By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Killer robots on prowl.
A new high-tech shopping mall installs robots as their night security team. They are programmed to apprehend and subdue any intruders, or anyone not showing them their security badge. A bunch of teenagers who work at the mall during the day decide to hang out and party there at night, but find that the robots have run amuck and are now trying to kill them. Locked into the place for the whole night the teens try fighting them off while desperately looking for a way out.
This was writer/director Jim Wynorski’s second feature and the beginning of an almost assembly line string of direct-to-video/B-movie features that of this writing now equals 94 and many of them done under a pseudonym. Wynorski shows some flair by injecting comedy into the proceedings including an engaging opening sequence done over the credits that includes a lot of sight gags and a good up-tempo synthesized score that fits the mood and action. There are also some fun cameos including Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov who appear at the beginning and recreate their roles from the hilarious cult hit Eating Raoul. You can also spot Mel Welles from Little Shop of Horrors fame as well as perennial B-movie favorites Dick Miller as a janitor and Gerrit Graham as a technician.
It was filmed at an actual mall in Sherman Oaks, California, which makes for an interesting backdrop and good authenticity. I also liked how the teens, both the men and women, are very resourceful and come up with different and elaborate ways to combat the robots. The female cast is attractive with a decent amount of nudity. The special effects aren’t bad either. I was impressed with the exploding head sequence as well as the burning body moment. My only quibble in this area is that they were able to break the glass of the storefront windows, which happens several times during the course of the film, much, much too easily.
The biggest problem with the film is that it just isn’t scary or suspenseful enough. The only time there was any real tension is towards the end when the Kelli Maroney character hides underneath some shelves at a pet store and is forced to keep quiet from the lurking robot while a snake and spiders crawl all over her. Despite some interesting directorial touches it still comes off as mechanical and formulaic and even though the running time is short I still found myself getting quite bored with it. There is also never any explanation for why the robots go haywire, which I felt was a major oversight.
My Rating: 3 out of 10
Released: March 21, 1986
Runtime: 1Hour 17Minutes
Director: Jim Wynorski
Studio: Concorde Pictures
Available: DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube