March 26th, 2008

CHOPPING MALL (1986) ***

A California shopping mall decides to replace their regular security guards with deadly robots called Killbots.  Take a second to imagine if a Cylon raped R2-D2 and it gave birth.  The bastard robo-offspring would look something like a Killbot.  A bolt of lighting turns the robots into psycho killing machines (Hello, they’re called KILLBOTS, what the heck did you think was going to happen?), and after they murder their programmers, the robots set their sights on a bunch of teenagers who are partying it up after hours in the mall.  Kelli Maroney is one of the teenagers and since she survived zombies attacking her in a shopping mall in Night of the Comet, pint sized killer robots attacking her in a shopping mall are a piece of cake. 


Okay let’s do some movie math:  Short Circuit + Friday the 13 = Chopping Mall.  However you do the math, one thing is for sure, this flick makes for one damn good time.


Jim (Not of This Earth) Wynorski directed this sucker, so you may already know what to expect.  Girls with no shirts on?  Check.  Former Roger Corman actors in meaningless cameos?  Uh-huh.  Lots of entertainment in under 80 minutes?  You betcha. 


The plot is stupid as all get out (I mean considering that the Killbots cause untold thousands of dollars of damage to the mall, it makes me wonder if security cameras would’ve been a smarter move.) but Chopping Mall moves at a lightning pace and features some brief, but memorable gore scenes.  (Love that exploding head gag.) 


Let’s tally up those cool points:


Scream Queen Kelli Maroney (+5)


Scream Queen Barbara (Re-Animator) Crampton (+5)


Dick (Gremlins) Miller (+10)


Paul (Rock n’ Roll High School) Bartel (+5)


Mary (Death Race 2000) Woronov (+5)


Jim (Return of Swamp Thing) Wynorksi (+5)


Gerrit (Phantom of the Paradise) Graham (+5)


5 Breasts at one point apiece (+5)


Barbequed bimbo (+5)


Death through a centerfold (+5)


Exploding head (+5)


Exploding robots (+5)


Great dialogue including such classics as, “They’re trying to French fry us!”, and “I’m just not used to being chased around a mall in the middle of the night by a bunch of killer robots!” (+10)


Gotta take some points off because for a movie called CHOPPING Mall, there isn’t a heck of a lot of chopping going on as the Killbots mainly use lasers to do their dirty work. (-5)


That gives Chopping Mall a solid total of 70 Cool Points, enough to cement it’s status as the Greatest Killer Robots in a Shopping Mall Movie ever made.  ***.  6 beers recommended to achieve the four stars experience.


AKA:  Killbots. 

THE RINGER (2005) ***


Jackass Johnny Knoxville’s gardener loses his fingers in a grass cutting accident, so he has to do what any good employer would do and pay for his operation.  Since he doesn’t have insurance that means he has to pretend to be retarded and enter the Special Olympics while his sleazy uncle (Brian Cox) bets the farm on him taking out the top contender.  Knoxville also falls in love with a cute volunteer (Katherine Heigl), which seriously complicates matters because after all, she thinks he’s mentally disabled. 


The Farrelly Brothers produced this consistently funny flick, which dances around the fine line of political correctness by making all of it’s disabled characters three dimensional.  There’s even a funny scene that takes place after they learn Knoxville is a fraud where they actually encourage him to go through with it, just because they’re tired of having the same spoiled athlete win the competition.  The film is an equal opportunity offender as it mocks regular folk just as much as the retarded.  (In one scene to study how retarded people act, Knoxville rents Rain Man, I Am Sam, Forrest Gump, and… The Best of Chevy Chase.)  The Special Olympics even granted the filmmakers their blessing with this flick, so you shouldn’t feel too bad at laughing at the more off color jokes. 


Sure the story is packed with clichés, but there is at least some genuine heart to the flick and the performances make it work.  Knoxville is great in the lead, even though the line of his character acting “normal” or “retarded” gets a little blurry sometimes.  Cox is a hoot as the crass uncle and Heigl (just before she hit the big time with Grey’s Anatomy) is just peachy as the love interest.  The real mentally challenged actors all do a fine job as well, but it’s Jesse Ventura (in a vocal cameo) who gets the best line of the movie when he says, “I’ve had bowel movements with more spine than you!”