James Wan Would 'Love' To Remake Chopping Mall, Under One Condition [Exclusive]

Jim Wynorski's 1986 horror cheapie "Chopping Mall" is a supremely silly film, better for snickers and guffaws than for scares or ideas. The premise is novel enough: a shopping mall has just installed a new line of ultra-advanced security robots that will patrol the mall at night looking for ruffians or thieves. Predictably, the robots go haywire and respond to any and all human beings with lethal force. They electrocute the janitor and begin chasing a group of mall employees who were having a sex party inside the furniture store. The film features such glorious cult luminaries as Barbara Crampton, Dick Miller, and Gerrit Graham. One can also take the supreme delight provided by legitimate icons Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov; when they appear on screen in any film, you know you're in for a treat. 

Of course, once the robots begin firing lasers at fleeing, half-naked women, a lot of the wit of "Chopping Mall" begins to wear thin. 

Regardless, "Chopping Mall" has garnered something of a cult following since its release, with fans of B-movies gathering around it in order to praise its goofy premise, its lascivious use of nudity, and its clunky-looking robots. One big fan of "Chopping Mall" is no one less than James Wan, one of the biggest hitmakers of his generation and horror enthusiast par excellence. Wan, of course, directed the first "Saw," bringing a long trend of torture movies into the mainstream, before also directing "The Conjuring," popularizing the now-dominant haunting subgenre. He also directed the massively popular blockbusters "Aquaman" and "Furious 7." The man is a force to be reckoned with. 

Wan recently talked with /Film's own B.J. Colangelo, and he idly mentioned that remaking "Chopping Mall" in his own idiom was not off the table.

What could possibly go wrong?

Judging by his own movies, Wan loves a certain kind of "fun" horror. He had a co-story credit on the new robot thriller "M3GAN," and directed the over-the-top supernatural thriller "Malignant." Both films, incidentally, were written by Akela Cooper. Wan, an Australian, has clearly brought a particular style of over-the-top exploitation action to his movies unique to his home nation. Ozploitation movies, for those familiar with them, tend to feature larger, more over-the-top, more dynamically filmed action sequences than their international counterparts. 

This "frightful fun" philosophy comes from Wan's broader notions of the genre in general, as he made explicit in his conversation with Colangelo. He said: 

"I have many horror films that I think that are just fun that I love, and I'm pretty sure the horror community shares them with me. I love movies like 'Chopping Mall.' I love 'Night of the Creeps.' These, to me, are just sort of fun horror films that I would love to be able to dive into one day, or do them but with the way that I make my films."

The reader might immediately acknowledge that Wan did not say that he was going to remake "Chopping Mall," but that it was merely something he would like to do eventually. No doubt, Wan's remake of "Chopping Mall" would feature a great deal more technological mayhem than Wynorski's version. It would also have to be set in the past, as shopping malls have long since ceased to be the central hub of community activity. The volume of idle, mall-bound teen loiterers has withered in recent years, and the mall has shrunk as a cultural institution. Teens would rather mail-order their goods.

The Killbots in "Chopping Mall" wouldn't work when window shopping online.

Elevated horror

Wan also takes a moment to do a little sported stomping on the phrase "elevated horror," a genre distinction that has been criticized at least 6,000% more than it has been used. As long ago as 2018, /Film was already lambasting the term as redundant, with many others chiming in to point out that separating "good horror" from exploitation movies does both a disservice. The term seems to have replaced what a previous generation merely called "art horror," which is, broadly, any horror movie that leans into existential dread harder than thrilling gore and nude scenes. Few use the term earnestly in the wild, but Wan has certainly heard it, and wanted to take a moment to point out how useless it is. In his words:

"I'm not afraid of — I don't believe in that term "elevated horror," because I think every horror is elevated, as far as you ask me. So I love the Robert Wise's 'The Haunting' all the way down to whatever. To me, there's none of this [elitism]. They're all at the same level."

One can admire Wan's egalitarian attitude toward his favorite genre, an attitude that many horror nuts and gorehounds happily share. When it comes to the genre of our choice, fans tend to grade on a curve, allowing unapologetic shlock like "Chopping Mall" into the canon of notable cult classics, despite its bad pace, dumb ideas, and ridiculous premise. "Chopping Mall" continues to be proliferated through B-movie circles, and is readily available on carefully curated streaming services like Shudder and Shout! Factory TV. One could do a lot worse than gather with a few friends, imbibe one's favorite cocktail (provided you are all over 21), and do some "Chopping Mall" homework before Wan remakes it in earnest.