Social Distance Snarking
Title: Chopping Mall (1986)
Summary: Sexy after-hours party held by employees in a goddamn mall is interrupted by murderous mall security robots. Hi-jinks ensue.
Tagline: Buy or Die (Well, that’s… succinct.) …Half off is just the beginning! (Oh! It continued on! How… odd. For a tagline.)
Notes: Something tells me this film has become something of a cult classic and will either be very good (bad) or very bad (bad). [JC: Considering whose production company this is, it is going to be campy schlock. Because that’s what he does. (I’m not name-dropping it yet, because bat came to the realization eventually, and I actually cheered when she did.)]
Hi and welcome to “how bat is trying to spend time during social distancing amid a global pandemic” portion of 2020. Seriously, it’s not like I really left the house a lot when there wasn’t a virus plague going around but shit is starting to get to me. It sucks being a empath. I think I need a tinfoil hat because I feel worn out.
But anyway, you’re not here for that. You’re here to read another recap about a horror movie! Distraction, yay! I’ve been looking to find some really bad horror movies that I’ve never seen and so far I’ve found some doozies. Today’s selection is 1986’s Chopping Mall!
So, somehow – this may be a theme(?) – I found another “horror comedy” but this one also has the distinction of being “sci-fi” as well. Unlike My Demon Lover this film seems to know exactly what it is – sci-fi/horror – with a dash of poorly written comedy thrown in because 1986. Er, technically, 1985.
I’ve heard about this film through Twitter and I think it’s been making the rounds on those pay-for subscription horror movie channels – apparently for sure on Shudder right now – but I only like things I have to spend hours trying to track down through moderately nefarious means. This is the age of the internet, you know. Why make it easy for myself?
Just watch the trailer:
Okay, trailer lies. No one broke into the mall. And it gives way too much away. For fun, I’ve invited JC to join me with commentary. This is not just because she confessed to peeking at my post as I was writing it but because I think I mentioned this film quite a while ago and she replied to my tweet about it. Maybe I’m misremembering but anyway. It’s fun to bring a new
victim friend along for a recap ride! [JC: I have no memory of a Twitter convo about this, but it’s completely possible. My memory is very unpredictably hit-or-miss when it comes to conversations. Anyway, I’ve been wanting to watch this movie for the last couple of years, ever since I listened to the How Did This Get Made podcast episode about it (which I was going to link, but it is unfortunately behind the paywall right now. Boo.). I never got around to it until bat gave me the incentive with the offer to comment on her recap of it. Which I had peeked at long enough to determine what she was working on next. I mean, it was labeled “[redacted recap]”! How could I resist seeing what it was!] [Wing: I’m pretty sure there was a Twitter convo, because the movie’s been sitting on my list of things to watch so I can comment and up until y’all talked about it, I hadn’t even heard of it. I can’t say I was missing out. Mostly.
Note from the future: Apparently I mixed up two different twitter conversations about movies to recap, so I have rudely inserted myself into this recap, but since I didn’t learn this until after all my comments, well, I’m here! Enjoy surprise!Wing.]
Geez. I guess it’s time to spend an arm and a leg. Let’s go Chopping!
Oh man, those old 1980s graphics titles with the far out color fade with the “outer glow” effect on the text! Seriously, if there is a sweet spot for making me nostalgic for an era, it’s movies from 1985-1988. That fact it’s pink/purple/blue colors on the text, for a blatantly gory horror movie, makes me laugh. [JC: Hey, those are the colors of the bi pride flag! I hereby proclaim this movie a Bisexual Icon.] [Wing: So it is spoken, so it becomes. I’m not sure we want this as a Bisexual Icon, but we’ve got it now. I did end up with a terrible crush on one of the women.]
Opening shot: a display of
obviously fake rhinestone costume fancy and expensive diamond and pearl jewelry laid out on… that’s not black velvet but okay, satin cloth? Either way, there’s a dramatic music cue, a shadowy figure appears and smashes the glass case. Gloved hands reach in and start grabbing the jewelry. The figure is still in half shadow but he has a mullet. It’s the eighties, man! (I will hold my tongue because Dove will no doubt identify the actor playing the thief easily from other films, seeing as he was totally not credited for this appearance.) [JC: Hi, I’m not Dove, and I have no idea who this guy is. Super helpful, right?] [bat: Well, she’ll probably tweet at me something like how did you not know?! and my ace in the hole is I’ve never seen a single movie from the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.] [JC: Now, alternately, the guy oh-so-subtly shoplifting the record later on was in a Nightmare on Elm Street movie.] [Wing: Dove, we need you! (I don’t recognise him either, but I’m also shit at Name That Person. Or Tune. Or Quote. Look, just don’t make me name things, okay.)]
Weirdly, oddly? there’s no alarms going off. No sirens, no buzzers, nothing. Huh. The thief pockets all that jewelry into the pocket of his black hoodie and walks off. Um? Next he’s walking down what is clearly a open hallway of a mall, there’s stores but all of them seem to be closed. It’s night! Thief is walking casually, we switch to
bad guy POV and hear a sound that reminds me of a vacuum…
There’s a shot of what look like smaller versions of tank treads, humming along, speeding up, as the thief smiles to himself in a self-congratulatory fashion. “STOP RIGHT THERE.” A mechanical voice calls out, triggering the thief to spin around and aim a very oversized handgun… at a robot.
How do I describe this robot? Hm. Well, it has the tank treads for “feet”. Can’t clearly see its body yet. The head is a squashed circle laid on its side with a wide strip cut out for its “eye”, glows red of course. There’s a yellow light on the top of its head. It commands the thief to drop his weapon and surrender.
Apparently this dude missed Robocop (oh wait, that came out in 1987) so his response to a robot is one of credulity. He fires six shots at the robot, none of which do any damage. I must say, the body is kind of just a box with spindly robotic arms, but whatever it’s made out of, it’s bullet-proof. The thief starts to run away, the robot speeding after him.
Oh hell no, there’s no way that ridiculous gun had two more bullets in it. Anyway, thief fires off two more rounds at the robot as he runs around a corner. It’s hilarious that the shot shows the big yellow “M” symbol for McDonald’s but the rest of the sign is hidden, probably couldn’t afford the rights to show it.
I may have been wrong about the robot’s arms? It seems to have some pinchy claw-like hands but no… appendages? Like, no arms? It’s weird. I hope we see the full thing. Oh, never mind, there it is. Huh. It’s squat and box-shaped, and I still don’t understand how those pinchy-hand things do it any good.
[Wing: He pinch.
He pinch a lot.]
What does matter is a compartment slot opens in its chest and fires a fucking taser at the thief, bringing him to his knees. I guess non-lethal methods are best. The robot rolls to a stop beside the face-down thief (I’m assuming he’s unconscious from being tased?) and I was totally right the first time, the robot has spindly little arms, four of them! With pinchy-hands! They’re just raised and tucked in against its body. [JC: Except when they’re flailing about in an adorable/hilarious manner. I don’t know why, but I find these robots (or Killbots, the original title of this movie) super cute.]
THE REAL IMPORTANT PART IS, this is a goddamn promotional video. “THE END A SECURE-TRONICS PRODUCTION” title card comes up. We just watched a demonstration. The shot smash cuts to an old-style film projector before the camera pans out to show there’s a crowd of people viewing the film. A woman rises from the front row and climbs up on stage to the podium, announcing that that “concludes the film portion” of the presentation. She knows the audience has questions (I ALWAYS HAVE QUESTIONS, LOTS AND LOTS OF THEM) so she’d like to introduce the head of development Secure-tronics Unlimited, Dr. Stan Simon.
Yes let’s meet Dr
Frankenstein Simon and learn why he thinks creating robots to handle security is a good idea! Oh! And here’s some handy models to lift the sheet off and reveal three security robots! Oh boy, three of them. This seriously reminds me of Short Circuit right now, but the robots are way less cool looking and totally lack personalities. [JC: UNTRUE. They very politely tell you to have a nice day after they murderize you! That, in my book, is PERSONALITY, baby!]
Pretty sure I’m just here to drop videos into this recap.]
The PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots. Oh good god, you couldn’t come up with a more interesting name? So, jumping right ahead, in a week the robots will start “protecting” the mall. The camera pans across the audience. A woman sitting next to a balding, bearded man, comments: “Paul, they look like the Three Stooges.” Which is a lie, none of them have hair to tell us who is Moe or Larry.
As the lady who introduced him so helpfully uses a pointing stick to stab at the graphics on the map, we learn A) this is the Park Plaza 2000 and B) the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots only patrol the three upper levels of the six storey mall. Now, how many malls were six storeys? Where I’m from, you may get four or five but most commonly, two or three storeys at most. It also seems kind of weirdly compact from the map but I KNOW I KNOW IT’S A DAMN MOVIE.
“I don’t know, Mary,” Paul snarks. “The one in the middle has an unpleasantly ‘ethnic’ quality.” OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE, WE AREN’T EVEN THREE MINUTES IN AND THERE’S A RACIST DUDE.
Dr Carrington [JC: YOU NEVER SEE HIS FACE, BUT THIS IS ANGUS FUCKING SCRIMM, AKA THE TALL MAN FROM THE PHANTASM SERIES! For some reason, he’s credited under his birth name, Lawrence Guy.] [bat: Yet again, I do not know who that is nor have I seen films from that series.] [JC: If you like your movies to make sense, I do not recommend watching that series, then. They’ve got great atmosphere, but I can’t make a bit of sense out of them. I’m sure there are people ready to yell at me about how they make perfect sense, but I stand by what I said.] gets his question taken first. He wants to know what the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots “do” besides kill “criminals”. Dr Simon says the robots don’t kill. Okay. Why the fuck we cut back to Mary wondering if the robots kill cockroaches, Paul offering that they could be programed to. I don’t know, but I’m beginning to hold out hope the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots murder Paul and Mary. [Wing: I think Paul and Mary are trying to steal our snarking thunder. They fail.]
Things that will go wrong shortly: the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots are designed to “detain” suspects until the rooftop computer patches into the phone system and sends an alarm to the police.
I SEE SEVERAL MILLION THINGS WRONG WITH THIS OPERATING PROTOCOL.
Paul points out exactly what I was wondering, that the thief in the film looked “awfully dead”. “No, just neutralized!” Sure, sure, Dr Simon.
Oh yes, shows us the fine features of the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots! Sleep darts from two ports knock out a man in 30 seconds. Wait, wait! That’s it!? What about the taser we totally saw in the promo film?? Nope, Dr Simon is on to talking about the unlikelihood of an intruder entering the mall because – oh my god – THERE’S GIANT SOLID METAL SECURITY DOORS THAT ENCLOSE THE MALL FROM MIDNIGHT TIL DAWN. [JC: This always annoys me. Dawn is not a time. Give me a time. And yes, later they say 6 AM, but here they say dawn, which again, is not a set time!] [Wing: What kind of respectable mall closes early enough that you can guarantee all staff out by midnight?! (Don’t @ me, I grew up in a town without a mall. We had to drive for hours to get to the nearest one. I have no fucking idea, but that still seems early!) For that matter, what respectable sex party is designed to end before midnight?]
One of my kind of unrealistic fears is being locked in a room/space/building by thick metal security doors that cannot be breached by regular means, so this is just great. Just great. [Wing: Oooh, The Relic is not a movie for you then, even though I’m pretty sure you like it. I should recap that one soon.] [bat: I love The Relic. So much so that I saw it in the theater weekend of release in 1997. It’s filmed in my most favorite museum in the world. All that happens in The Relic revolving around being locked in said favorite museum in the world gives me high anxiety, though. SOME DAMN DAY I WILL VISIT THE FIELD MUSEUM IN PERSON. And yes, why haven’t you recapped that yet?] [Wing: I honestly thought I had! I went looking for a link to it to include in my previous comment and then realised I’d only mentioned it in other recaps. Adding that to the list! Also: FIELD MUSEUM ROAD TRIP! After all of this mess. Getting to see you and the field museum would be the best!]
Mary gets up and calls the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots “violent” but if they’re named protectors what do they protect? Okay I seriously hope Mary dies. Dr Simon says they do plenty. Um? If this is the first implementation of the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots, how do you know that? They (allegedly) do their work in the mall proper and do not enter stores. (SURE.) [Wing: Aren’t a huge portion of mall stores (if not all of them) perimeter stores that have back doors for deliveries? Or at least easy access to a delivery dock? So if the robots are patrolling the central public areas and not going into the stores, what good are they actually? What, they think a thief is going to walk through the centre of the mall and not break in via some delivery dock/backdoor/whatever? Also, weren’t security cameras a thing?] We can’t hear the rest of Dr Simon’s pitch because we go back to assholes Paul and Mary, Paul musing maybe they need one for the restaurant so they can “get rid of people we don’t like.” [Wing: Considering his ethnic comment earlier, we all know what this means.]
Okay! Back to the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots’ features! Oh great, they have lasers! Because robots always should totally have laser capabilities! That never goes wrong!
