Chopping Mall (1986)

Barbara Crampton? Jim Wynorski? Incredible title? All things that would ordinarily make me love a movie. Unfortunately, Chopping Mall just didn’t do it for me. The title implies something very different but not only that, the movie was just lacking something that I can’t quite put my finger on. It was just an okay movie and honestly, I probably wouldn’t jump at the chance to watch it again.

“Chopping Mall” sounds like the movie will be an incredible slasher, with blood and boobs galore (this is a Wynorski movie, after all), but instead we get killer security robots who just turn evil for no reason? The characters in the movie are really quite charming, especially Barbara Crampton who I have a particular soft spot for (Reanimator is probably one of my favorite horror movies). Once the kids start getting killed, they kind of lose their personalities and are just fodder for the death toll. The only characters who maintain any kind of personality are the two who are left standing at the end.

*spoilers*

The two kids left are really very cute, the nerdy one who’s not obnoxiously and  unbelievably awkward. He’s actually rather relatable, as is his female counterpart. I think what comes through in the movie is that all the actors had a really great time making the movie. They all seem like they’re having a good time and it shows in the finished product. Unfortunately, that finished product is just an okay film.

I don’t think I have much to say on Chopping Mall, overall. I think it would’ve been cool if it was a janitor or night staff guy who was doing the killing and staged it to look like the robots had done it but really the robots were trying to help the kids the whole time. I also really wanted more from Barbara Crampton, though I guess she didn’t do much in Reanimator now that I think about it. She really does “I’m freaking the fuck out” really well, as shown in the ending of From Beyond and in her death sequence in Chopping Mall.

One thing I really liked in this was that the final girl was extra badass. By the end, she believes that everyone else is dead and takes out the last robot on her own. She kicks so much ass throughout the film and handles shit really well. The death of the final robot is really cool too, it’s a great shot of it on fire in one of the stores.

The behind-the-scenes on Chopping Mall was really nice (I have the blu-ray from Vestron Video I believe), because all of the cast was really into the movie and clearly had a great time. It’s nice when a movie is a passion project from everyone involved.

Sorry if this was really rambling and strange, overall this movie was just eh.

2/5

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Blood Diner (1987)

This movie is batshit crazy and I loved every minute. I must say, it did teeter on the edge of irritating nonsense and hilarious absurdity, but somewhere around the middle of the film or maybe even the beginning of the second act it pushed itself over into the latter. This could be because I have a fairly high tolerance for garbage and it was the fourth movie I had watched that day so I was properly loosened up. Overall I would say that this movie isn’t for anyone who can’t stand some 80’s trash. I wouldn’t even call this a B film, more like a C or D, it was so bad.

With that said, the production value and the plot actually weren’t that bad. It was just everything else. The acting was mediocre at best (though the two main actors were fairly decent), the props were just strange, the writing was cringeworthy, and there were a lot of extraneous, overdone scenes/elements. On top of all of this, something must’ve happened to the audio (otherwise this was just a very poor creative call) because the movie looked like it was dubbed, despite the fact that the actors are clearly speaking English. This makes the movie kind of literally unwatchable because your eyes are trying to sync the movements of the actors’ mouths to their words but they never quite sync. But maybe that’s just me.

I have to say, Blood Diner definitely wasn’t what I had imagined it would be. The poster for the movie makes you think it’ll be some rundown diner in the middle of nowhere run by cannibal hillbillies. Instead, two brothers run a vegan/vegetarian/health food (??) diner thing (??) and are attempting to revive an ancient Egyptian (??) goddess. Honestly, it’s super unclear. There’s a lot I’ll never understand about this movie, and I accept that. What I do know is that the two brothers are being motivated/guided by their deceased uncle who died when he had attempted to bring back Sheetar. The brothers (George and Michael) dug up the uncle, took out his brain, stole eyes from a police officer, and have now reanimated him and have him in a jar. He talks somehow (don’t worry about it) and instructs them on what to do. Basically, they have to gather a bunch of body parts to actually construct Sheetar then collect parts to feed her at the “Blood Buffet” when they revive her. (I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried).

