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Monday, September 19, 2016

CHOPPING MALL (Vestron/Lionsgate Blu-ray) - Yes, I Did Have a Nice Day

The moment has arrived. This is a biggie for fans of Horror on physical media, fans of Jim Wynorksi movies and, most of all, fans of mall security. Chopping Mall has made its way to Blu-ray courtesy of the resurrected Vestron Video and Lionsgate. Many of us have owned that 8 movie pack of Horror movies featuring a number of titles from the late 80's that had our beloved Killbots (the alternate name for Chopping Mall) in bewilderingly low quality. We have waited patiently for a proper release of this iconic title featuring some of the greatest names in 80's Horror. I personally had wondered what we would get with the release of Chopping Mall in the way of extras before this title was announced for ressurection. Sure, I'd have been happy with a quality upgrade alone, but would the releasing company update the artwork, release it bare bones without extras, DNR it to death?

When Vestron announced its plans to release Chopping Mall on Blu-ray it offered up a smorgasbord of featurettes and commentary tracks that showed true dedication to the title. Now having had the chance to run through the product, I can tell you that we are lucky genre fans. We have a true partner in our corner in Vestron/Lionsgate. They are, in fact, dedicated to our happiness much in the way that Scream Factory has been a "fan's distro company". Let's run through this release including the special features, the quality and discuss the movie itself for those of you who may not know what a gem we have here. There's a reason this flick is a cult classic.

We have a brand new Vestron bumper. As a fan of the original bumpers for this label, I wasn't exactly thrilled to be greeted right off the bat with a fancy, computer generated version. I have to admit this left me concerned as to what would come next. In other words I had a dork out moment. The music that accompanied the original bumper is partially preserved. Hopefully that's enough for you purists. I finally got over it by the time I settled into the second Vestron release, Blood Diner. The new look grew on me. The packaging displays a Vestron Collector Series bar on the slip cover. This is absent from the actual Blu-ray cover which is the perfect way to offer this title (with and without the collector's bar). I personally would have liked to see reversible artwork featuring the Killbots title on the cover or other alternate artwork, but I am glad to see the original artwork preserved and the alternate cover being used for the slip.

The movie quality far exceeds the DVD releases of this title especially the aforementioned multi pack release. It looks great, good black levels and color saturation. It sounds good which is especially important when enjoying the Cirino score. I'm happy with what I saw and heard, but I always disclaim that by saying that I am not as sensitive to DNR as some folks. It did not look painted or smeared across the screen. I also enjoy film grain, the presence of which naturally occurs when a movie was shot on... film. As a comparison to previous releases of the film, this transfer far exceeds even my expectation. As the first title in the new Vestron line, the flagship, I hope this is the benchmark for the quality we will be seeing for the rest of the releases (Blood Diner also looks excellent by the by).

The extra features are where this release truly shines. Let's run through them.

You get three separate commentary tracks, and for this review I checked out the one that includes Kelli Maroney, Jim Wynorksi and Steven Mitchell. It's full of info about the shoot, casting and on set stories. Fans will be happy though I suppose having one that included more cast members could have been a nice inclusion. I enjoy commentaries, but I simply take what I can get when it comes to them. They don't make or break me.

“Back to the Mall” - A making of featurette that is fairly concise and offers some interviews with the  principles behind the film and cast members. The disc has a featurette for each aspect of the film rather than running one full length making of featurette.

“Chopping Chopping Mall” - Leslie Rosenthal, Editor of Chopping Mall, goes through her work on the film.

“The Killbots” - a discussion with Robot Creator Robert Shore about the Killbot creation.

“Scoring Chopping Mall” - Chuck Cirino who scored the film goes through how the score evolved. You get some vintage pics of his synth set up and he praises the Waxwork release of this score on vinyl (it's a great release though some folks have trouble with the cover art).

“The Robot Speaks” - You'll get a laugh out of the Q&A with a Killbot.

“The Lost Scene” - A brief discussion followed by the written section of the script that details a scene involving a horse in the mall. It sounds hilarious. I won't spoil it, but how do you think a scene involving a Killbot and horse might go?

“Army of One” - Some awesome set items are on display including the only surviving Killbot!

“Chopping Mall: Creating the Killbots” - Killbot creation is detailed from planning through Killbot creation. You get to see some images of what might have been. This pairs well with the other feature "The Killbots" earlier on this list. Both include Robert Shore.

Isolated Score Track by Chuck Cirino - As a huge fan of the score and a soundtrack junkie, I love extras of this type. It's never been more appropriate then for Chopping Mall where the entire backing track is amazing. This is great for parties when you put this flick on for background (or perhaps at a bar).

Chopping Mall itself is the perfect 80's Horror movie. Released in 1986, it takes place in the mall. There's a moral tale (don't party/have sex in a mall or you will be punished) which was the classic 80's family life lesson. The music is a high energy synthetic creeper built on awesome variations of a very powerful Short Circuit like theme. There's plenty of T and A. There are great kills involving the Killbots, security robots with deep, monotone voices,  who have unique weapons designed to stop crime (or kill teens). It features one of the greatest head explosions in all of Horror cinema history. Chopping Mall is one of those movies where you're not entirely sure if you want to root for the teen victims or the robot killing force. Sure, the teens are actually quite lovable and you'll have an even stronger connection after seeing half of them without their clothes on, but the Killbots are so well mannered, tactically advantaged and efficient;it's difficult not to appreciate this kind of engineering. Now if you line up a Killbot against say Johnny 5 from Short Circuit, you'll know who to root for, right? (I'll leave that question hanging intentionally open... feel free to address it in the comments or on social media).

The cast of Chopping Mall is filled with Horror legends, cult classic icons and bodacious babes. I'll just list it out a few so you can see them all in one place. Feel free to pick your jaw up off the floor when you're done reading. Kelli Maroney (so good in Night of the Comet), Barbara Crampton (From Beyond, Reanimator, ever gorgeous and a stellar actress to this day), Paul Bartel, Dick Miller, Mary Wornov, Gerrit Graham, Angus Scrimm... I mean, who isn't in this movie? And those are just the ones I'm honed in on. It's not a complete list.

All of this adds up to including this Blu-ray release of Chopping Mall in your collection. Vestron did a great job with the release providing plenty of reasons to upgrade. If this is your first time enjoying Chopping Mall then you truly are fortunate to see it in this way, looking this great with this much supporting information to make you a veritable expert on the production of the film. I suppose there's only one question left for you to answer. How are you going to create a Killbot costume for Halloween this year?

You can order your copy of Chopping Mall from DiabolikDVD HERE.

From Lionsgate/Vestron:

Synopsis:

High tech robots equipped with state-of-the-art security devices have been recruited as the new mechanical 'night watchmen' for the Park Plaza Mall. When a jolting bolt of lightening short circuits the main computer control, the robots turn into 'killbots'...on the loose after unsuspecting shoppers! Four couples are trying to make it after-house in a mattress store. They make it all right...in the morgue!

CHOPPING MALL BLU-RAY™ SPECIAL FEATURES
·       AUDIO COMMENTARIES:

o   Director/Co-Writer Jim Wynorski, Actress Kelli Maroney, and Co-Writer/2nd Unit Director Steve Mitchell

o   Historians/Authors Nathaniel Thompson (Mondo Video) and Ryan Turek (Shock Till You Drop)

o   Director/Co-Writer Jim Wynorski and Co-Writer/2nd Unit Director Steve Mitchell

·       FEATURETTES:

o   “Back to the Mall”

o   “Chopping Chopping Mall”

o   “The Killbots”

o   “Scoring Chopping Mall”

o   “The Robot Speaks”

o   “The Lost Scene”

o   “Army of One”

o    “Chopping Mall: Creating the Killbots”

·       Isolated Score Track by Chuck Cirino

·       Trailer

CHOPPING MALL PROGRAM INFORMATION
Year of Production: 1986
Title Copyright: Program Content and Package Artwork © 1986 Trinity Pictures/Concorde Pictures. All Rights Reserved. Package Design and Summary © 2016 Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Type: Theatrical Release
Rating: R
Genre: Horror
Closed-Captioned: N/A
Subtitles: English SDH
Feature Run Time: 76 Minutes
Blu-ray Format: 1080P High Definition, 16x9 Widescreen 1.85:1 Presentation
Blu-ray Audio: Original Monaural Audio

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