love a discussion that throws out an obscure SCTV reference.

A new recording, the second commentary features historians/authors Nathaniel Thompson and Ryan Turek. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at how the pair came to love the movie and aspects of their appreciation for it as well as various production notes.

Don’t expect a lot of hard-hitting data from this track, as Thompson and Turek fail to convey a ton of movie facts. Instead, they present as two guys who reminisce about the movies they loved as a kid.

That means a lot of 80s-related recollections, some of which give us a flavor for the era. However, I don’t think the commentary works well as a historical piece – it just seems more like a couple of buddies who get wistful about their youth. It’s not an unpleasant chat – despite the obscene number of times Turek says “y’know” – but it also doesn’t give us much information.

Another 2016 chat, the final commentary gives us Wynorski, Mitchell and actor Kelli Maroney. A running, screen-specific piece, this track examines the same topics as the 2004 Wynorski/Mitchell track, though Maroney’s presence means a slightly larger emphasis on actors/performances.

Even with Maroney in tow, though, the third commentary feels redundant. Wynorski and Mitchell repeat an awful lot of the same remarks from the 2004 track – literally, as they tell the same stories in the same way.

Maroney’s involvement doesn’t add enough fresh material to make the third commentary worth all the repetition. Also, she chews gum the entire time, which leads to an annoying chomping sound from the left channel. The third commentary seems decent on its own – it simply fails to provide enough unique insights to make it worth the listener’s time.

An additional audio option gives us an >B>Isolated Score Track. Presented Dolby 2.0, this presents Chuck Cirino’s music without effects or dialogue. It does little for me, but it may make fans happy.

A slew of featurettes ensue. Back to the Mall goes for 26 minutes, 29 seconds and involves Wynorski, Mitchell, Maroney, and actors John Terlesky, Barbara Crampton, Russell Todd and Nick Segal. “Back” looks at the screenwriting process, cast and performances, stunts and action, the film’s title, and its reception/legacy.

While not an all-encompassing piece, “Back” offers a nice overview, especially from the actors’ POV. It repeats a bit of info from the commentaries but it manages plenty of new thoughts, so it delivers a good summary.

During the eight-minute, 19-second Chopping Chopping Mall, we hear from Wynorski, Mitchell, and editor Leslie Rosenthal. As implied by the title, this piece focuses on editing. It ends up as a brief but satisfactory take.

With Talkin’ About… The Killbots, we locate a 12-minute, 11-second piece with Maroney, Wynorski, Crampton, Todd, Terlesky, Segal, Mitchell and robot creator Robert Short. Here we learn of the design and creation of the film’s robots. Though Short tells us good details, too much of the piece concentrates on praise.

Next comes Scoring Chopping Mall. The 11-minute, four-second clip offers info from Wynorski, Mitchell, Maroney and composer Chuck Cirino, as they discuss the movie’s music. Like “Killbots””, this is a moderately informative but inconsistent piece.

A goofy reel, The Robot Speaks occupies two minutes, 12 seconds. In it, Mitchell “interviews” a “Killbot” voiced by Wynorski. It’s pretty blah.

Unused material shows up in The Lost Scene. This three-minute, one-second segment gives us notes from Wynorski and Mitchell as they chat about an unshot sequence that would’ve used Mary Woronov and Paul Bartel. We then see the script pages for the scene. Storyboards would’ve worked better, but this does give us a decent look at the topic.

Army of One runs six minutes, one second and provides a conversation with super fan Carl Sampieri. He tells us of his love for the film and shows us his collection of Mall-related items. The latter side of “One” works best and helps make this a moderately interesting featurette.

In addition to the film’s traiiler, the set concludes with Creating the Killbots. It lasts 15 minutes, 41 seconds and delivers info from Short, Wynorski, and Mitchell. The piece examines aspect of the film’s development as well as the creation of the robots. Created for an earlier home video of the movie, “Killbots” includes a couple of new points but feels redundant after all the prior programs.

At its start, Chopping Mall demonstrates real potential, but the film soon squanders these traits. After the witty opening, the movie quickly devolves into little more than the usual gore and nonsense. The Blu-ray presents mediocre picture and audio as well as a broad array of supplements. Chopping Mall coulda been a contender, but it ultimately disappoints.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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