*I’d probably stop reading now if you don’t want the ending ruined*

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The movie is a series of the two casually killing girls and constructing Sheetar, who just hangs out in the background for most of the movie. There’s a bunch of other shit thrown in, like George’s obsession with wrestling, a rival diner trying to steal their secrets, said rival having a scarecrow type thing with a pumpkin head who he talks to throughout, a naked cheerleading scene, as well as it being heavily implied that they serve their customers human flesh and drug them so they crave food. There are also two detectives trying to solve the case but they mostly bungle it, both characters being super tropes with  hilariously awful dialogue.

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Probably the best part of Blood Diner is the ending. It would be typical for them to be thwarted before they can summon Sheetar and everyone goes home happy. Instead, there’s this insane club scene where they turn the club goers into ravenous, zombie-like creatures who feast on the organs they’ve harvested from their killings. Sheetar is successfully summoned and kills everyone in the club, like the badass she is. Unfortunately, Michael and George are killed during this sequence, but really, what else was going to happen? The movie ends with her leaving the club in disguise, passing all of the cops who have gathered, and getting into a car with a stranger before revealing herself.

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This movie was an absolute blast to watch. It never for a single second took itself seriously and because of that, you get a lot of great jokes and an overall funny movie. It’s absolutely absurd and almost mind-boggling at times, but who doesn’t need that every once and a while? It’s hard to rate this one since it’s on quite a different scale than the others I’ve done so far, but I’d say probably a 2 or 3/5 for value and a 4/5 for enjoyment. Do with that what you will.

Ginger Snaps (2000)

If you’re familiar with the horror genre then you’ve probably heard of Ginger Snaps. Even still, I had almost no idea what I was getting into when I sat down to watch it. Did I know it was a werewolf movie? Sure. Anything past that was a mystery, however, but I like my movies completely without expectation anyway.

We start the film with two teenage girls obsessed with death and classic suburban 90’s tropes (considering it was released in 2000, I’ll still consider this to have 90’s elements). Neighborhood dogs are being killed by some unknown beast but no one seems too worried about it, kids making jokes and parents not seeming very concerned. This immediately gives the movie the feel that it’s in some other dimension where werewolves are somewhat commonplace. They give the unknown thing an ominous name like “The Beast of something” (totally forgot what the name of the town is), which contradicts that idea but whatever. The whole beginning feels kind of strange (a feeling that doesn’t exactly let up, now that I think about it).

One theme of this movie that I found very interesting and left me with a couple questions (more on that later) is female puberty. Towards the beginning of the film, Ginger gets her period for the first time (she’s 16 so this is a bit strange) and this is played upon through the film.

*spoilers but the kind you could probably piece together on your own*

Moving right along past the high school drama of boys being stoner idiots and girls being vapid sluts (not my opinion, just the trope), Ginger and her sister Brigitte are in a park late at night with the plan to fake the death of a dog belonging to a girl they don’t like. While in the park, Ginger is attacked by a werewolf. In a pretty intense scene, she’s dragged into the woods and Brigitte chases after her. They eventually escape the wolf and run into the street where the wolf chases them and gets hit by a car. This is one spin on werewolves that Ginger Snaps does: the wolf is dead after being hit by the car. No silver or wolfsbane for these guys. They can die just like anything else.

Ginger and Brigitte go back home and Brigitte wants to call an ambulance but they soon realize that Ginger’s wounds are healing. Brigitte is rightly freaked out by that but Ginger brushes it off, saying she’s fine and she’d rather not cause any more trouble by going to the hospital. As anyone could’ve guessed, this leads to a chain of events of her slowly turning into a werewolf.

*I’d say stop reading now if you want to watch this movie*

One incredibly cool thing about Ginger Snaps is the slow and steady transformation that Ginger goes through. We watch her first sprout little tufts of gray hair, then she begins to grow a tail, her fingernails become more claw-like, and towards the end, her eyes and face become more wolf-like. I thought this was a very cool spin, instead of having one big transformation when the full moon comes (though we do get this at the end). Ginger’s attitude also changes quite a bit and she starts to become a lot more sexual (remember the puberty theme). Brigitte is left more or less alone, while her sister who was her only friend starts to hang out with the popular kids/stoners and ditch their previous loner attitude. Brigitte realizes how weird Ginger is becoming and looks to the local drug dealer for help. Let me backtrack for a sec here, Sam (the drug dealer) is the one who hit the wolf that night and implied heavily that he knew it was a werewolf. Brigitte and Sam start doing research together, trying to find some way to cure Ginger. They believe that lycanthropy is actually an infection that slowly consumes the person from the inside. They try a silver belly button ring since pure silver is known to help fight infections. This does not work and they find a plant called Monkshood (an offshoot of Wolfsbane) but it is a spring plant and it is October, so chances of finding some are slim to none.

