As I begin to write this, I realize I may have to temper myself just a bit. I'm feeling terribly sentimental lately, and often the films I (re)watch to write this blog have the somewhat unintended effect of making me all the more so.
After a rather long day at work earlier this week, with some additional research to do when I got home, I headed to the headquarters of In Defense of Bad Movies (otherwise known as my garage) and popped one of my favorite, and oft watched, DVDs in the Blu-ray - Chopping Mall. I generally alternate - one time I'll watch without the commentary, the next with the commentary (which I've heard about nine times). Tonight was with commentary and it was nice to pretend Director Jim Wynorski and co-writer and 2nd unit Director Steve Mitchell were hanging out in the garage knocking back a few brews.
Unfortunately, I did not see this film in the theater. I honestly cannot recall if it made it to Cape Girardeau, but, I suspect it did not because, this is entirely the kind of film my Dad and I would have gone to see...probably several times. I discovered this film on videotape.
Indulge me a moment while I provide a short History lesson for the younger readers. There was a time, long gone, but not as far gone as the storied Drive-In theaters, when people of all backgrounds, political beliefs, races, creeds and colors would go to a magical emporium called...The Video Store. They went by a number of names in Cape Girardeau - The Video Spot, Videos and Cream (an odd name because they both served ice cream and had "the book" if you wanted to rent adult videos), The Movie Hub, but, the two best places in my home town were in grocery stores - Schnucks and The Food Giant.
People interacted in these magical places. Random people would ask "Have you seen this movie?" and you'd discuss it. Sometimes to the level of disagreement but rarely. Lawyers bumped elbows with dishwashers, Republicans and Democrats, Baptist and Catholic (usually in line to look at "The Book") all in one place like a a movie safe space. I believe Americans only began to eat their own when they stopped interacting in person and began to interact in Facebook likes and 140 character Twitter rants (says the guy who will post this review on both Facebook and Twitter). But...I digress...
Given the distrust of AI that Elon Musk (and anyone who has seen the first two Terminator films) this film probably should be required viewing by many. The story revolves around the implementation of security robots at Park Plaza Mall. Employees are provided bar code badges to ensure they aren't body bag fodder and the intent is to use "non-lethal" force on the random late-night thief discovered by the bots.
And then it all goes wrong with a single bolt of lightening....
I won't give too much away - but, do keep in mind the film is called Chopping Mall so...
The cast, as is always the case in a Wynorski pictures, is letter perfect and spot on (see the IMDB link) here. I mean - just look at that cast - Kelli Maroney, Barbara Crampton, as well as some amazing cameos by Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov as the Blands, the always brilliant Gerrit Graham and Dick Miller as...you guessed it, Walter Paisley.
The 80s were an amazing time. I feel, as I get older, that it is derided and frowned upon, even by some who were getting their first taste of success during that time. It was pre-digital age where you needed a shopping mall to shot film in if your story took place in...you know...a shopping mall. I think it was the last era when film makers had to really be creative. A time when "fixing it in post" was not generally an option. Sure, the digital world has opened up opportunities for a number of film makers for whom the "old ways" may not have seemed appealing. But, trust an old man when he says...new ain't always better.
I continue to watch the 2004 DVD for sentimental reasons (yeah - I'm a sentimental old fool I know) but, there is a recently released Blu-ray with a butt load of goodies that I'm hoping one of my kids will get me for the upcoming Father's Day (assuming my family actually reads this which is, of course, unlikely). I'm going to add a link to some of the reviews of the Blu-ray because the amount of extras included is mind-blowing.
Someday, Jim Wynorski (along with Fred Olen Ray and David DeCoteau) will win a well deserved Oscar (hopefully because I was able to get them a copy of my screenplay). I've already gushed about Wynorski's work on Gila! There is magic there if people would only accept it.
Here is a Blu-ray review. Unhappy they indicate the film is not "good" but still good stuff on the 2016 release