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Script to Pieces: Chopping Mall Remake

Chopping Mall

Welcome to Script to Pieces, a recurring feature at Wicked Horror where we look at the best, most interesting and at times most unbelievable horror movies that never happened. Sometimes these will be productions that never came together at all, other times, they will be original incarnations that were completely different from what we wound up with. Each should be fascinating in its own way, because the stories of movies that never see the light of day can sometimes be even more interesting than the stories of those that do.

Chopping Mall is probably the last film anyone expected to ever be remade, but it’s a perfect example of what a remake starved decade the 2000s were. Anything that was a remotely recognizable title had at least optioned a remake at one point or another.

For a long time, though, it was tough to get a read on exactly what this remake would be. The only thing that was made explicitly clear right out of the gate is that it would not feature the same premise as the original. Jim Wynorski’s film revolved around robots that are introduced as state-of-the-art security hardware, killing a group of teenagers who sneak into the mall after dark.

A kill scene about to occur in Jim Wynorski's 1986 slasher Chopping Mall.

Most people who watch Chopping Mall feel misled by the title because, judging only by the name and the cover art, they’re usually expecting a slasher. For that reason, a remake that actually is a slasher would make sense. But at the same time, if you’re only going to remake a movie for its name, why bother remaking it? Chopping Mall does have its fans, after all—arguably more now than when the remake was announced. While unlikely, it’s possible that the cult rediscovery of the movie, thanks to things like its fantastic Blu-ray treatment, may have done its part to halt the remake’s development.

Regardless, it was completely confirmed that the remake would have nothing to do with the plot or concept of the original. To me, that sounds almost identical to the first attempts to remake Fright Night. Originally, Sony only wanted to use the title, so they got an official remake off the ground with early scripts revolving around a serial killer at a carnival. It did not evolve into a reimagining of Tom Holland’s classic until some time later.

Because the audience for Chopping Mall is smaller than that of Fright Night, I feel like they easily could have gotten away with this attempted remake—had it ever actually been made.

After its announcement, Chopping Mall found its director in Laid to Rest’s Robert Hall. That makes sense, too. If you’re going to reimagine it as a small-scale slasher, get someone who’s getting at least part of the credit for revitalizing the slasher genre during that period.

One of several killbots from the horror film Chopping Mall.Curiously, though, Hall explained that his take on the material would have a decidedly supernatural bent. Whether that means an undead killer or a haunted mall, we’ll probably never know. But I’d have to think that you don’t hire the director of Laid to Rest unless you plan on your Chopping Mall remake being a little heavier on the chopping.

After reports that the remake seemed to be well under way in 2011, there was no further word until 2013. Everything seemed to just fizzle out. Hall explained at that time, “Chopping Mall is still on the slate. We’re working with Roger [Corman] on that and we have it in development. My writing partner, Kevin Bocarde, is doing the heavy lifting right now. He has a script that I’m supposed to start my pass on pretty soon. We have a pretty solid plan for getting it out and it might even start rolling sometime late summer.”

That didn’t happen. While there’s no concrete reason as to why Chopping Mall never came together, there’s been no movement on the project in years. No one’s come out and said “It’s not happening,” but there’s been no push to make it happen, either. After five years since the last word on it, I think it’s safe to assume the project is dead.

Chopping Mall is a weird choice for a remake anyway. Some people want to see a new take on the killer robots, some people desperately want to see a version that’s the slasher they actually expected when they picked up the DVD. And what’s the distribution model for a remake of Chopping Mall? Was this thing actually going to go to theaters nationwide? Straight to DVD? I’d expect something in between. Maybe a limited theatrical release like Silent Night.

Either way, Chopping Mall hasn’t seen any kind of update in years and in that time, the remake trend has given way to other things. We’re still seeing them, but we’re certainly not seeing remakes of everything under the sun, as we were in the mid-to-late 2000s. For all I know, Chopping Mall could happen sometime down the line, but I definitely doubt it.

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Written by Nat Brehmer
In addition to contributing to Wicked Horror, Nathaniel Brehmer has also written for Horror Bid, HorrorDomain, Dread Central, Bloody Disgusting, We Got This Covered, and more. He has also had fiction published in Sanitarium Magazine, Hello Horror, Bloodbond and more. He currently lives in Florida with his wife and his black cat, Poe.
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