1980s Techno Horror Fan Favorite Is A Cult Comedy Classic, Stream Without Netflix

By Robert Scucci | Published

When a movie about killer robots begins with the line, “absolutely nothing could go wrong,” you know you’re in for a treat. 1986’s Chopping Mall wastes no time establishing its source of terror, and you immediately know what kind of viewing experience you’re about to get yourself into. The movie’s cover, which involves a disembodied hand holding a shopping bag, as well as its tagline, “Where shopping costs you an arm and a leg!” should also help you come up with reasonable expectations for this technological horror cult classic.

Chop Til You Drop

Chopping Mall takes place in the Park Plaza Mall and quickly introduces its premise. The mall will implement new security measures in the form of three robots that will patrol the mall after hours. The robots are designed to apprehend burglars using non-lethal means, like tranquilizers and mild taser shocks.

Malls Are Fundamentally Terrifying

While the premise is being introduced, lightning strikes the central computer that controls the robots, causing the robots to malfunction and resort to violence.

Meanwhile, a group of eight teenagers are having an after-hours party involving drinking, horror movies, and a healthy amount of hanky-panky inside the closed furniture store three of the teens work at. Now that the mall is closed and the robots are activated, Chopping Mall quickly shifts its tone from teen sex comedy to a horror survival film with a setting reminiscent of Dawn of the Dead. Using whatever resources that they have at their disposal, the teens ransack the sporting goods stores for weapons and the automotive shop for gasoline and flares to come up with a suitable line of defense.

The Film Isn’t That Deep

While film scholars like Craig Ian Mann suggest that Chopping Mall is a stark criticism of 1980s mall culture, consumerism, and Reaganomics, I’d argue that it’s not that deep. In my mind, Chopping Mall is about a bunch of resourceful teens working together so they can survive being attacked by crazed security robots who indiscriminately kill whoever crosses their paths.

When technology runs amok to the point of murder, the teens immediately get to work in a setting that’s familiar to them and use their home team advantage to try to get the upper hand.

Goofy But Fun

Whether you think Chopping Mall is a criticism of capitalism or not, it’s a highly entertaining techno-horror with a great sense of humor. As a cynical 35-year-old, I know that you’re not supposed to trust teenagers. But in this case, I think I’d be okay following their lead because their optimism and willingness to take decisive action against the robots is commendable.

It’s also incredibly entertaining to watch a bunch of kids arm themselves to the teeth with guns from the sporting goods store to go on a survival rampage that would make Rambo proud.

Streaming For Free


Chopping Mall is fast-paced, funny, and has surprisingly good special effects for an independent horror movie with a small budget (roughly $800,000). Not only do the robots look like something you’d read about in a Philip K. Dick novel, the violence depicted in this film is used sparingly and convincingly. Shot inside the same mall that you see in Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Commando, this movie is also strangely familiar if you’re up on your action movies from this era.

As of this writing, you can stream Chopping Mall for free on Tubi.