Chopping Mall, 1986

Chopping Mall, 1986

In this fun, Roger and Julie Corman produced 80s B-movie, a group of young shopping mall employees have an after-hours party in one of the stores. After the mall goes on lock-down and before they can get out, the robot security system boots up, malfunctions (due to lightning strike), and goes on a killing spree, just as any put-out, put-upon robot security system should.

From Wikipedia:

Chopping Mall (originally released as Killbots) is a 1986 American science-fiction comedy horror film co-written and directed by Jim Wynorski, produced by Julie Corman, and starring Kelli Maroney, Tony O’Dell, John Terlesky, and Russell Todd. The story focuses on three security robots turning maniacal, and killing teenage employees inside a shopping mall after dark.


Julie Corman had a deal with Vestron to make a horror film that took place in a mall. Jim Wynorski agreed to write one cheaply if he could direct.

Wynorski wrote the script with Steve Mitchell, whom he had known since the 1970s, when they met at conventions for EC Comics, and became friends. They decided to do a “phantom of the mall“-type movie and Mitchell says it was Wynorski’s idea to feature robots.[1] Wynorski said he was inspired by the 1954 film Gog; he claims he never saw the 1973 TV film Trapped, which some believe inspired Chopping Mall.[2][3]

Mitchell says they wrote up the story in 24 hours and sent it to Julie Corman. Vestron gave their approval within a week despite lack of a script. The script took around four or five weeks to write.[1]

Wynorski says Roger Corman “was nothing but supportive from the get-go. He loved the idea.”[4]


The film was written to be filmed at the Beverly Center Shopping Center, but they charged too much money, so the film was shot mostly at Sherman Oaks Galleria, where Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Commando had been filmed. The Beverly Center was used for some exteriors.[1]

Wynorski says that Bartel and Woronov ad-libbed the bulk of their parts.[5]

Mitchell estimates filming took 20 days at the Galleria and two days at Corman’s studios.[1]

Alternative versions

At least two different versions of the film exist. The TV cut has some extra footage, such as a small homage to Attack of the Crab Monsters, extended scenes of Ferdy and Allison watching TV, some aerial shots, and an extension of one of the Ferdy/Allison scenes. No official source offers this version …

Random bits of trivia, errors, and other nonsense...

The movie Alison and Ferdy are watching is Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957), a Roger Corman film.

The budget for the film was very limited (around $800,000 total) but the director had no problems with this, as he was happy to work on a Roger Corman film and knew beforehand that Corman always kept expenses to a minimum.

The trapped teenagers break into Peckinpah’s Sporting Goods store, referencing director Sam Peckinpah.

Jim Wynorski says Roger Corman took him out to lunch before making the film. He bought a yellow pad, “and after lunch he said this here is what you gotta do and he gave me film school in an hour. Everything I learned in film school didn’t count, but what he said made a lot of sense and I still have that yellow pad and I live by it. I now have it memorized, many dos and don’ts.”

The pet shop where Alison hides from the robots is called Roger’s Little Shop of Pets, a reference to Roger Corman‘s The Little Shop of Horrors (1960).

The whole film was shot in twenty-two days.

The inciting moment that kicks off the action is identical to Short Circuit (1986), which is a robot getting struck by lightning. However, the results are exactly opposite. In “Short Circuit,” a killer military robot becomes a sweetheart, whereas in “Chopping Mall” good security robots become killers.
Robert Short Productions of Marina del Rey, California, was hired to produce the robots in this film. Five were built, but only two were functional. One could move by a wireless remote control, and one by a wired remote. The other three could be manually placed and then moved by pulling on hidden wires.

The wall of the restaurant within the mall where two of the characters work is decorated entirely with movie posters of other films released by Roger Corman.

Ferdie gets hit in the chest by one the ashtrays. Then he falls over and hits the ground. His head is bleeding quite a bit to make a puddle. But at the very end you see him standing up holding a roll of toilet paper to his head.
In the fight with the last killbot, Ferdy shoots eight shots from a six shot revolver.
In November 2011, Dry County Entertainment acquired the film rights and is planning a remake with a supernatural twist. The film will be produced and written by Kevin Bocarde and directed by Robert Hall.[6] As of January 2021, nothing has materialized.

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