In comes the weird fuckin’ mother of Ginger and Brigitte. Through the whole movie, the mom is just so weird and I have a lot of questions about her, but more on that later. She’s very overbearing and it seems at the beginning that she’s just the typical suburban mom trope but slowly through the movie she becomes something more, starting with her having Monkshood in the house right when Brigitte needs it.

Ginger has by now infected another person (a boy she has sex with) and has killed a dog or two. This quickly escalates to her getting into fights and the accidental death of the girl previously mentioned in their kitchen. Brigitte and Sam turn the Monkshood into an injectable serum which she tests on the boy Ginger infected, and it works. The movie quickly becomes a race against time, however, as Ginger is getting more and more out of control and the next full moon is steadily approaching. She starts killing people for fun and is becoming more and more wolf-like.

I’d like to take a second to talk about Ginger and Brigitte’s mother because I feel like there are a lot of unanswered questions. In the beginning of the movie, Ginger complains about back cramps and the mom is very intrusive about asking if she’s getting her period. At the time it seems like the mom is just being overly pushy but I started to develop a different theory through the movie. All through the film, the mom asks Brigitte what’s going on, what’s wrong with Ginger, etc. but she seems like she almost already knows. This lead to my theory that by the end of the movie we would have a Teen Wolf moment, where it wasn’t Ginger’s being bit that made her into a werewolf but genetics. I thought that the mom was curious about her daughter’s period because that is when her werewolfism would start to show. This was further supported in a later scene where Brigitte is about to go into a party where Ginger has run off to (and where Sam is) to try and get her to come home and cure her. Sitting in the car, the mom says that this is all her own fault. She heavily implies here that she knows something about what’s happening to Ginger. She has also kept two fingers of the girl they accidentally killed (the mom found them in the yard) and is holding them in a Tupperware container through this whole scene. She goes on to say that they can fill the house with gasoline, light a match with the father inside, and disappear “just us girls”. I don’t know about any of you who saw this movie, but I am so confused! What the hell is going on with the mom? Do you guys agree that maybe she does know about the lycanthropy and/or maybe this is a Teen Wolf situation? Is this cleared up in any of the sequels? Let me know in the comments.

I can feel myself rambling here so let me wrap up. The ending of this movie was a major downer, with Brigitte stabbing Ginger and killing her instead of injecting her with the cure and holding her until she stops breathing. Sam is also killed by Ginger (which sucks cause I really liked him). I don’t quite get the message here because I’m quite sure that it’s not trying to say periods will kill you. Brigitte easily could’ve injected Ginger but stabbed her instead. Is this because Brigitte knew Ginger would never be the same? Was she worried the serum wouldn’t work because Ginger had gone full wolf? She looked surprised that she had stabbed Ginger, so maybe it was instinctual? Though I’m upset that they didn’t save Ginger, I’ve come to expect downer endings from werewolf movies. Even comedies like An American Werewolf in London ends poorly. Ginger Snaps really defied most of the norms for werewolf movies, though, so I was surprised and kind of disappointed in the ending.

 

3/5

Please excuse my disappearance

Hi everyone,

Sorry, I’ve disappeared for a couple months now. I’m a college student and things got really busy really fast. I also kind of dropped the blog idea for a bit because I am a woman of many hobbies and it gets a little hard to juggle. I’ve decided to keep with this, though, since I love horror movies and I love talking about them even more. With that said, what are some things you guys would like from this blog? Should I keep doing my own reviews? Should I start including recommendations for other movies? How about television shows? Let me know what you’d like to see more of.

In the past couple months that I’ve been gone I have seen dozens of movies, so expect some posts on those soon. We’ve got everything from classics like Rosemary’s Baby to 80’s garbage like Blood Diner, so stay tuned!

Thanks for checking in,

Your Final Girl