The Colonial Theatre Tea Garden

The beauty spot of downtown Richmond was, in 1921, the Tea Garden of the brand-new Colonial Theatre. Herein, we recreate the essence of elegance, joy and hauteur that was once found in Virginia's first real picture palace. Bathtub gin is available at the top of the grand ramps.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle. I Googled some of the actors from "Chopping Mall". Didn't find much on most of them, but John Terlesky--otherwise known as Dude with Nice Teeth--was in a string of crapweasel movies before becoming a director. A reasonably successful director, as a matter of fact. His directing credits include, among others, "Judgment Day". Hmm. Guess he *is* more than just a set of nice teeth.

I have a feeling that this is going to be a summer of many movies. As the semester was ticking down I escaped school a bit early with another teacher and we hit “Chronicles of Riddick,” which was a lot more amusing than I’d expected it would be. My main interest was seeing Vin Diesel, preferably without a shirt, but it turned out to be a decent sci-fi kind of thing. Last night I went to see “Spiderman 2”, which was also admirable for what I expected to be a dumb sequel to a dumb superhero movie. (In all fairness, I hadn’t seen the first one—I tend to generalize superhero movies, but this one was pretty darned good.) I really need to catch up on some of the stuff I’ve missed over the past couple of years, too, and revisit some old faves.
I got one on my old fave list tonight. Why does everyone think that English-majory types only like very serious and preferably British movies? Tonight I watched “Chopping Mall”, alternately released as “Killbots.” I prefer “Killbots”—it conveys exactly how stupid the movie really is.
Some stupid movies are just plain stupid. “Killbots” is so damned dumb that it’s wonderful. Basic premise: Park Plaza Mall is equipped with three security robots. Storm fries circuitry, makes robots go haywire. Eight teenagers (what, you were expecting ANY other kind of cast for a bad horror movie?) have stayed in the mall to party (read: screw) in the furniture store where the guys work. After some gratuitous displays of boobs and guys in tightie whities, the robots start a-killin’.
Natch, it follows the Horror Movie Rules; the cocky dude and bitchy chick, who have done the most obvious scrumping, get offed first. I love the bitchy chick’s death—the robots laser her head, which promptly explodes like a rotten Jack-o’-lantern. (Sorry for the trite analogy, but trust me, that was wittier than anything in the movie.) Her boyfriend doesn’t die quite so spectacularly, but the wax putty they used to create his “cut throat” is hilariously visible. (Note on this guy: He’s kinda cute, which is obviously what landed him the role, but I think even the “Killbots” powers-that-be realized his talent was limited. He chews gum and otherwise displays his teeth every second he’s onscreen. I figure the director just said “Oh, screw it, you can’t act but you’re pretty and you’ve got perfect teeth. Show them off a lot, will ya, kid?” )
Since horror rules state than anybody who has sex dies, the other two couples who have actually scrumped (less hot, but more likable) also die before the dorky guy and the sweet girl, who watched “Rodan” while the others were test driving the beds, survive. There’s an obligatory crawl-through-the-air-duct scene, too.
This movie just plain rocks. It has to be the stupidest premise on earth; it’s not scary at all, and doesn’t feature any actors (?) who’ve EVER been heard of by ANYBODY. But it’s great. It’s funny as hell and it’s a great chance to relive ‘80s culture.
I do wonder what happens to the people who act in these movies, though. I mean, B-movie actors usually show up in a variety of B movies, and usually make it into one or two A pictures. This klunker of a picture isn’t even B-grade; it would be lucky to get E-movie status. Were these the folk of Hollywood legend who came from the farm back in Iowa to make it big in the movies? Are the “stars” now, twenty-odd years later, still parking cars and pumping gas (thank you, Cheesy-ass Song Lyrics, Inc.), sending postcards back to Iowa and waiting for their big break? It’s poetic, but I hope not. They did their bit to entertain me with the crap that is “Killbots”, and now I hope they’re all doing well as prosperous doctors and bankers in Des Moines, having forsworn the siren call of Tinseltown. After all, they heeded that siren call once upon a time, and it landed them running from tinfoil robots in a mall. Des Moines would look pretty damned good after that.