Some guy asks about how the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots distinguish between good and bad guys, since people work late. Dr Simon chuckles – great, you’re a jerk, too – and says it’s very simple. He speaks into a gigantic walkie-talkie (oh man) and instructs a smoking man in a white lab coat to bring #1 online. (I’m kind of getting Jurassic Park vibes from this scene, though the “control room” is basically archaic compared to the computers Nedry and Arnold were using. [Wing: I got the same vibe in a couple of places, including here.]) A button gets pressed, a sound effect plays, and #1 rolls forward, its red “eye” glowing. Honestly? The PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots look like fucking unskinned Cylons only squat, with tank treads, and much more cheaply produced. Maybe I’m wrong but there you go. [JC: Pretty much. An OG Cylon fucked Johnny 5, and the resulting Killbot grew up idolizing the Daleks.] [bat: Well, there’s a mental image I will never erase.] [Wing: Did I ever tell you about the first time I watched Short Circuit? I was a grown woman, it’s one of Ostrich’s favourite childhood movies, and I basically turned it into a porno via my commentary. (Reassemble Stephanie. Reassemble.) I don’t think he’s forgiven me yet. Clearly, I needed JC here to watch it with me.] [bat: And yet another mental image I can’t erase. Two for two! Also, Short Circuit was filmed in Astoria, hometown of the Goonies. I have photos from when we drove by Stephanie’s house.]
Why the crowd is so impressed by #1 being turned on, I don’t know, but they’re ecstatic. #1 rumbles forward and roars about seeing an identification badge, please. At least it’s polite? Dr Simon holds up his badge, a photo ID with a barcode, practically smashing it into #1’s “eye”. Paul makes more stupid commentary (ugh) and #1 says “Thank you, have a nice day.” to Dr Simon. I guess this means Dr Simon checks out as “good”.
FATAL WORDS: “You see! The system is absolutely fool-proof!” [JC: Ha! hahahahahaha they’ve never seen a movie before!]
Okay, so everyone who works in the mall has been issued an ID badge so they can escape the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots and (more fatal words) when the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots go online, they will make Park Plaza the most secure mall “in the state”. Okay, don’t they usually say “the country” or “the world”? Just the state? How… not remotely grandiose of you, Dr Simon.
Paul and Mary share a look and roll their eyes. Really, please die.
“Absolutely nothing can go wrong!” Dr Simon, you’re an idiot. AND ROLL TITLE CREDIT OVER #1! Complete with catchy robotic-synthesizer music cue! [Wing: I love the synthesizer music in this. LOVE IT.]
Oh now we’re really rolling credits! Over a long shot of the outside of the mall, which is a “modern” (by 1980s standards) building with sleek rounded lines. We’ve moved inside, the camera panning upwards to show the multiple levels of the mall, still with credits rolling. (For anyone wondering, this was filmed at the Sherman Oaks Galleria, with some outside footage of the Beverly Center, located in California. Actually, the Beverly Center grounds have a really fascinating history, I suggest you watch this video about it.)
I want to say the “cold open”, even if half of it was a “video presentation within the context of a film” was different. Not necessarily good, but different. I know the MCU does some cold open stuff but it isn’t always a common thing in film. And god damn these credits are long. Look! An elevator! Look! An unsupervised child with a chocolate ice cream cone! Look! People piling into the elevator! Look the elevator opening and people piling out and the child is now wearing his chocolate ice cream! HA HA HA! [JC: Little boy, WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS?!?!?!] [Wing: Disassembled.]
Why is the record store called “Licorice Pizza”? Huh? Oh, wait, that dude is SHOPLIFTING a whole record UNDER HIS SHIRT and thinks it’s totally unnoticeable! HA HA HA! Random couple heavily making out on a bench, while old couple sitting on another bench stare before she chastely kisses him on the cheek. HA HA HA! Woman carrying tray laden with soda cups that have no lids, dodging rude men who keep trying to bump into her. HA HA HA! Man brings food to son who is playing an arcade game, shoves the food in child’s hands, then takes over playing the game, before son drags him away. Man passing by dives in to take over video game! HA HA HA! Woman with tray of drinks is back! HA HA HA!
Okay, pre-teen child who is skateboarding through the mall. Now he’s slaloming through a line of… women in bikinis? Wearing sashes? As if they were in a beauty pageant? WHAT IS GOING ON??? Back to lady with the tray of drinks and food! Nope, smash cut to the bikini-clad butt of one of the contestants! They’re all getting on the escalator! I can’t quite read their sashes. I think they’re shilling something – one says “TAKE THE KIDS!” [JC: . . . take the kids WHERE, ma’am?! Is this a child kidnapping ring? What is happening?] another says “HAVE A BALL!” – but anyway, some dude carrying a bunch of boxes gets fixated on the half-naked bikini models and trips on the escalator, spilling his parcels and flattening boxes. HA HA HA!
Woman with the tray makes it to her… family? Sons? and someone PUSHES HER DELIBERATELY, spilling everything on the teenage boys. HA HA HA! SO FUCKING HILARIOUS!
I don’t know why we just circled a popup tent “store” named “CIRCUS TENT O’ VALUES” but there’s some lady with a baby standing beside it. Next, we head over to a restaurant, literally it says RESTAURANT in letters on the window. I can’t read the rest. Who knew that red would be such a terrible font for reading. I can make out SOUPS and SANDWICHES but that’s about it. I wonder if this is the home of Mary and Paul?
Okay credits have finally finished and it seems the real story is about to begin! There’s two waitresses, both blondes so I guess I’ll have to designate them Curly and Braid [JC: Braid is genre fave Barbara Crampton! Hi!] until I get some names. There’s also a chef who looks like he just walked off the “YOU CAN’T DO THAT ON TELEVISION” set – who remembers Barth’s Burgery??! – and he’s yelling at the waitresses in some kind of mix of Italian and Jersey accents. There’s also a lot of plates of food sitting there, waiting to be taken to customers. What the fuck?
Oh yes, someone orders a double anchovy pizza and an order of “garlic logs” (???!) and of course it is the “overweight slob” so both waitresses giggle as we’re shown said man stuffing his face. “I should have known!” Braid laughs. “That orca beaches here every night.” OH HA HA HA. Braid warns Allison (Curly) to serve at arm’s length, if she catches Braid’s drift.
I can’t tell exactly what happens but I’m guessing Allison burns her finger, causing her to drop a plate of food. It smashes and everyone in the restaurant laughs. Chef guy complains but then totally lights a cigarette and starts smoking while cooking food for people. [Wing: He picks up his cigarette off a plate, I’m pretty sure! Amazing.] Yeah, I know, many of you don’t remember a time when we had smoking and non-smoking areas in restaurants, and when people could basically smoke when/where ever they pleased, but I DO NOT MISS THOSE DAYS.
Braid and Allison kneel to clean up the mess, Braid reminding Allison that in an hour they, quote, “Blow this BBQ and it’s GOOD TIMES TO THE MAX!” WAIT WHEN DID I START WATCHING AN EPISODE OF SAVED BY THE BELL!?
Allison is apparently still not sure of the “good times to the max” and tells Susie (Braid) that she doesn’t know anyone. Susie assures Allison she would not set her up with a “slime dog”. My god, if this is the kind of dialogue I’m going to have to put up with for the next hour, I should find some alcohol. The chef literally has to remind them to do their jobs and take the food out while it’s still hot.
“WAITRESS, MORE BUTTER!” the fat slob guy yells.
Before we SMASH CUT to an establishing shot outdoors. It’s dark. There’s… random lightning. SMASH CUT to the cheesy control room. Not Arnold is smoking and doing the crossword puzzle in the paper. There’s half eaten food and drinks around the computer station.[JC: Do you want rats? Because that’s how you get rats.] [bat: AND ANTS!!] Oh great, not Arnold is a slob like Nedry. More footage of fake lightning! A bolt hits… well, I’m guessing that was something important because sparks just flew all over but none of the lights went off. [Wing: The rooftop computer, maybe?]
Not Arnold swivels in his chair and behind him, sitting very ominously, are the three PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots. (I’m really beginning to think this movie ripped off plot elements from Short Circuit.) Not Arnold returns to the crossword. More lightning bolts hit the same… computer? I don’t know what that is! I’m assuming it’s the control thing that alerts the police. The PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots sit, silent.
A THIRD LIGHTNING BOLT STRIKE AND FINALLY THERE’S RED LIGHTS AND SIRENS! Oh, and smoke! That’s a nice touch. Not Arnold is driven into action, flipping switches and hitting buttons. It takes a while, and another random insert shot of fake lightning, before the sirens switch off and everything is NORMAL again. Not Arnold takes another look back at the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots. Nothing.
Basking in the security that the situation is a-okay, not Arnold pulls out what I thought was a manual but no, it’s a porno-mag. He opens to the centerfold, unfurling it and turning around so the magazine blocks the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots. While he’s lusting over the lingerie-clad centerfold, #1 switches on, swivels its head to look at one of the other PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots, then swivels back and switches off. YEP. THIS IS A SHORT CIRCUIT RIPOFF!
Just when not Arnold thought it was safe, one of #1’s pinchy-hands punches through the exposed breast of the centerfold and grabs not Arnold in a choke hold. Apparently this is exactly enough force to KILL NOT ARNOLD, as there’s blood leaking out of his mouth in a steady stream.
I HAVE QUESTIONS. SO MANY QUESTIONS. ALL THE QUESTIONS.
I guess we have our first official victim! Bye, not Arnold!
I’m not sure why we keep showing an establishing shot of the outside of the mall, with the staircase that is lit up with pink neon like it’s some sort of futuristic walkway to Mars or something, but there you have it. Again. I would guess this staircase still exists? I feel like maybe I’ve seen it in a YouTube video or something? A quick google search and apparently the stairs once belonged to the aforementioned Beverly Center and my bad, it’s an escalator not stairs. I guess it’s still in existence but may have been modified back in 2007.
That’s California for you, even the malls are outrageous.
Anyway, establishing shot of the
stairs escalator and some more fake lightning. They’re really hammering home that this is kind of falls under “act of God” in case anyone gets lawsuit happy, aren’t they. [Wing: Look, bat, force majeure clauses are no laughing matter.] [bat: This is why having an actual lawyer as part of the recaps helps, because I’m probably not the only one who thinks they kind of a joke.]
Inside the mall, in what appears to be a department store, we are in the home furnishing section. A nerdy looking fellow appears from the stock room, carrying a large load of carpet and/or fabric samples. Over the PA, a voice announces a sale then announces there’s a lost child in the lingerie department. [JC: They also announce his name, which I know is a big no-no from working an ungodly number of years in retail. Good job, Mall Announcer, now any kidnapper can walk up to little Steve(?) and tell him he’s taking him to his parents while calling him by name. Good job!] [Wing: I wonder if it wasn’t something they worried about at this point in the 80s. Though I suppose the stranger danger campaigns ran as early as the 60s.]
Apparently samples boy is named Ferdy. (Fernando? [JC: Cue ABBA! 🎶There was something in the air that night, the stars were bright, FERNANDO!🎶] [bat: I refrained from making that joke, so I’m glad you ran with it, JC.] [JC: I aim to please.] Ferdinand?) He arrives at a register where a jock-type with a mullet is hanging around, drinking a soda. Another man is working the books. All three are dressed as salesmen, complete with ties. Soda Jocko accuses Ferdy of going “chicken shit” on them, since Ferdy apparently agreed to hold down the ship while his manager is… somewhere not there. Jocko turns out to be Mike Brennan, henceforth known as Brennan, and he starts antagonizing Ferdy, who threatens to pull rank on Brennan.
Third dude Greg tells Brennan he’s a real prick and reminds them that the “party” is going to happen teamwork makes the dream work!
Greg asks Brennan if he got the beer, which makes Brennan incredulous that someone thought he wouldn’t get the beer. Rick and Linda are bringing food, he says clean sheets are definitely waiting (?!), and Suzie is bringing a prize for Ferdy. Let me guess, it’s Allison.
OKAY WHY WHY WHY WOULD YOU HAVE A SEX PARTY IN A MALL? Yeah, maybe I’m atypical or something, but really, isn’t that what camping in the woods is for? (Not that I’ve gone on a trip like that. But I know many, many, many friends who have.) Barring the rest of the issues I’d have with this scenario, I’ve been in malls after hours. It’s boring as fuck and depending on the mall, can be rather creepy. (Why I was in malls after hours is not relevant to my point and is hardly worth explaining.) [Wing: Pretty much always worth explaining. Lie, if you have to, just give us a fun after-hours mall story. It is guaranteed to be better than Cusick’s The Mall. Hell, this movie is guaranteed to be better than that book.] I dunno, I don’t find a thrill in the idea of having sex in a random department store display bed with a guy I barely know while everyone else is drunk. Just doesn’t appeal. [JC: Nope. Do these people not have homes they can randomly fuck in? One of the descriptions of this movie I saw says the characters are teenagers, which I find HIGHLY unlikely, but it would explain why they have to fuck in a mall rather than their parents’ houses, I suppose.] [bat:… NONE of these people are teenagers. No fucking way. They’re all early 20s, minimum. And that one couple is married, so they must have an apartment. IT’S ALL JUST ABOUT ILLICIT MALL STORE SEX!] [Wing: At the very least, there are cars! Car sex is just fine and dandy, people. Why do you want to have sex in a furniture store? People sit on that furniture all the time! It’s gross! If you’re going to orgy, just have the damn orgy, don’t fake it with this we’re so close but so far thing.
Since I’m only around to drop dubiously-connected videos, here, have a much better call for a threesome.
BUT THAT’S ME AND CLEARLY THIS MOVIE THINKS OTHERWISE.
Apparently Ferdy’s uncle Sid is the manager? Brennan insists this party plan will work. Somehow I believe that even though they were properly informed of the
evil PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots being brought in for security reasons, Brennan and co seem like the type to have either not paid any attention or totally forgot. I don’t see them sporting ID badges. Ferdy goes back to trying to find a fuchsia sample, Greg is left to “hold down the fort”, while Brennan goes to find Leslie. Yes, air humping totally gives us a clue to where your brain is at, Brennan. Though I don’t know how to explain the quacking noises he makes as leaving.
“Fuck the fuchsia! It’s Friday!” Greg announces to Ferdy. Ferdy just rips off his clip-on tie in response.
ANOTHER SMASH CUT TO FAKE LIGHTNING. Some dude is working on his large… it’s a Ford… I can’t remember what those are called. Not a truck but like a truck but like a GMC? [Wing: You’re thinking of a Ford Bronco, I think, but that’s definitely a Chevy bowtie on the front, so it’s probably a Chevy Blazer.] Anyway the hood is up and he tells whomever is in the cab to try the engine again. It refuses to turn over. Strike three, Wally! Lady gets out of the cab, reminding Wally of the rules, three strikes and it’s her turn. Um, okay? Apparently this couple is very passionate about cars, they’re sucking each others’ lips off, before Wally climbs in the cab and she leans under the hood. After she fiddles with some stuff, and Wally gripes about waiting, he turns it over on the first shot. Apparently she has a way with engines and you don’t, Wally? [Wing: One of the reasons I have such a crush on her. I love that she fixes it and he doesn’t, I love that she’s so confident in herself and her skills, I love her hair, I love how those jeans look on her — such a crush. She’s clearly doomed.]
As she joins him in the cab, we learn they’re married and he had a “40-weight” oil stain on his tux the day they said “I do”. Somehow I think they’re going to die shortly. They also sunk all their money into this… I can’t tell if it’s a moving company or a trucking company or what but it certainly revolves around automobiles. [JC: I got the impression they run an auto repair shop. Confirmed later when they do the math on how many tune-ups it’ll take to pay off the damage they’ve done to the mall.] I’ve also figured out that “Wally” is a nickname, and dude is really named Rick because there is a “R+L” on the sign on the truck door. So that means this is LINDA. And Suzie is depending on them!
Rick isn’t real happy about this party but when Linda tosses a skimpy lingerie getup at him and says she won’t be needing it, Rick slams the pedal to the metal and they roar off down the street. Oh good god.
BACK IN THE MALL! Brennan has made his way to another shop, we hear a voice over announcing the mall closing in twenty minutes and lower parking levels will close at 10pm. [Wing: Wait, so are all those lower levels not patrolled by robots only parking? That doesn’t seem like enough parking for three floors of mall stores.] I think this is info we need to remember. Brennan sneaks through the store, which is a clothing store, and grabs an unsuspecting woman – who is folding jeans – from behind, by the boobs. Yeah, that’s real fucking subtle. “You horny bastard!” She hisses half-heartedly. Me? I would have kneed the fuck out of him. Even if I was dating him. [JC: When I was 14, the boy I was dating came up behind me as I was sitting at a lunch table and leaned down, putting his hands on my shoulders. Even though I kinda knew it was him, my reaction was to headbutt the back of my head into his face. It was just a reflex. Moral of the story: don’t fucking sneak up behind people.] [Wing: These are my people, readers.]
They commence to making out when a man asks, “What can’t you wait for, Michael?” Uh oh. It’s Mr Todd! Leslie Todd‘s dad? Oops. Brennan makes an ass of himself because he’s not bright enough to think up an excuse on the fly. Leslie swoops in and whines and says Brennan is taking her to Suzie’s house for, uh, her birthday party. Yeah! That’s totally believable! Even after he caught you two making out! [JC: This is even more hilarious because they’re clearly 35.]
Mr Todd isn’t that dumb. But he plays along, giving dirty parental looks to Brennan as he tells Leslie he’s running late. She assures him she’ll lock up and take care of everything. “I’m sure you will,” Mr Todd almost snarls. Yeah, I wish Brennan would choke on that goddamn gum he’s chomping on. [Wing: GOD SAME. I hate the sound of people chewing gum when it is as broad and smacking and terrible as this.] As soon as Mr Todd turns his back and leaves, Brennan and Leslie recommence sucking faces.
Over at the payphones – remember those? – Allison finishes talking to her dad. She hangs up and immediately checks the coin return slot. Um, maybe this is a thing from my generation and backwards but you always check a coin return slot, even if you know the damn payphone has taken your money. [JC: I would always hit the coin return lever, too, just to see if I could force it to give me some illicit change back.] [Wing: We would check whether or not we used it, too! Same with vending machines.] WAIT. WHY ARE THERE PAYPHONES IN A LOCKER ROOM? THIS MALL HAS SHOWERS AND A LOCKER ROOM???? I AM CONFUSED!
Maybe if the mall has a gym, sure, but I don’t know? [Wing: I am also confused about this whole locker room thing.]
A woman runs by wearing only underwear, toweling her hair, as Allison rejoins Suzie, who is dressing. Suzie is stoked that Allison’s father told her to go out and have a good time. She actually called it “bitchin!” Suzie complains her parents treat her like a kid.
FATEFUL WORDS: “Why do I have a feeling I’m going to regret this in the morning?” Allison asks. (Oooo! Is Allison going to be the Final Girl of the film? I kind of hope so!) Suzie insists that after a rough first week, Allison deserves a blow out. (I.. I would not call a party a blow out.) [JC: because of how floofy her hair is, I immediately thought we were talking about getting her hair blown out, then realized no, that’s dumb, that can’t be what we’re talking about.] Random naked woman wanders through shot. Look I know that the director went on to direct a whole slew of soft-core porn films and I also know that this an 1980s horror movie, so it’s a thing but good lord.
Suzie is stoked and so excited for Allison. Well, when you’re naive…
Now they’re out walking on a sidewalk. Allison offers Suzie some hairspray. Now Suzie is putting on lipstick. I’m confused, why not do this in the bathroom / locker room you were just in? Allison is like me, what’s the point of a party in a mall overnight? What’s there to do? Suzie insists Ferdy – who she hasn’t named to Allison – has a “great personality”. That still doesn’t answer Allison’s questions. The women check each others’ hair, then run enthusiastically into the furniture department.
SMASH CUT TO ANOTHER GODDAMN SHOT OF FAKE LIGHTNING STRIKING OUTSIDE
The sliding doors open on the command center and another nerdy dude in a white lab coat wanders in [JC: Holy shit, it’s Gerrit Graham, aka Fuckwit Phil from Child’s Play 2! Are you gonna die horribly? I bet you’re gonna die horribly.], reading a book, and apologizing to
not Arnold Marty for being late but it was “all you can eat” at where ever and he couldn’t resist pigging out. Only there’s no sign of Marty. Or, if you will, Marty’s corpse. Huh. The PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots murder and clean up after themselves!
Also not Arnold complains about Marty leaving the command center a pigsty, before he chows down on what looks to be a powdered sugar donut hole. Ew. “Waste not, want not,” he tells the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots. Taking a seat in the rolly-chair, his feet up on the console, also not Arnold goes back to reading his book. Pretty soon #1 switches on and turns its head to look at one of the other robots, who switches on briefly in reply. Ominous music plays. #1 switches off and also not Arnold hears the noise. He glances back at the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots but nothing’s out of the ordinary. Another noise gives him pause but he continues to read his book.
Silently, one of the chest compartments slide open on #1. Its going to fire a sleep dart at also not Arnold! But just in the nick of time, the phone rings and also not Arnold gets up to answer. The compartment closes. Whomever is calling wants Marty but as soon as also not Arnold says Marty isn’t there, the caller hangs up.
See, that wouldn’t work now. We have CALLER ID.
Also not Arnold settles back down into his chair to read. He looks back, several times, at #1, in suspicion. Dude, you should always listen to your gut. You’re in a sci-fi horror comedy. But, seeing that nothing is apparently amiss, also not Arnold returns to reading. We see the panel open in #1’s chest again. Something on a cord shoots out and grabs also not Arnold by the neck, yanking him back. I thought that compartment was full of sleep darts!?
We’re not even 20 minutes in and we’re up to 2 deaths. [JC: This movie is 77 minutes long, and IMDb tells me the kill count is 10. That averages one death every 7.7 minutes. In other words, we’re right on track!] [bat: Wow. Just…wow.] [Wing: This movie felt much longer than 77 minutes. Possibly because it kept repeating and repeating and repeating, a la that opening escalator shot.]
Over in the furniture department, the tinny Casio radio is playing tunes while three couples are drinking beers, making out while dancing, and dancing. Ferdy is struggling, I’m guessing he’s in the bathroom or somewhere where there’s a mirror, because he literally just popped the collar on his dress shirt. Oh my god, don’t. He adjusts it a tiny bit, takes off his glasses but realizes he can barely see, then breathes into his palm to check his breath. Yeah, this is going well.
Now we’re up to Brennan/Leslie and Rick/Linda making out while Suzie and Greg cut a rug. What a party. Ferdy has put his glasses back on but after checking in with the couples, we see Suzie and Greg have ambushed Ferdy and dragged him onto the sales floor. Suzie takes his glasses and unbuttons his shirt practically to his navel, while Greg says this is not a democracy and he has no choice. Suzie yanks him over and introduces him to Allison, who slowly swivels her chair around to gaze upon her date for this nightmare.
Well, when two nerdy people who dress like 80s preppies meet and fall instantly head over heels for one another… [JC: They’re adorable. I’m rooting for these wacky kids.]
Greg and Suzie smile in satisfaction. They’ve done a good deed! Of course they ruin the moment by mocking their nerdy, shy friends. Ugh.
OH BOY THE FUN IS ABOUT TO REALLY START! #1 of the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots rolls out and onto the floor of the shopping mall. It actually announces that it is on level 1. Now, correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t they supposed to be guarding just the top 3 levels of the mall? And how exactly do they move between these floors? And if it’s on level 1, does that mean the first level of its programmed floors (ie: “1” is actually floor 4?) or what? QUESTIONS. I ALWAYS HAVE QUESTIONS. [JC: Maybe they’re counting from the top down? Otherwise, I got nothin.] [Wing: I still think it’s the three store levels and everything beneath it is parking. So #1 is on store level one, #2 is on store level two, etc. And I’m guessing they aren’t supposed to cross levels but will.]
#1 blows past the Circus Tent O’ Values. We get a shot of where this party is taking place: the Furniture King “The House of Royal Values” store. So it’s not a department store even though it was given the framing of one. What the fuck ever, the whole front of the store is glass, so the goddamn robots are going to “see” you, you assholes.
Sure enough, #1 “hears” and/or “sees” the commotion through the glass and pauses to look, before motoring on by. #2 comes online and announces it’s on level 2. (Again, my same questions apply.) Repeat with #3. Yay. So we all know that all three PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots are online and active.
HERE’S MY PROBLEM WITH THIS BASIC STORY PLOT. If the robots are only programmed to protect the mall “proper” (Dr Simon’s words) then if the morons don’t leave the store, they should be safe until the robots go offline in the morning. Also, having been in malls, I know there’s back doors to most shops, hell, the robots just came out of access tunnels. So again, clearly able to avoid the robots. Of course I realize this is all null and void because the robots just killed Marty and also not Arnold so no one is supervising them upstairs and there’s no one to call the cops when they turn murderous.
Still. The lightning striking the whatever is not enough to justify these robots turning murderous. What the hell actually went down to make them break their programming? [JC: I was convinced I’d spaced out and missed something, but I guess it really was just the lightning? Like, that’s pretty weak as an explanation, but okay. Personally, it would make way more sense if some rival mall had sabotaged the Killbots. That’s how these things usually go, isn’t it?] [bat: That’s what I was thinking, that Dr Simon was secretly a serial killer who had an advanced robotics degree and programmed the murderbots but…] [Wing: I want that movie.]
There is a lot of footage of these damn robots tooling around the mall. Like, I’m sure they were louder in real life, because they are loud AF in the film.
OH MY GOD. Linda just walked through a gauzy curtained-off area into a display where Rick is laying, naked but covered by the sheet, in the bed. And she’s wearing a skimpy white bra and panties. He asks if she has a license to wear that getup. Snort. LESS THAN TEN FEET AWAY Greg and Suzie are stretched out on a couch. Greg tells Suzie she smells like pepperoni. A box of BETTER CHEDDAR crackers is on prominent display. Suzie does not take kindly to being told she smells like pepperoni and gets off Greg. But of course, it’s just shitty role playing. Because now Suzie is topless and back to making out with Greg.
I never went to make out parties, and only once did I ever attend a gathering with a bunch of people (most of whom I barely knew) where the hostess went upstairs and fucked her boyfriend while the rest of us watched films downstairs. And the only reason we knew what happened was because she came downstairs wearing her boyfriends bondage pants afterwards. It was awkward as fuck. And I do not understand or even like the idea of HAVING OTHER PEOPLE AROUND when I’m engaging with anything remotely physically intimate with a guy, so this movie is freaking me out more than normal. PLUS THIS IS A FURNITURE STORE. PEOPLE GO THERE AND TOUCH AND SIT ON ALL THE FURNITURE ALL DAY. EWWWW.
Fuck. Leslie and Brennan are in another bed, just down the way. Brennan is under the covers, just his feet sticking out (ew) and Leslie complains in an annoyed tone that she doesn’t allow “that”. Um, wait, what? Brennan reminds her she allowed it last week. This is odd. Why the fuck would you turn down oral from a guy?? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, LESLIE? Okay, maybe Brennan is really fucking bad at it, I can see that. [JC: 1) I’m convinced I’ve given women more orgasms than he has. 2) You just know this guy’s idea of oral is violently tonguing the urethra for two minutes, then getting annoyed that the woman hasn’t gotten off. 3) He’s definitely still chomping on that goddamn gum, and I’m so worried about it getting stuck in this poor girl’s pubes. Assuming pubes were still in style in the 80s. Was this the era of the landing strip? I can’t decide if this is something I want in my search history or not.] [bat… I wanna say since it was mid-80s, it’s plausible on the landing strip? But not positive.] [Wing: I took one for the team and confirmed, yes, this was the time of the landing strips. Also, JC, your description of his oral style had me shoving the computer away in horror, so congratulations, I’m not sure I’ve ever done that before.]
Across the aisle from Brennan and Leslie, the only sane couple in the store are Allison and Ferdy. Who are dressed, sitting next to each other on a couch, and watching a old 50s horror monster flick on TV. BASICALLY I AM ALLISON. Although I would not gasp in fright when the giant fake crab monster blows up and bury my face in Ferdy’s shoulder. Good god, woman. (Seriously, though, I went to a friend’s house in high school, there were a bunch of us and we decided to watch Event Horizon. If you’ve ever seen that movie, you know how fucked up it is. [JC: One of my faves!] During one particular scene, I was the only female who actually looked at the screen, and I honest to god said “COOL!” while all the rest freaked the fuck out. If I know something’s going to freak me out, I tend to avoid it. I am not a good date to take to horror movies. I won’t go or I will not do exactly what Allison is doing.)
Allison admits she scares easily and Ferdy confesses he should have warned her, he’s seen this film a few times. OKAY I REALLY WANT ALLISON AND FERDY TO ESCAPE WITH THEIR LIVES. I like them more than I thought I would. Ferdy offers Allison some more wine but Allison accuses him of trying to get her drunk. Hey, hold up Allison, stop being paranoid. Ferdy confesses more, oh no, that Greg fixed him up with Allison so he wouldn’t squeal to uncle Sid. He admits he did not know he would be fixed up with someone so, um, “nice”. Ugh. Dude. They having a nice moment, when…
…I’m not sure which one of them it is, I’m betting on Leslie, but anyway, “OH GOD, OH GOD, YOU’RE THE KING!” a woman shouts. Yeah, okay, a big part of me wants to check out and stop watching, but I haven’t quit a recap yet. Allison says she’s having a nice time but HOW? HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU HAVING A NICE TIME WHEN THREE COUPLES ARE LITERALLY HAVING SEX ON SHOW ROOM FURNITURE ALL AROUND YOU?
Oh shit. No, Ferdy! NO NO! He offers to take Allison home, since the mall is going to “seal up” in about an hour. Phew, okay, we’re okay. Allison gets daring and tosses her cup, which lands in a bucket perfectly (?) and says she’d rather spend some more time with Ferdy. She takes off his glasses and they start to kiss. On the TV, the films shows the couple looking away in horror, talking about someone giving his life up to apparently save them, just before the film ends. IS THIS FORESHADOWING?? IS FERDY GOING TO DIE TO SAVE ALLISON?? I DON’T LIKE THIS.
ZOMG! I should have made the connection when I skimmed the wiki article but I didn’t. Chopping Mall was produced by Julie Corman, wife of Roger Corman, who I shouldn’t have to explain on a website devoted to all kinds of horror things. [JC: There it is! I was waiting for you to make the connection!] [bat: I’m slow sometimes lol] [Wing: Because we don’t judge around here (well, our readers, at least), for those who don’t recognise the name, think classics like The Little Shop of Horrors, The Wasp Woman, Poe adaptations, etc.] Anyway, in the mall “proper”, a janitor mops the floor with disgusting chocolate-milk-colored water. And that janitor is none other than Dick Miller, who appeared as a character actor in over 180 films, and I would recognize him anywhere because I love his garbage man in The ‘burbs. [JC: If you’ve ever seen a Joe Dante flick, you’ve seen Dick Miller. Non-Joe-Dante-related, but I just rewatched Tales from the Crypt Presents Demon Knight a couple nights ago, and Dick Miller is heavily featured there, so Hi! again!] [bat: FUN FACT: I’ve met Joe Dante. He was a special guest at a 35mm screening of The ‘burbs a few years ago. It was a fantastic evening.] In Chopping Mall, he is Walter, the janitor. Another couple of janitors walk by and jokingly tease him about whatever he’s cleaning. Apparently it’s bad? Perhaps puke? Either way, I duly noted ALL OF THEM are wearing ID badges that should prevent the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots from murdering them.
One of the janitors goes on to tease Walter about being locked up in the mall. Oh really? Walter insists he’ll be out of the mall in ten minutes. The other janitors walk away, still chuckling. Walter mops and honestly it looks like a huge spill of milkshakes on the floor, Walter grumbling away. Uh oh, the ominous music cue has started. The fact those goddamn robots are so fucking loud should be an instant clue something bad is about to happen, because you cannot tell me everyone in the movie is deaf and cannot hear them approach. [JC: They are SO LOUD. I don’t understand how nobody hears them until it’s too late. Also, you will never convince me that Walter isn’t just literally mopping the floor with milkshakes. There is no water in that bucket; there is only milkshake.] [bat: His milkshake brought the murderbots to the MALL PROPER.]
But there it is, approaching Walter from behind, Walter totally deaf and oblivious to it. LIES. The robot slows its roll, then speeds up to knock the bucket of nasty water over to splash on Walter’s shoes. OH SO THAT’S WHAT IT TAKES TO GET YOUR ATTENTION, WALTER.
Oh Walter, calling a murderous robot a clumsy son of a bitch and threatening to throw it on the scrap pile? Bad move. The robot semi-politely asks to see Walter’s ID badge. Walter’s tone is threatening. The robot warns him to not make any sudden moves. Well, that just sets Walter off even more. Walter holds up the mop in a threatening manner. Robot shoots one of its tasers out and “misses” (duh, it’s on purpose, this shit writes itself) and the taser lands in the puddle. Walter continues to insult the robot, jokingly saying he’s the same as the robot, he just works here, and half shows the robot his ID badge.
When the robot doesn’t respond, Walter cracks about how he knew they’d be trouble but before he can raise the mop to hit the robot, the taser is electrified and zaps the fuck out of Walter. (Called it.) We get a hilarious drawn skeleton and fake lightning effects as Walter is electrocuted. The scene is also very poorly edited! One shot Walter is flailing around. On the closeups of his foot in the puddle, no movement. Good job, editor!
Walter falls down dead, the body smoking. Robot says, “Thank you. Have a nice day.” and rolls away. I think this is their catch phrase that’s supposed to be funny, and maybe it was in 1986, but it’s really not in 2020. [JC: LIES! I laughed every time! I was clearly more susceptible to this movie’s humor than you were.] [bat: I am so jaded LOL Maybe I’m also still recovering from the “humor” of the last “horror-comedy” I recapped.] [Wing: I am now laughing at the thought of JC laughing, so this is going well.]
Oh ha ha ha! We zoom in on Walter’s smoking body as Brennan admonishes Leslie for smoking, as it’s bad for her health. Leslie is digging through her purse, trying to find her cigarettes. Brennan tries to tempt her into another sexual act but Leslie wants her damn cigarette. (Also, dudes who wear their watches and/or socks during sex? Yuck.) Brennan thinks someone left a pack of Camels under the register. Cripes, Leslie, she bitches and says she only smokes Virgin Lights. (I think that’s what she says? I think it’s just a play on Virginia Slims.) Brennan wants to know what she expects, him to go buy a pack? “There’s a machine down by the phones,” Leslie traces her fingers over his chest coyly. Oh well, I’m guessing Brennan is the next victim?
Sure enough, Brennan is out of the display bed and pulling on his pants. He complains Leslie always gets her way. “When I’m happy, everybody is happy.” Leslie, you’re a bitch. Brennan asks for his badge. OH MY GOD HE’S STILL CHEWING THAT GUM?? DISGUSTING. Leslie continues to be a bitch but Brennan gets his badge, and Leslie totally flashes her tits at him, telling him to hurry back.
I’m beginning to question whether or not this film is basically Cinemax-level porn. Because, seriously. [JC: It’s from Roger Corman’s company, so . . . yes.] [bat: I realized… after the fact… yeah…]
Brennan totally walks through the store, past everyone else fucking or whatever they’re up to, and unlocks the doors, stepping into the MALL PROPER. It takes some major effort to zip his jeans. [Wing: (a) He’d goddamn better be that hung for what she puts up with. (b) And his jeans are open again later.] He heads down the… aisle? towards the cigarette machine, ID badge in hand. I guess I have to give it to him, he remembered the ID badge. So on some level Brennan is aware of the
killer PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots.
It takes a stupid amount of time for Brennan to reach the cigarette machine and of course, he immediately complains that a pack of cigarettes are a “buck and a quarter” (What are they up to now, $5 and change? More? [JC: I smoked Newports in 1998ish, and they were $2.11 with tax. So quit yer bitchin, Brennan. Also don’t ask me why I remember that exact price. My brain is weird.] [Wing: I was paying like $6 a pack for my cigarettes around 2010. Of course, this was after flavoured cigarettes were hit with a lot of legislation and in order to sell the menthol cloves I smoked, they had to sell them as cigarillos, but that just means I was paying like $6 for ten and not twenty. Also, sometimes I miss smoking, and this movie and recap make up one of those times.]) We get a bit of sneaky “bad guy POV” which is funny, because it’s fucking established those PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots make a ton of noise and there’s no noise.
Brennan seems to think someone’s behind him – probably Leslie (yep, I was right again) – but he doesn’t really step out far enough to see for sure. That’s when the goddamn payphone rings and scares both Brennan and I. He actually answers, [Wing: W H Y?! You are in the mall after hours! You don’t want to get caught! Why are you answering a public phone?!] and mumbles something about no messages before hanging up. He returns to attempting to work the cigarette machine but stops to finger comb his mullet, before he realizes one of the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots is sitting right there.
Okay. I’m going to throw it out there. I think the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots are using the phone system.
“May I see your identification badge?” The PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robot rolls closer. “Geez you little bastards are quiet,” Brennan remarks, backing up, and I CALL LIES. Brennan produces his badge, holds it out for the robot to scan, and grumbles “Klaatu, barada nikto!” at it. (The fact that I can spell that phrase and know what it means without googling it should tell you something about me. My mother adores Gort. [JC: My first exposure to it was in Army of Darkness, and Sam Raimi claiming he borrowed it from Masters of the Universe. Then I saw The Day the Earth Stood Still and was very confused at Raimi’s assertion it was from MotU. Was he mistaken, or did they steal it, too?] [bat: They stole it. TDTESS is from 1951.] [JC: Oh, I know. I’ve never seen Masters, so I just wondered if that line is also in it, or if Raimi is completely mistaken about what movie he took it from.]) Brennan puts his badge back in his pocket but the robot rolls forward, raising the front pair of its spindly pinchy-handed arms.
Uh oh, Brennan. You sassed the murderbot.
Backing Brennan into the corridor, Brennan tries to use the exit doors only to find them locked. Robot fires a sleep dart, successfully taking down Brennan. He falls to the ground, going unconscious. We see the pinchy-hand reach for his throat…
…and smash cut to Leslie wandering out into the MALL PROPER, shutting the sliding glass doors of the furniture store behind herself. She calls for Brennan, telling him he’s an ass and she’s not in the mood for games. LESLIE NEEDS HER NICOTINE! Apparently this is enough to draw attention from Allison and Ferdy, while we can see Greg and Suzie “wrestling” under the covers in the display bed behind them.
Allison asks what’s up with Brennan and Leslie, so Ferdy explains that they basically fuck and fight. Okay. I can see that. Ferdy adds they only have roughly 15 minutes before the mall goes into lock down. Allison thanks him (?) and Ferdy switches off the TV, smiling at her. Okay.
Back to Leslie’s ass, which we’re getting a closeup on, as she wanders down the MALL PROPER. She reaches the corridor with the cigarette machine but the lights have been turned off, so she cannot see BRENNAN’S BODY CLEARLY PROPPED UP BESIDE THE CIGARETTE MACHINE. All she sees are the doors have been messed with. I don’t know how the fuck to believe she cannot see Brennan’s leg, WHICH IS RIGHT THERE, but she doesn’t and she nearly trips over it as she walks into the corridor.
Now that she nearly tripped over him, she pulls on Brennan’s arms, demanding he wake up, that she doesn’t need this crap. She finally tugs hard enough that his body falls forward into the light, revealing his throat has been… well, I think it’s supposed to be cut. Because that is one of the poorest throat slashings I’ve ever seen. [JC: I literally laughed out loud at the terrible flap of prosthetic skin glued above the slash. Then I immediately worried that my laughter was going to wake up Boyfriend and I’d have to explain why I was laughing at a forty-year-old teenager’s slashed throat.] [Wing: … did you have to explain that? Because I, for one, would love to hear that explanation.]
Leslie screams and the doors burst open to reveal the murderbot hiding behind them. For some reason this makes Brennan’s slashed throat gush blood. Like… that’s not how that works. THAT’S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS!
Screaming while she flees, I love that there’s a cut in the film so the robot doesn’t actually drive over Brennan’s extended leg, because that’s totally what would have happened. And now the murderbot is firing laser bolts at Leslie. [Wing: WHY DO THEY HAVE (FRICKIN) LASERS?!] It misses 95% of the time before it hits her in the back, twice in a row, but either the laser is set at a low voltage or it doesn’t do shit, because Leslie is still on her feet, running and screaming. HOW DOES NO ONE HEAR THIS?! Oh, right, everyone’s goddamn hard of hearing in this film.
Another laser bolt hits Leslie in the ass but she’s still not stopped. Suddenly she’s reached the outside of the furniture store, where everyone else has gathered, thankfully wearing clothing. Leslie stops, lets out a piercing scream, and the murderbot fires a final laser bolt, which EXPLODES HER HEAD. LIKE HOLY SHIT THAT FUCKING EXPLODED. [JC: Eh, Scanners did it better.]
Also, it apparently sprayed Leslie’s blood all over the glass doors but from the blood spray pattern, that’s bullshit, because it’s been clearly dribbled on and left to run down the glass, not sprayed on. Plus her body isn’t remotely close to the doors to have done that.
THAT’S NOT HOW ANY OF THIS WORKS! ALL I ASK IS FOR A MODICUM OF REALITY IN MY HORROR MOVIES BUT I BARELY EVER GET ANY. [JC: If it’s any consolation, your capslock rage is giving me joy.] [bat: It seems to give every other recapper on this site joy, so you’re in good company.]
All the party goers stare on in horror. The murderbot rolls in towards Leslie’s headless corpse. It says “Thank you, have a nice day.” (THAT’S GOING TO GET SO FUCKING OLD FAST. [JC: Nope, still laughing at it.]) then announces itself as #1. That’s when another PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robot rolls into view. “Oh my god there’s another one!” Thank you, Linda, for pointing out the obvious. #2 is here, come to survey #1’s kill.
And here’s where, yet again, shit goes off the rails. The PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots can “see” everybody through the glass doors. The roll closer, sending everyone fleeing. Now, the store is not the MALL PROPER, so the fact the robots roll in and fire their lasers and the glass doors explode, THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WORKS.
Oh, how nice, #1 and #2 have differently colored laser bolts!
Oh, and the murderbots have just totally rolled right on into the furniture store, firing laser bolts. They have Imperial Stormtrooper accuracy, so of course they can’t hit their targets. Greg and Suzie land on a couch, Suzie screaming in terror. Allison and Ferdy jump onto a table just as a bolt explodes a bunch of pillows, sending the couple crashing onto a glass table, which breaks into a million shards. Uh huh.
The murderbots are real good at exploding soft furnishings and lamps and TVs but not at hitting humans. They keep rolling deeper into the store but I don’t remember the store being that deep, because by now the humans should be in the back part of the store, behind doors, but they’re not.
Yes, tip over a table at the murderbots, Rick. Wholly effective.
The remaining six humans gather at the doors to the back area of the store. I don’t know why we needed that over-dramatic shot of the crystal chandelier falling but there you go. WAIT WAIT WAIT HOLD UP THERE’S ONLY FIVE HUMANS. I can’t tell if that’s Greg or Rick! Ferdy is trying to make the phones work while the others lock the doors and stack boxes to barricade themselves in.
TWO QUESTIONS: WHY ARE THE MURDERBOTS LASERS STRONG ENOUGH TO EXPLODE LESLIE’S HEAD BUT NOT DAMAGE A DOOR – a door that doesn’t remotely look metal – AND HOW ARE CARDBOARD BOXES STRONG ENOUGH TO STOP MURDERBOTS?
Okay one question is answered, suddenly the missing man shows up. I don’t know what happened there. But in the long run, everyone can suddenly hear perfectly now because the metal security doors are slamming shut all through out the mall. YOU ARE ALL SEALED IN FOR THE NIGHT, SUCKERS.
For fun there’s a shot of a murderbot’s shadow rolling in, flexing its pinchy-claw hand, just before the security doors slam shut. YOU’RE IN THERE WITH THEM, PEOPLE! [JC: I love the pinchy-claw hands. They’re adorable. Like, Aww, you’re flailing your little pinchy hands at me!]
Greg informs everybody the security doors don’t open until 6am. So… math…. 10pm to 6am… 8 hours to survive the three murderbots? Did I do that right? Suzie is panicking while redressing, Greg insists they’ll get out, Ferdy announces the phone lines are dead, and Allison points at the air duct as a means of escape. [JC: Yup. Human sized air ducts. I totally believe these exist, because the movies wouldn’t lie to me, WOULD THEY.]
Okay so maybe they have a chance.
Ferdy says they can take the air duct down to the parking levels and they’re “outta here!” I have questions. Everyone scrambles and the first to go up into the air duct is Suzie. Are you sure that’s a good idea? She was just having a meltdown.
HEY WAIT A MINUTE. Now the doors to the back area are shown to be metal, which apparently stops the murderbots. But not true, as one murder bot puts putty [JC: Did you mean “marshmallow creme”? Because there’s no way that’s not marshmallow creme.] [bat: I had to rewind it a couple of times because I was convinced it was whipped cream.] on a hinge before sending a taser dart into the putty. Fuckers are going to blow the hinges!! HOW ARE THEY REMOTELY THIS SMART??? Second murderbot proceeds to the “alternate access”, whatever that is.
Suzie and Linda are in the air duct. Allison is next to join them, giving Ferdy a long last look. He smiles in a sad but loving way. DON’T MAKE ME FEEL BAD FOR THESE MORONS. She barely makes it in before the muderbot blows the doors right off their hinges. Okay, why did that laser bolt literally bounce off Ferdy’s back? HOW DO THESE LASERS EVEN WORK?!
The guys run into another part of the storage area as the murderbot rolls on in, firing laser bolts and missing. Up in the air duct, it’s become apparent the heat has been turned on (or, at the very least, the air conditioning has been turned off) because all the women are complaining about how hot it is. Suzie is convinced the murderbots know they’re in the ducts and are trying to fry them. I guess the heat is on, as the metal of the ducts is so hot they can barely touch it. Allison tells the others to pull their sleeves down over the hands for protection.
Suzie starts to lose her shit but Allison has become the defacto leader and tells her to keep going. Yeah, it’s going to suck if Allison doesn’t survive this.
Downstairs (?) the guys have escaped the murderbot long enough to enter the MALL PROPER. They all realize they need to weaponize themselves so they run to the sporting goods store, Peckinpah’s. For some reason, deep in my brain, I recognize this name. I don’t know why. We’ve never had one here. Weird. [JC: Are you maybe associating it with famous director, Sam Peckinpah? Because this was actually a reference to him and the violence in his movies.] [bat: *consults wiki* That could be it? I’ve heard of Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia though I have never seen it, so I would highly suspect I have picked up the name through social media osmosis. Because I’ve never seen any of that dude’s films.]
“Don’t worry, I’ve got the keys!” Rick cries, breaking the entire glass frontage of the sporting goods store. [JC: THAT WAS NOT A KEY, SIR, THAT WAS A CROWBAR!] Yeah. I guess this is the “comedy” part. Where’s that third murderbot? For that matter, where’s the other two?? Yeah, the guys totally have time to just casually break glass and wander into a sporting goods store.
AND OH LOOK, THE GUNS ARE ALL RIGHT THERE DISPLAYED IN THE OPEN, EASY ACCESS. Yeah, I know, this is 1985/86 but c’mon. C’mon! Shotguns and shells for everybody! [Wing: I have been in gun shops recently that were pretty much the same easy access, so … you coastal people, psh.] (I have finally hit the midpoint of this movie and I wish it was over 20 minutes ago.) Cue montage of locking and loading. Complete with Rick saying, “Let’s go send those fuckers a Rambo-gram!” HA HA HA.
Oh my god, this is so very much an 80s movie, with the inspiring uplifting music cue while the heroes walk in formation down the MALL PROPER, holding weapons and preparing to battle murderbots. I guess they don’t trust Ferdy with a rifle; he’s got a propane tank in one hand and possibly a pistol in the other. Rick and Greg look like grown up Frog Brothers, with multiple rifles and assault weapons crisscrossed over their chests.
Apparently, Ferdy knows how to shoot a pistol because he saw Dirty Harry 24 times. Now, I’ve watched nearly every episode of 24, its TV movie, the mini series, and the reboot. Do I think I could handle a gun like Jack Bauer? Fuck no. I’m not stupid.
Seriously, though, they’re standing in the MALL PROPER! Do the murderbots not sense them?? ARE THE MURDERBOTS PLAYING A LONG CON TO TRICK THE HUMANS?? Oh fucking hell, Rick fires off three rounds from the shot gun. “One of them might have heard that.” I SHOULD THINK SO, GREG, BUT EVERYONE IN THIS MOVIE SEEMS TO HAVE COLLECTIVE HEARING LOSS.
This is sad but I’m starting to miss Brennan. Not his fucking gum smacking but I have a thing for hot jerks and at least he was eye candy. I need help, man. [JC: Whereas I, on the other hand, found his face extremely punchable and don’t miss him at all.] [bat: Hi, you really haven’t met me, I love 98% of the asshole characters Sutherland plays and can’t stand when he’s a “good guy” – unless he’s a bad dude with a good heart. I have a problem. I’m sure Wing and Dove can totally fill you in on it.] [JC: I’m definitely picking up on it as we go!]
HARK! THE LOUD VROOM OF A MURDERBOT! Rick tells the others to steady then “Go for it!” They unleash a barrage of gunfire. None of which seems to affect, let alone hit, the murderbot, that is steadily vrooming towards them. Hey, how come they didn’t take into account a different murderbot could sneak up behind them? BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT I’M THINKING ABOUT.
Shit, the murderbot is literally firing the laser bolts between them. THIS IS TERRIBLE. it advances so close the guys finally realize, HEY TAKING COVER MIGHT BE AN IDEA and they dive behind planters. Wow, the thought process on display.
HOLY FUCK THEY JUST PULLED A JAWS! Ferdy threw the propane tank in front of the murderbot while Rick steps out and fires at it, exploding it. There’s a lot of smoke and sparks, but was it even the tiniest bit effective? *waits pensively*
NOOOOOOOO THEY SMASH CUT BACK TO THE WOMEN WITHOUT TELLING ME IF THE MURDERBOT WAS DISABLED OR NOT!! UNFAIR!!
(Okay, one point for the editor, creating suspense.)
As I said, back in the air ducts, Linda and Allison are valiantly crawling along like their lives depend on it while Suzie fucking melts down, crying and raving on about how Greg needs her. Allison remains calm enough to be polite about her friend’s emotional meltdown and reminds her that they need to head to the parking garage.
OOO SMASH CUT BACK TO THE ACTUAL ACTION!
The smoke clears enough for Ferdy and Greg to come out from behind the planters, sharing looks with Rick. They slowly approach the murderbot, which makes a sick mechanical sound, before they all fire at it again, the noise stopping. They continue their advancement towards the downed murderbot.
Suzie has reached breaking point, snapping at Linda and announcing she is ditching the path through the air ducts. Allison asks her to stop but Suzie turns back and kicks out a screen, which leads into an area I cannot identify based on visuals.
BUT BACK TO THE ACTUAL ACTION. The guys have reached the (seemingly) dead murderbot. “What’s that?” “Robot blood!” I think you mean OIL, dude. Possibly hydrolic fluid. Greg reminds Ferdy there’s “two more of these suckers” running around the mall. Rick wants more propane tanks, as he has an idea. [JC: . . . is the idea to roll the tanks up to the Killbots and shoot them? You know, like you just did?]
Oh shit. Suzie has gotten Linda and Allison to come with her. Fuck. They’re wandering around in a storage area while Linda announces this as a bad idea. Suzie screams, “Bullshit!” and keeps stomping her way to find Greg, who seriously doesn’t need her. Suzie insists the guys could be hurt and she has to find them. See, at this point, I’d be like EVERY PERSON FOR THEMSELVES and focus on getting my ass to safety. Yes, I would help people, but doubling back into a mall where MURDERBOTS ARE ROAMING FREELY is not a smart idea.
Whatever storage / back room they’re in, there’s a pile of gasoline cans. How can those be full? That’s a fire hazard!
Back in the MALL PROPER, one of the murderbots stops in front of a shoe store and looks around, before vrooming on its way. It appears to be #2, the one that ran off to block the alternative exit or whatever. It backs itself into a side corridor and turns off its lights. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that #3 is the one the guys took down. #1 and #2 seem to be the “smart” murderbots in this scenario.
The guys, with more tanks of propane, run to an elevator. Ferdy frantically pushes the button but it seems to be turned off. Well, duh, the mall is closed. Instead of taking the stairs, WHERE THE MURDERBOTS COULDN’T GO BECAUSE OF THEIR TREADS, the guys decide to pry open the elevator doors. WTF.
Ferdy has a worry. He thinks the murderbots can read human minds. Huh? Well, they got the elevator doors open, so now they’re climbing up the elevator shaft, which if I am looking at it correctly, is glass fronted on the backside, SO THE MURDERBOTS CAN SEE YOU, YOU FUCKING IDIOTS.
Back to the women! Firstly, I have real problems believing that a store would be allowed to house METAL GAS CANS FULL OF GASOLINE in a goddamn mall. Maybe things were different in 1985 but I have a real problem with that? I mean, the propane tanks are ALSO PROBLEMATIC but I keep having to tell myself “IT’S A FUCKING MOVIE, BAT!” just to get through.
ANYWAY. Linda is teaching Allison and Suzie to make… Molotov cocktails? Maybe? I mean, they’re sticking rags in the gas cans and Linda instructs them to “light it and throw it”. Linda reminds them: “Regular or unleaded, it gets the job done!” HA ha ha. How many children these days know we use to have leaded gasoline? (I do, but I am not a child.)
Allison notices a display for road flares. “Why get caught in a dangerous situation?” it asks. HA HA HA. The laughs keep on coming. Allison grabs a single flare and stuffs it down her shirt. [JC: You do what you have to do when the manufacturers of women’s clothing don’t want to give us functional pockets.] HEY WAIT why aren’t you showing Linda? I mean, Suzie is unstable so I get that, but c’mon!
Back over at the site of the kill, the “dead” murderbot slowly comes back to life. It pushes itself up on its spindly arms, struggling to right itself. [JC: Aw, poor lil guy! It’s like a turtle trying to get itself off its back!] I WAS WRONG! IT’S #1!!! It announces itself back online! OH SHIT. NOW THE MUDERBOT IS PISSED.
On top of the elevator car, Greg and Rick are wiring the propane tanks (?) while Ferdy messes with the electronics of the call button. Huh? Is the plan to lure the murderbot into the elevator and blow it up? Because this seems… destined to fail. I mean, they have no idea #1 is back online, so… Greg wonders if Brennan got out. I HAVE SOME BAD NEWS, GREG.
To lighten the mood, Greg remembers he owes Rick money for the beer. “If we get out of here, you owe me a six-pack.” Rick laughs. HA HA HA! You’re all gonna die!
I’m kind of at a loss on what exactly they’re doing here. Ferdy says they can’t control the elevator’s direction, only the computer controls that. (Why is this entire mall controlled by a computer? HOW FUCKING STUPID IS THAT?) Greg asks Ferdy if he hears something. YET AGAIN, NO. BECAUSE HALF THE TIME, EVEN WITH ALL THE RACKET THE MURDERBOTS MAKE, THEY TOTALLY CAN SNEAK UP ON ANYBODY.
FOR ABSOLUTELY NO REASON AT ALL (???) #2 switches on and comes zooming out of the corridor it was hiding in. Suzie begins to scream. When the fuck she and the others reached the MALL PROPER, it was never shown. Greg and Rick hear Suzie’s screaming. NO ONE but fucking Suzie is screaming and my god she’s fucking hysterical. Linda grabs her and pulls her behind a planter, while Allison crouches behind another. They have the makeshift gas can bombs with them.
Allison lights one and literally throws it like a bowling ball at #2. The ground erupts in flames, Suzie screams AGAIN (slap her already, Linda) and it appears that fire does not stop the murderbots. DUH.
The guys are on the move! Running through the MALL PROPER (I will never tire of typing that! [JC: The 🎉MALL PROPER🎉] [bat: THAT’S IT, THAT’S THE TAG!]) looking for the women. I can’t tell if they’re even on the same floor. Everything is edited so weirdly so you never know what fucking floor of the mall you’re on. #2 rolls through the flames, forcing the women to flee. They manage to take most of the gas can bombs with them.
#2 begins to fire its laser bolts, finally managing to hit Suzie in the back of the knee. She goes down, still screaming. At this point, I want her to die so I don’t have to listen to her screams. [JC: I love Barbara Crampton, but yeah, this is annoying as fuck. Just die, Suzie.] Linda and Allison hide behind conveniently placed planters. Suzie is exposed, and seriously #2 could just totally roll right over her but no, it slows down, firing its laser bolts repeatedly, HITTING NOTHING.
Linda yells to Allison that they have to help Suzie. Unfortunately, neither of them move, they know Suzie is as good as dead. Sure enough, #2 intones its “Thank you. Have a nice day.” just before it fires a bolt at the gas can in Suzie’s hand, causing it to explode. If I thought she was screaming before, she’s really screaming now that she’s on fire.
I get it, you know there’s a murderbot sitting right there but Linda and Allison watching Suzie burn to death, struggling to get to her feet and crawl away while on fire, it’s kind of disturbing. Also, way to keep continuity, that murderbot keeps moving farther away instead of, you know, being practically on top of Suzie.
Oh look, it’s the Calvary. Greg is not gonna be happy about this. OH FINALLY, SUZIE STOPPED SCREAMING, I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE WAS STILL SCREAMING BECAUSE SHE WOULD BE INHALING FIRE AND FUMES AND BURNING HER LUNGS BUT SHE’S DOWN FOR THE COUNT, BLAZING AWAY! And Greg has noticed his girlfriend is the victim. Bummer, dude. You can do better.
Greg pumps multiple shotgun shells… at? towards? the murderbot. I swear to god, they haven’t learned shit, these murderbots are impervious to ammunition! Rick and Ferdy join in, firing away, until Linda and Allison flee. Rick tells Ferdy to go with the women. I mean, that handgun is useless. Rick finally realizes the guns are useless and it’s just as well because it seems like Greg has jammed the shotgun.
BUT WHAT REALLY MAKES ME MAD IS THE GODDAMN MURDERBOT HAD CLEAN, CLEAR SHOTS TO TAKE AND NEVER FIRED A SINGLE LASER BOLT!
Ferdy, Allison, and Linda are running like hell and make it around the elevator shaft. Rick and Greg, hotly pursued by the murderbot – WHO IS STILL NOT FIRING LASER BOLTS WTF – are running as fast as they can through the MALL PROPER. Now they’re trying to run while firing the guns, the bullets ricocheting off the metal skin of the murderbot. At this point, I am rooting for no one. Maybe Allison. But even then… [JC: I’m rooting for the Killbots. I welcome our robot overlords.]
Ah! Ferdy and the women have climbed the escalator, since it’s nothing more than stairs when it’s turned off. [Wing: I kept waiting for the murderbots to turn one back on but going the wrong way or something, have someone sucked into them. Maybe get a piece of clothing caught so they strangle themselves. My escalator concerns, let me show them to you.] Rick and Greg have reached the elevator. Rick tosses his rifle to Greg, entering the elevator and pulling open the access hatch, as the doors close. Ferdy, the women, and now Greg, reached a point in the MALL PROPER where they can see the top of the elevator, where Rick checks the propane tanks. Murderbot FINALLY uses its laser bolt and shoots the call button, forcing the elevator doors open. (WTF?!) It enters the elevator car and has enough room to turn around so it’s facing the doors. This… this seems odd.
Linda screams for Rick. Ferdy’s standing there, aiming the handgun like he’s a cheap Clint Eastwood ripoff. Rick leaps from the top of the elevator, clears the metal railing and does a somersault to land safe on the floor, just as Greg and Ferdy begin firing away at the propane tanks.
WHICH THEY CAN’T FUCK HIT OH MY GOD YOU ARE ALL IMPERIAL STORMTROOPERS
Allison, who face it is the best fucking character in this film at this point, grabs the handgun from Ferdy, puts a foot on the rail to steady herself, and fires the gun, exploding the propane tanks. The elevator doesn’t explode, it just drops very quickly to the bottom of the tower. There’s a lot of smoke. And confusion, probably on my part. BECAUSE THAT DOESN’T SEEM LIKE IT WAS DESIGNED TO DO SHIT TO A MURDERBOT.
“Nice shot!” Ferdy exclaims.
“Dad’s a Marine.” Allison explains.
Linda and Rick look at each other, glad the other is safe. But for how long? There’s no confirmation that whole ridiculous explosion disabled the murderbot. We know one came back from the “dead” already. And there’s still two running around!
BUT WHO CARES! WE’VE GONE TO THE RESTAURANT WHERE ALLISON AND SUZIE WORK(ed)! Everyone’s taking a rest, Greg’s drinking, I’m really shocked the murderbots haven’t rolled by and spied them through the glass window.
For… some reason? Perhaps comical ones? Linda has “done calculations” and if by chance they survive the night, the group will be in debt towards the mall – for all the destruction – for roughly 85 years. Yeah well did you learn that holding an after-hours party in a goddamn mall is not worth it?
Uh huh, yeah, doing nearly 3 million tune-ups, and “raising your rates” is not going to help you pay back all the damages, Rick. Oh wait, I’m supposed to laugh, right? This is the “funny” part! [JC: I did laugh! Think of all those tune-ups, bat! It’s too many! More than any person could do in a single lifetime! And such an inappropriate time to be doing these calculations!]
Rick congratulates Allison on good shooting, calling her “dead-eye”. Greg just wants to know why the fuck the women left the air shaft. I CAN TELL YOU, GREG, IT WAS ALL SUZIE’S FUCKING FAULT. Well at least Allison is honest, since Linda can’t even look at Greg. Allison explains Suzie thought Greg was in trouble and just “wanted to help”. WELL LOOK WHERE THAT GOT HER.
Oh boy, infighting! Greg is mad that Allison and Linda didn’t stop Suzie. Ferdy tries to defend Allison, Greg snaps at him. Rick is forced to intervene when Greg aims the shotgun at Ferdy. He wants them to keep it down, because DUH, there’s MURDERBOTS IN THE MALL PROPER.
[Wing: I understand that part of storytelling is slowing down the pace to give the audience a breather, but I promise, it hasn’t been fast paced enough for us to need this break and also THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY THE MOVIE FEELS A BILLION YEARS LONG GET ON WITH IT.]
Huh, they think only one murderbot is left. I’VE GOT NEWS FOR YOU GUYS! For some reason Linda doesn’t know there’s another one? What the? And Greg has snapped, just like Suzie, insisting the murderbot(s) are out there, waiting to pick the survivors off one by one. I mean, he’s not wrong…
So Greg insists he’s not going to get taken out by a murderbot. Rick tries to talk sense and logic into Greg, saying they’ve gotten this far together. Well, I seem to remember you SPLITTING UP way back when but no one seems to remember that. Greg snaps that sticking together did real good for Suzie. (IT WAS SUZIE’S OWN FAULT SHE DIED, JACKASS.)
HOLD UP! FERDY HAS AN IDEA! He remembers the master computer is on the third level. AGAIN, HOW THE FUCK IS THIS MALL DIVIDED UP, THAT MAP WAS CONFUSING AND I AM SO LOST. He insists if they shut the computer down, the murderbots shut down. UM. I DON’T THINK SO, FERDY.
“Computer, huh? Let’s go trash the fucker.” Well, Greg. Yeah, that’s not going to catch on as a catch phrase.
Cue exciting music! The survivors are running through the MALL PROPER, Greg booking it like a mad man as the others yell at him to slow down and discuss how Greg is going to get them killed. I DUNNO, YOU YELLING AT HIM MAY/MAY NOT DRAW THE MURDERBOTS’ ATTENTION. IT’S HIT OR MISS IN THIS FILM.
Greg is up the escalator and turns round to inform the others the coast is clear AND THERE’S A MURDERBOT RIGHT BEHIND HIM! Its pinchy-hand grabs his arm, startling him into firing the rifle. Allison and Linda move out of the way, giving clear shots to Rick and Ferdy but it’s too late. Murderbot tosses Greg over the railing and we see him fall to his death. Wow, we even get a shot of the dummy body with its head turned to show a broken neck, as the murderbot intones “Thank you. Have a nice day.” [JC: Oh, so THAT’S what happened. I had started zoning out a little at this point and completely missed this death, which I only realized later when I started counting heads and was like, Wait, wasn’t there another dude? (I had also not bothered to learn names beyond Ferdy and Suzie.)]
The guys fire off a few round as the murderbot rolls threateningly towards the escalator – something it can’t fit on because it’s too fucking wide – before the survivors run off to go down the next set of escalators to a lower floor. Wasn’t the idea to get to the third (top?) floor to “trash the fucker”?
Just as Allison is starting down the escalator, another murderbot rolls in to block her. “HE DIDN’T KILL IT!” She screams. Murderbot #3 announces it’s going to level 2 to “detain intruders”. NOW THEY’RE MAGICALLY RIDING THE ESCALATORS WHICH ARE TOTALLY FUNCTIONING EVEN THOUGH THEY WEREN’T FIVE SECONDS AGO! WAY TO KEEP CONTINUITY, GUYS! [JC: I assume the bots can turn the power to things on and off . . . somehow. But how the fuck they fit on the damn escalators is anyone’s guess.]
#1 also heads to level 2. So I guess we’re consolidating murderbots to a single floor now? Is this a good thing? Why is there still 20 minutes of film left to watch??!
The survivors come to a metal rolling door, where Rick fires at the lock before Ferdy tries to raise it. It’s stuck. Everyone keeps looking back but there’s no sign of the murderbots. Just as they begin to get the metal rolling door up, here come the murderbots, who have ONCE AGAIN FORGOTTEN THEY HAVE LASER BOLTS THEY CAN FIRE. The shot of both murderbots vrooming down the MALL PROPER is enough to make me laugh, they look so ridiculous and not remotely threatening.
Seriously, it looks like two silly robots out for a tootle down the MALL PROPER. They just need a couple of straw boater hats and this could be Mary fucking Poppins. [JC: See? They’re cute!]
The metal door is raised enough that the survivors start sliding under it, just in the nick of time. The murderbots suddenly remember laser bolts and begin to fire away. It’s difficult to tell but I don’t think they actually hit Allison. I think it’s the bolt bouncing off the tiles that hits her arm, but either way, she’s wounded. Ferdy freaks. Everyone manages to pull the metal door down. Linda is afeared the murderbots will get through. Rick grabs a piece of metal and jams it into the pulley wheel to hinder the murderbots. I think this is all futile. The murderbots fired at the metal door but the laser bolts just bounced off. THERE IS ZERO CONSISTENCY HERE.
