This week we are covering films based on works by Stephen King. The Mangler is currently available on instant Netflix.
PASS: The Mangler (1995) – Rated R for gory horror violence and language.
“Machines are not made to rise up against humans, but in this sci-fi thriller, one does. But why? Police detective John Hunton (Ted Levine) is on the case, as he begins to unravel the strange mystery of a folding machine that seems to yearn not for clothing but for flesh. What is behind this lust for blood, and just who is responsible for turning it into a mangling creature? The answer may lie with the gadgets owner, Bill Gartley (Robert Englund). “
How could this go wrong? Take a story from the master of horror Stephen King. Have horror director Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist) not only film it but help adapt the script. Sprinkle in actors who played two of the more horrific serial killers recently, Robert Englund (Freddy from the Nightmare on Elm Street series) and Ted Levine (Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb from The Silence of the Lambs). Bake until done.
Well first the short story by Stephen King, while entertaining, is a one-note joke. For goodness sakes, it is a story about a haunted/possessed laundry machine!
If you thought the old Universal Mummy movies were silly in that any victim could simply walk toward the exit and be capable of outrunning the lumbering Kharis then how do you feel about a huge threatening machine that simply sits there?
Tobe does have a lot of fun with this. When one of the older ladies is umm folded to death, they take her remains away in a small laundry basket. If you had not already guessed, this movie is not at all subtle.
Tobe uses a lot of bizarre colored lighting, especially green. He also favors a number of odd camera angles. I did not find this dramatic so much as offputting. It is somewhat stylish but makes the film less serious.
The acting is pretty bad in this. The performances from Robert Englund and Ted Levine mostly consist of odd tics and mannerisms. Robert Englund is buried under makeup as usual. The supporting actors range from ineffectual to dreadful.
The central monstrosity, the Mangler is a very impressive piece of machinery. It looks great, both malevolent and suitably steampunk.
This movie can certainly provide some seriously goofy, gory fun but I simply cannot recommend it. I can hardly believe that this movie spawned two sequels.
People Watch: The Curse of The Mangler! For stuntwoman Ashley Waldorf and actors Demetre Philips, Lisa Morris, Vanessa Pike, Larry Taylor, Gerritt Schoonhoven, Ted Le Plat, Odile Rault, and Irene Frangs, this would be their last (so far) feature film appearance.