A brand new, draconian security system is installed in Park Plaza Mall: steel doors that smalshut at midnight, and roving armed robots who will immobilize any intruder. The night therobots are activated, a group of young folk (who might otherwise be at Crystal Lake, beingslaughtered by Jason), hold an after-hours party in the furniture store. An electrical storm friesthe robots’ circuits, sending them on a killer rampage (and somehow giving them lasercapabilities, it seems)…
The ensuing fight-and-flight tale with a dwindling band of heroes is very much a low-budgetretread of George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead, with robots instead of zombies. Directedby the indefatigable Jim Wynorski, and pumped out of Roger Corman’s Concorde factory, thiscould qualify for Most Typical Direct-To-Video Horror Release of 1986 (even if it did have somekind of minimal theatrical life, 99% of its audience would have encountered it on tape). Thecharacters are barely defined, the in-jokes come thick and fast, and there are cameos from suchstalwarts as Dick Miller, Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov. Mostly forgettable, the flick does boasta fine exploding head shot, and at 77 minutes, it gets in and out with a minimum of fuss. Andcan a movie about killer robots killing teens in a mall be all bad? No.
The case boasts “2.0 Dolby Stereo Surround,” but I’ll be damned if a I could detect a single,solitary peep emerging from the rear speakers. The volume level is very low too — you’ll beforced to crank the sound considerably to get any satisfaction at all (but turn it down again for thecommentary, which is plenty loud). At least there isn’t any distortion.
The aspect ratio is fullscreen, looking like the transfer was done using an aged video master.The colours are rather muddy, the picture is soft, and the grain is noticeable. Some of the shotsfeature badly faded colours (notably the opening and closing credits).
Not the kind of film where you would expect any features, but you’d be wrong. There’s acommentary by Wynorski and co-writer/second-unit director Steve Mitchell, which is anengaging behind-the-scenes journey through low-budget filmmaking. “Chopping Mall: Creatingthe Robots” is a 20-minute featurette consisting of Wynorski, robot creator Robert Short andothers looking back at the special effects. There’s also the trailer and a still gallery. The menu isbasic.
Trust me, this is no long-lost classic, though it isn’t without its entertaining aspects,particularly for anyone with any kind of nostalgia for cheap 80s horror. What is nice, however, isthat such a minor release is graced with a decent complement of extras.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “Creating the Robots” Featurette
- Theatrical Trailer
- Photo Gallery