While the survivors flee to the back stock room, the murderbots roll up and “look” at one another. They announce an attempt to enter at “level 3”. Huh? We get shown a bunch of lighted buttons flashing on a console, which I’m assuming is the control computer, before the murderbots focus their lasers into steady beams with which they begin to cut through the metal door.
I call shenanigans.
Ferdy stops the group, who are running through a multi-level department store, and leads them up a not-running escalator. Out in the MALL PROPER, #3 is riding an escalator to level 3, searching for the survivors, while… the other murderbot is still busy laser cutting fucking triangles into the metal door. Huh? I AM SO CONFUSED. Part of the problem is the numbers on the murderbots are positioned in a way you can only read them from certain angles. So if they don’t self-identify, I have no fucking clue which is which. Ugh. This movie.
The survivors have reached the cosmetics department! Ferdy is gung-ho to raise the metal door and head to the computer. But Rick stops him, saying the murderbots could be out there. (Well, where else would they be?) Linda rips some fabric off… something?… and uses it to dress Allison’s wounded arm. [JC: It’s a . . . wedding dress . . . on a mannequin . . . in front of a perfume counter. I have no idea what’s up with this store.]
Allison, the only one with a brain, says they need to split up. Ferdy freaks out, saying the minute one of them goes out into the MALL PROPER, they’re dead. HEY WAIT A MINUTE, JUST FIVE SECONDS AGO YOU WERE TRYING TO GO RIGHT ON OUT INTO THE MALL PROPER WITH A PAUSE OR A PLAN, FERDY.
Linda snaps on Ferdy, Rick gives her a look, Ferdy apologizes for being so goddamn melodramatic. Linda sits on the floor, explaining she’s not used to being chased around a mall in the middle of the night by killer robots.
HEY. WHO IS??
Rick attempts to comfort his wife while not stabbing her with the assault rifle in his hand. Wow, awkward. Allison just stands there, giving Ferdy a look, while Ferdy stands there, looking stupid. Yay.
Murderbot is now cutting a half circle in the door. I guess triangles weren’t enough. The camera lingers on that shot for a long fucking time.
Back in the department store, Linda is napping in Rick’s arms, while Rick stares off into the distance, probably contemplating his last will and testament. Ferdy sits with his arms folded, head down, while Allison stares off in the same direction as Rick, though she’s probably thinking about why she said yes to going to this “party” when all other times she’s said no. STAY HOME AND WASH YOUR HANDS, KIDS.
[Wing: ONCE AGAIN, WE DO NOT NEED THIS GODDAMN PAUSE, MOVIE. THIS IS STUPID. WHY ARE THEY SLEEPING? WHY ARE THEY WAITING? WHAT HAPPENED TO THE COMPUTER PLAN? It’s like they cut an entire section out of the movie that dealt with that part.]
Here’s my thoughts: how many hours have passed? The mall went into total lock down at 10pm. It’s got to be well past 12am by now, we have to be closer to the 6am unlock. I know time is a flat circle and all and how time “passes” in films is usually loose and fluid, but c’mon. If you set parameters involving time, you better give me updates as to how much time has passed and how much is left.
Allison scoots over and lays her head against Ferdy’s shoulder, shocking him. He puts an arm around her and they cuddle. I mean, any storm in a port.
WELL FOR FUCK’S SAKE, IT’S ABOUT TIME! One of the murderbots has finally finished cutting through the metal door. It’s not a shape that looks like the shape(s) it was previously cutting but who cares, because it smashes into and rolls right through into the department store! I guess this means it’s the murderbot on the floor below. EVERYONE HEARS THE SOUND OF IT FOR ONCE. (Ugh.)
Ferdy thinks they should go but Rick points out that one could have doubled back and would pick them off. Someone’s finally paying attention! You might survive this! Allison announces they should give the murderbots targets, for target practice. Oh Allison, I want you to survive this! Please don’t be stupid!
Duh, Allison is talking about the (conveniently placed) mannequins!
OH MY GOD THIS IS UNINTENTIONALLY HILARIOUS. The metal door rolls up, drawing the attention the murderbot that sits outside guarding the door. It literally raises its spindly little forearms as though it were surrendering? [JC: Wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man!] But it rolls forward and we see that there’s a line of mannequins placed just inside the door. The stupid part is the humans are half-hiding behind the mannequins. When the murderbot starts to fire laser bolts, fucking Ferdy starts firing his handgun. You know, at this point, I’d settle for Allison being the final survivor. Everyone else has been stupid or continues to do stupid shit.
Huh. This murderbot has green laser bolts, where as the other two have pink/red and blue, respectively. I guess this makes this one #3? I think #1 and #3 are the only active ones. We’ve never been given the certainty of #2 being totaled by the elevator stunt.
Ferdy yells for the women to run, which they promptly do. Rick yells “Ferdy, now!” and Ferdy yanks a cloth away, revealing a trio of mirrors. The murderbot fires a bolt into a mirror and it BOUNCES BACK AND HITS THE MURDERBOT. Sparks go flying as the murderbolt becomes enveloped in fake lightning, which I guess means it’s having a total system failure. It turns around in circles, flailing all four arms, firing green laser bolts wildly. Allison flees but Linda hangs back to look for Rick, who’s run the opposite direction and is trying to fire the rifle at the malfunctioning murderbot. OKAY I HAVE COMPLAINTS AND QUESTIONS. [JC: While I have tears of laughter.] [Wing: I shrieked with laughter at this point, scaring the hell out of Monster Dog.]
How come the bolts bounce off mirrors and can damage the murderbots? WHO DO I SPEAK TO? WHERE IS YOUR MANAGER, MURDERBOT?
In a you could see this coming a mile away plot twist, Linda is hit in the middle by a green laser bolt. Like, that’s what the fuck you get when you stand in harm’s way while a murderbot is malfunctioning wildly. Ferdy and Allison look away in horror. Rick screams his dying wife’s name as we get a “yep she’s totally dead” shot of Linda’s body on the floor. Guess there will be a lot more solo tune ups in your (probably super short) future, Rick.
[Wing: LINDA NO I LOVE YOU DON’T DIE.]
WHAT THE HELL WHY IS THERE A THREE-WHEELED ELECTRIC CART JUST PARKED THERE ABANDONED IN THE MALL PROPER?? NOT PLAUSIBLE, NOT IN THE LEAST! AND NOW RICK IS DRIVING IT AS FERDY WATCHES IN HORROR WHILE ALLISON HIDES HER FACE IN HIS SHOULDER. AND THERE GOES RICK, HE PULLED A SUICIDE MISSION AND DROVE THE CART INTO THE FUCKING MALFUNCTIONING MURDERBOT AND GOT HIMSELF ELECTROCUTED.
Yeah, this is the part where I obviously have slipped entirely into capslock rage.
The murderbot stops… but somehow all the magic cartoon graphic electricity transfers onto Rick, leaving him convulsing on the tiles. Okay. I give up. Why bother being remotely realistic. It’s a movie about fucking murderbots in a goddamn mall. Why do I set the bar so high!? [JC: It does not pay to go into these things with expectations or optimism. Having said that, I can’t stop laughing at the magic cartoon graphic electricity.]
Annnnnnd that’s when the murderbot explodes. Huh. Didn’t expect that.
I guess that’s how much effort it takes to disable a PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robot. I can honestly say the mall got its money’s worth out of these, they’re nigh impossible to destroy. Bye bye, #3!
Meanwhile, Ferdy and Allison stand around and stare, instead of remembering that there’s one, if not two, of these still running around the MALL PROPER. Like, also, Rick’s body is bleeding from the torso and mouth. Huh? He was electrocuted! His flesh should at least be singed! It’s not!
Okay now it’s Ferdy’s turn to be overcome by emotion. Sigh. He sinks to sit on the ground as Allison attempts to comfort him. It’s not like she actually knew all these people. Ferdy recovers enough to say, “Let’s go find that computer!” before the last couple standing run off… in… some direction…
MURDERBOT #1 IS PISSED! IT SMASHES THROUGH A GLASS DISPLAY CASE. (why?) [JC: KILLBOT SMASH!]
Seems as though Allison and Ferdy can’t find the computer control room. Ferdy thinks it’s located off one of the service corridors. I mean, valid guess. Why not stop and read a map? MALLS ALWAYS HAVE GIANT FUCKING MAPS WITH LITTLE “YOU ARE HERE” STICKERS ON THEM. AND IN 2020 A LOT OF THEM ARE DIGITAL WITH TOUCHSCREENS. [Wing: To be fair, the mall really shouldn’t have put the computer control room on the public maps. Now, whether this mall would or not is up for debate, because, seriously, murderbots as security.]
Allison takes charge and directs Ferdy to check doors on one side of the mall while she checks others. Ferdy doesn’t want to split up. They argue but eventually split up. We watch Allison slip through a door and into a dark hallway, where she creeps along until something drops from above and swoops at her face. I honestly cannot identify what the fuck that is. It looks plastic and vaguely like a part of a machine? [JC: My first thought was “rubber Halloween spider,” but I couldn’t figure out why that was dropping from the ceiling of the bathroom. Oh, yes, I also had zoned out again and thought she was going to the bathroom for some reason. She’s not. No idea why I thought that’s what this room (hallway?) was.] [Wing: I also went with rubber Halloween spider, which means that’s probably what they used to make the motion and also is TERRIBLE FORESHADOWING FOR WING.] Allison grabs it but before we see her figure it out, we cut back to Ferdy. Who enters a similar door into a lighted corridor. (Also, does anyone else see how the nose of the handgun is bent upwards, as if it were made of plastic??)
I hate this, the movie keeps cutting back and forth between Allison and Ferdy. Allison hears a noise coming from behind a door. She grabs a (conveniently placed) length of pipe and arms herself as she slowly walks towards the door. The door goes from shut to slightly ajar, so Allison grabs it and throw it open, to reveal a huge pile of metal objects. Allison screams and swings the pipe at it, knocking pieces everywhere. I’M GONNA SAY IT, I THINK THIS IS A FAKE OUT. ONE OF THOSE MURDERBOTS IS NEARBY.
Back in the other corridor, Ferdy walks steadily with the handgun leading the way, spooking at every little noise.
Over to Allison. She pushes open one of a set of double doors, revealing a huge storage space full of furniture and display cases and other junk. I’M TELLING YOU, A MURDERBOT IS HIDING IN THERE. Like, why go in a room when it is very obviously NOT the room you seek – there is no computer in there and certainly no access to said computer control room. But Allison goes in anyway.
Ferdy makes it to through the corridor and finds a set of locked doors.
Allison is still fucking around in that storage room when, sure enough, PINCHY-HANDS SHOOT OUT AND TRY TO GRAB HER! See, this is why it’s no fun watching movies with me, I figure out shit I can see a mile away. Allison screams and the murderbot misses her. It’s now a standoff, with Allison screaming for Ferdy and the murderbot just sitting there, pinching its dumb pinchy-hand at her. YOU HAVE FUCKING LASERS YOU GODDAMN MURDERBOT, SHOOT HER ALREADY OR SOMETHING.
Ferdy comes a’running, just as the murderbot backs Allison into a pile of lattice and other junk. It still hasn’t fired on her. Ferdy bursts through the door and runs right up to the murderbot, firing directly into its “eye”. “LASER MALFUNCTION!” it yells, as Ferdy flees the room.
Question. With the amount of junk stacked in that storage room, it is very obvious to even the casual observer that those fucking squat ass murderbots would be impaired and unable to get into the room very far, unless they magically start moving the junk out of their way, which I don’t believe their spindly little pinchy-hand arms could manage. I CALL FUCKING SHENANIGANS AGAIN.
The murderbot vrooms after Ferdy, yelling “Detain intruder!” Ferdy stops long enough to fire another round or two. None of which are effective. He draws the murderbot out into the MALL PROPER, giving Allison time to regain her senses before running after them.
Oh my god, Ferdy just fucking threw the handgun at the murderbot and it bounced off with a hilarious ping sound. HA HAH AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA okay I found the one thing in this movie that truly made me laugh aloud. [JC: . . . and I must have zoned out again and completely missed this bit. This might have been around the time I was scouring IMDb, trying to figure out how the fuck I’d missed Angus Scrimm’s cameo.]
Allison reaches the end of the corridor just in time to yell, “Ferdy!” Ferdy yells for Allison to get the hell out of there, before he grabs the oldest looking fire extinguisher I’ve seen in ages and pitches it at the murderbot. It, too, bounces off. But the murderbot picks it up and throws it back at Ferdy, sending him flying backwards towards the railing.
Wait a minute. Hold up. I guess we’re on the “ground” floor, as the railing is only there to separate what is a seated area from common walk ways? So there was no chance of Ferdy falling to his death. And now I’m supposed to believe that the murderbot threw that fire extinguisher hard enough to send Ferdy falling back so hard that he cracked open his skull and died?
Because the murderbot just rolled over, we see a shot of Ferdy on the ground, a pool of blood around his head, and the murderbot just said its stupid ass catchphrase again.
I’M NOT BUYING IT.
Allison comes out of the corridor long enough to give Ferdy’s body a last look, just as the murderbot turns and vrooms after her. Like, at least this time there’s an excuse, Ferdy damaged its laser, so it literally cannot shoot Allison. But Allison still has time to outrun it. This is literally the longest game of cat and mouse, complete with weirdly heroic-sounding electronic musical score, as Allison and the murderbot wind their way through the MALL PROPER.
