Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Movie Review: "The Mangler" (1995)

Director: Tobe Hooper
Year: 1995
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

A cop investigates a series of deaths at a commercial laundry business as workers keep getting injured and killed by the company's flatwork ironer that has been dubbed "The Mangler."

Several women stand around a defective machine screaming after it ate their coworkers in a movie still for Tobe Hooper's 1995 horror film The Mangler
"I'll tell you, the one thing worse than the devil within is the devil without." (Image Source)
We've enjoyed watching horror movie victims get chased down by demons in homes, psycho killers, dream figments, and dolls...so why not a flatwork ironer? "The Mangler" is directed by Tobe Hooper, who is known for directing horror classics like "Poltergeist" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." He also helped write the screenplay along with Stephen Brooks and Harry Alan Towers, which is based on a short story of the same name by Stephen King. In a small New England town, the workers at Gartley's Blue Ribbon Laundry are suddenly plagued by a series of accidents involving the company's industrial flatwork iron known as 'The Mangler.' The town sheriff and judge are close with the laundry service's owner, Bill Gartley (Robert Englund), and are quick to write off every death as an unfortunate accident. Detective John Hutton (Ted Levine) thinks there's more going on. While investigating these deaths, Hutton's well-educated brother-in-law Mark (Daniel Matmor) floats the idea that The Mangler might actually be possessed by a demon. Hutton writes the idea off as ludicrous at first, but as more evidence is found, it turns out he might be right.
The Mangler 1995 movie scene where Vanessa Pike and Robert Englund watch as their laundry press begins killing employees at Gartley's Blue Ribbon Laundry service
"I don't give a fuck if you're delivering a pizza to the pope." (Image Source)
Stephen King has made a lot of inanimate objects sentient, including cars and cola machines. We want to know what combination of drugs it took for King to make a demon-possessed laundry press the villain of "The Mangler." It's one of the most bizarre, non-threatening horror movie antagonists we've ever seen. Just about everyone who gets sucked into the damn thing has to do something beyond careless to get maimed. Whether they literally stick their hands inside the machine or physically crawl into it, The Mangler's victims had to do something stupid to get killed. Director Tobe Hooper tries to make the machine intimidating by giving it cartoonishly industrial features, including bulging lines, oversized gears, a massive chain drive. These features read "goofy," not "scary" or "menacing." It's not just the machine that's over-the-top, it's all of the characters, too. Robert Englund plays a sinister sadomasochistic-looking laundry owner in Bill Gartley. There's a photographer/mortician who looks like Emperor Palpatine with a new photography hobby. Hell, even the pill-popping protagonist Det. John Hutton, played by Buffalo Bill himself (Ted Levine), is exaggerated in his mannerisms. Every single person gives a cartoonish-but-inadequate performance in some way or another. This might be intentional to try and add a dark, tongue-in-cheek quality to what is an otherwise ridiculous story, but overall, we thought it sucked. Hooper fails to develop any of the characters, so we wound up caring about no one. He fails to make the story intriguing in any way, which left us utterly bored with what should have been a zany horror flick full of memorable moments. While there are a couple of gory deaths sprinkled throughout its runtime, these instances weren't enough to keep us engaged while watching the film.
Movie still for The Mangler where Robert Englund pushes Ted Levine into a demonic laundry machine with his cane and attempts to kill him
"Life's a bitch, then you die." (Image Source)
We're baffled by how "The Mangler" got made. What's more, we're flabbergasted by how it spawned not one, but TWO direct-to-video sequels.! We readily admit that there may be a small portion of viewers out there who can enjoy this in a "so bad, it's good" kind of ironic way. