Saturday, 5 May 2012

The Mangler

Year:  1995
Director:  Tobe Hooper
Screenplay:  Tobe Hooper, Stephen Brooks, Peter Welbeck, based on the short story "The Mangler" by Stephen King
Starring:  Ted Levine, Robert Englund, Daniel Matmor, Jeremy Crutchley, Vanessa Pike
Running Time:  106 minutes
Genre:  Horror

This gruesome horror film is based on a 1972 short story by Stephen King.  In the small town of Riker's Mills, Maine, police detective John Hutton (Levine) is called to investigate a series of bizarre fatal accident at the Blue Ribbon Laundry, where a woman where a woman was pulled into an automated laundry press and folding machine called "The Mangler".  Hutton is immediatley suspicious, especially of the laundry's sinister owner Bill Gartley (Englund).  Further accidents occur, all of which result in seriosu injury or death and all seem to be connected to the Mangler.  Hutton's brother in law, Mark (Matmor) becomes convinced that the Mangler is possessed by a demon. 

In the bizarre world of horror movies, this offers the unique, at least as far as I know, site of the central monster being an item of laundry equipment, with it's sidekick apparently being a demonic refridgerator.  Ted Levine at least tries to give his part of the troubled but dedicated police officer witha  past some gravitas, while Robert Englund, whose face is encased in old-age makeup, with one bad eye and both legs encased in stylised metal leg braces doesn't so much chew the scenery as rip off great bleeding chunks with his teeth.  His dememnted performance is actually the only really entertaining part of the movie.  Otherwise your saddled with a movie where the main monster is a vast piece of metal, gears, chains and wheels which can't go anywhere.  This means that it depends on the victims actually going to it and climbing or falling into it, rather than it being able to do much itself. 
The film obvioulsy had a relatively large budget and the production values are pretty good, but it is surprisingly badly made.  The script desperately tries to pad out Stepehn King's slim story , and the usually reliable Tobe Hooper never manages to conjure up any suspense or scares, and for some reason lights the whole thing like a disco with smoke billowing almost constantly.  The special effects are pretty average.
A major box office flop on it's original release, this has become something of a cult film.  However, if you want my advice, don't waste your time.  Somehow this nonsense spawned two sequels to date.

Robert Englund in The Mangler              

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