HAHAHA whoa, another thing I haven’t seen in a million years: a metal ashtray/garbage bin! Those used to be everywhere in malls! Allison grabs it and smashes open some glass doors. [Wing: WHY DID SHE SMASH THE TOP ONE TOO WHEN ALL SHE USES IS THE BOTTOM PART?!] OH MY GOD SHE’S IN A PET STORE. THESE USED TO BE A THING. I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MANY TIMES I USED TO GO INTO MALL PET STORES AND GET SO DEPRESSED AS A CHILD. LITERALLY ONE OF THE WORST STORES MAN “INVENTED”. [JC: Yup, not a pet supply store; a store full of puppy mill puppies and kittens. We still have at least one of these types of store in my city, and while they claim they don’t get their puppies from mills, I call the most serious of bullshit.] [Wing: Adopt, don’t shop. Or at the very least, don’t shop anywhere like this, though I 100% back adopting pets. ALSO IF A SINGLE FUCKING PUPPY GETS HURT I AM BURNING DOWN THIS ENTIRE MURDERBOT MALL UNIVERSE.]
The murderbot slows its roll because hey, look, broken glass. Allison knows it’s there, she slides under the built in glass-fronted cages where they keep kittens and puppies. The murderbot rolls right in the pet store. Allison tries to hide behind a single bag of puppy chow. WTF?
Although the aisle is wide enough at first, the murderbot starts to encounter obstacles, knocking glass fish tanks to the ground, shattering them. [Wing: WELL I KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING, I’LL CHECK IN AFTER THIS SCENE ENDS, TELL ME WHEN THE THINGS ARE NO LONGER THINGING.] Allison, stop making loud gasping sounds. The murderbot rolls close to where Allison hides on the floor but she’s well below its line of site.
FOR SOME REASON THERE ARE NOW A WHOLE BUNCH OF TARANTULAS AND A SNAKE ON THE FLOOR, ROAMING FREE. I’M SORRY, THOSE TANKS WERE EMPTY WHEN THE MURDERBOT HIT THEM AND ANYTHING IN THEM WOULD HAVE BEEN CRUSHED OR KILLED BY THE SHATTERED GLASS. THIS IS BULLSHIT. LIES!!
Allison whimpers as the tarantulas start to climb on her. This is bullshit. Now there’s snakes on her legs. ALSO BULLSHIT. The murderbot is failing to detect her presence, even though she’s less that five feet away and LOUDLY GASPING AND WHIMPERING. Eventually the murderbot backs up and vrooms away. It drives over the glass, crunching it loudly, signalling Allison she is free to flee the spiders and snakes crawling all over her.
Look, again, I’m pretty sure Dr Simon said the murderbots were limited to the MALL PROPER so the fact they keep chasing people into fucking stores, I call bullshit! [JC: I’m just relieved all the puppies and kitties survived. I was very worried the Killbot was going to murderize them all somehow in its quest for Alison.] [Wing: Oh, good, it’s safe to return and OH GOOD NO PUPPIES WERE MURDERIZED.]
Allison crawls out, no problem, and wanders out of the dark pet shop. Someone off screen, as there is no other explanation, seems to throw a cat or something at Allison, the animal screaming, making Allison scream. Of course this draws the murderbot’s attention. Allison is back in the MALL PROPER when she sees the lights and hears the murderbot vrooming in her direction.
Ha ha “SMOKE SHOP”! Things you decidedly do not see in malls these days. Hell, do most malls even exist at this point?
Allison comes to a stop, looking over a railing. HOW DID WE GET ON A HIGHER FLOOR SUDDENLY?? The murderbot vrooms in. Apparently this is where the cinema is attached into the mall. It spins around and can’t find Allison. It rolls over to the railing but still cannot find her. I mean, honestly, she could fucking outrun you, murderbot. You don’t really move all that fast.
As the murderbot rolls away, we see Allison is hanging from the railing, over the open air space. HEY! IT’S THE CIRCUS TENT O’ VALUES JUST BELOW HER! As the murderbot circles closer and gets way to close for comfort, Allison begins to lose her grip on the metal railing. Suddenly she falls and – oh my god this is so bad, that’s clearly a stunt man JUMPING from the railing, not dropping as Allison would actually do in this case – lands directly on the CIRCUS TENT O’ VALUES, which breaks her fall. [JC: Yes, when jumping off of things, make sure to land DIRECTLY ON YOUR SPINE.] Unfortunately she also screamed bloody murder as she “fell”, so the murderbot is aware something happened.
Why is the damn murderbot just sitting there?
Allison is crawling on the floor of the MALL PROPER. Murderbot, one level higher, is rolling along the MALL PROPER but apparently cannot “see” or detect her. I have finally realized what these damn murderbots remind me of. A cross between a Cylon and Tik-Tok. (NO, not the goddamn app, the robot from Return to Oz. A movie that was once nightmare fuel for a generation but now is so goddamn stupid it annoys me.)
OH MY GOD. IT’S A PLOT SAYS SO POINT. ALLISON JUST REMEMBERED SHE HAS A FUCKING ROAD FLARE IN HER SHIRT. HOW DID THAT STAY PUT ALL THIS TIME. [JC: Cleavage. Nature’s pocket.] [Wing: Damn it, not even Nature will give me pockets.]
Allison crawls along until she sees a paint store. The murderbot is picking up speed. Allison crosses her arms in front of her face and
a stuntman crashes through the glass doors without slicing herself to ribbons. Sure, Jan. She hobbles into the paint store and grabs a can, prying it open, splashing it everywhere, then another, and another. Rinse, repeat. The murderbot is vrooming like mad.
[Wing: THIS TAKES FOREVER. FOR-EV-ER. NO WONDER THIS MOVIE FELT LIKE IT WAS TWO TRILLION YEARS LONG.]
Allison grabs a can of paint thinner and opens it, pouring it on the mess before tossing the container on top. We have an action shot of the murderbot’s treads spinning like fury. Allison gets a paint can opening montage. Allison has made a huge mess of paint and paint thinner. The murderbot rounds the corner and can see her in the paint store. Allison grabs the flare and hides around a corner, not before taunting the murderbot. It crashes through the glass wall. I’m pretty sure that’s a serious violation of its programming. Not to mention wanton destruction of property.
Of course, because everyone can see this coming, the murderbot drives right into the pool of paint on the floor and gets stuck, unable to gain traction. Allison runs out the through the broken glass, just as the murderbot comes to a stop. She lights the flare and yells, “HAVE A NICE DAY!” as she tosses it into the store, which immediately and entirely BLOWS THE FUCK UP IN A HUGE EXPLOSION.
Sure. Sure, sure, sure, sure. [JC: Is paint that flammable? Serious question. I know paint thinner/turpentine is flammable as fuck, but . . . is paint equally as flammable? Wild.] [Wing: I have never successfully blown anything up when setting paint on fire, lets put it that way.]
Somehow (PLOT SAYS SO) even though she was barely a few feet from the store, Allison has survived this massive explosion. Sure. And somehow this film wants me to believe that this mall does not have automatic fire alarms and a fire suppression system in the form of sprinklers that would immediately turn on to douse flames. SURE. SURE. SURE. SURE. SURE.
We get a shot of the disabled murderbot roasting in the flames. I’m not convinced. We’ve seen these things bounce back. Sure, its neck looks “broken” but again, IT’S A HORROR MOVIE. Allison slowly picks up one of the spindly pinchy-handed arms that was blown off and thrown clean of the wreckage to land beside her. SURE.
OKAY I GUESS THE FUCKING MURDERBOT IS DEAD.
Still, the mall is literally on fire and no sprinklers, and HELLO THERE’S STILL A MURDERBOT ON THE LOOSE. HOW DOES ONE FORGET THAT? Allison crawls around the corner, until she’s able to get to her feet and hobble along the MALL PROPER. A voice calls out, “HEY!” IT’S FERDY! ALIVE! HOLDING A ROLL OF TOILET PAPER AGAINST HIS HEAD WOUND.
DUDE THAT STUFF IS CURRENTLY BEING HOARDED! HOW CAN YOU BE SO WASTEFUL??!
There’s a triumphant music cue as Ferdy compliments Allison on a nice shot. The couple run towards each other, I guess Ferdy has to get down to the level Allison is on, I mean, seriously, where the fuck is that last murderbot? The couple hug as the camera raises on a crane to give us a sweeping overview of the MALL PROPER before panning up to show us the fact that sunlight is shining through the glass roof. ALLISON AND FERDY ARE THE LAST COUPLE STANDING, PEOPLE! THEY MADE IT TO MORNING LIGHT!!
SCREEN FADES TO BLACK.
Roll visual credits! Apparently, now that I think back on it, I guess all the murderbots were indeed destroyed, though I still have questions because I don’t buy that the elevator really destroyed it. And WHOA they actually use the head exploding shot to credit Barbara Crampton, aka Suzie, damn, that was a bit much? [JC: Head exploding shot was Suzee Slater/Leslie, not Barbara Crampton/Suzie. She died screaming and on fire.] [bat: DAMN IT! Okay, in my defense, I spent like 12 hours on this recap and by the time I got to the credits, I was wiped out and couldn’t remember who died how.]
I’m kind of sad the racist couple didn’t die. But can’t win them all. We’ve gone to full text credits with wild 80s synth musical score. Now I sit and wait. And wait. And there it is! The murderbot vrooming all up into full frame and yelling “THANK YOU HAVE A NICE DAY.” [JC: Oh. I wasn’t expecting MCU-style post-credits scenes, and turned it off before that.] [Wing: GODDAMN IT, THE ONE TIME I DON’T SIT THROUGH THE END.] [bat: THE MCU HAS DONE ITS JOB AND TRAINED ME PROPERLY!]
For once, and this is a rare thing, I’m going to say for what this movie is, it really isn’t bad. I know, I’m shocked, too. I’m praising a film I spent a huge amount of time capslock raging at but really, it basically delivered on what it promised. It gave us muderbots rampaging in a mall. How can I complain?
Sure, Jim Wynorski – who “voiced” the murderbots – wrote this script so he could direct the film for cheap [JC: And also cast Kelli Maroney (Alison) because he wanted to date her, so . . . shady, dude.] and the basic plot was phantom of a mall but with robots. In the 1980s, robotic technology was starting to really take off, so of course it would be easy to play on peoples’ fears of robots. It still works today, on some level, with the advent of AI. It’s all Pandora’s box, open can of worms, etc., etc.
Yeah, you could technically remake this, upgrade the fuck out of the PROTECTOR 101-SERIES robots and… well, okay I guess malls would be a difficult setting in today’s landscape. Also, they kinda did the murderous AI robots in I, Robot, which yes I saw in theaters and still wonder why I did to this day. [JC: Same.] As I was saying you could reboot this and upgrade it to today’s horror standards. But, I’m not sure it would be a good film. This was a shlocky, sorta gory, kind of a soft-core porno for a hot minute, horror film direct from the mid-80s. Those films just don’t get made in 2020. I miss the fucking 80s, okay.
I have to say it was odd rooting for characters. Usually I just want them to die. But, for a change, there was enough character development for me to start to care on a basic level. For once I’m glad the “smart” girl, the “new” girl, survived. And found love, even if Ferdy should be banned for life from possessing a gun.
What did you think, JC?
[JC: Okay, so. I’d heard enough about this movie to get my expectations up for a ridiculous, campy, schlockfest. And . . . it is, but I think my expectations were a little too high. It was fun for a while, but it felt like it dragged in places, which is shocking for, again, a 77-minute-long movie. I was getting bored and zoning out more often than I ought to have been, although there was plenty I did enjoy. I’m oddly enamored of the Killbots; head explosions are always good for shock value; and Alison was a decent character. When I realized she was our Final Girl, I was onboard with it.
So, I keep referring to the murderbots as “Killbots” because, as I mentioned earlier, that was the original title. It was actually released to theaters under that title in March of 1986, where it performed terribly because people apparently mistook it for a kids’ movie [bat: HOW?!] [Wing: Who to the what now?] akin to Transformers (the cartoon/toy line, not the Michael Bay garbagefest), and no one went to see it. So, they pulled it from theaters, cut 15 minutes out of it, and re-released it as Chopping Mall. A title that makes it sound like a slasher rather than Killbots run amok. For real, I used to get this one mixed up with Basket Case, because the posters were very similar, and I thought they were both in the slasher genre. Nope. Killer robots. Seems they were going to have confusion no matter which title they went with. For the record, I like the “Killbot” title a hell of a lot better.
Anyway, I didn’t hate watching this. I didn’t love watching it like I hoped I would, but I’m glad I got the chance to see (and snark) it. It definitely mostly accomplishes what it set out to do.]
[Wing: I had a good time with this one, but JC’s right, it feels so much longer than its actual run time, and I had a hard time paying attention to big chunks of it especially in the second half. I still can’t believe it averages at least one kill every ten minutes and yet somehow still manages to drag on.
This recap and JC’s commentary, though, are gold.]
Well, there you have it. JC enjoyed the Killbots and their cheesy one-liner. I can’t say I hated this, I really don’t, it had its moments, I’d watch it if it came on but I certainly wouldn’t seek it out of my own volition. It certainly is a time capsule film, because they don’t make ’em like they used to and malls really aren’t malls anymore.
Thanks to JC and Wing for joining me on this, it was a lot of fun! Happy Chopping and have a nice day!
[Wing: I am here for these group recap events, and we’ll have more coming in the future.]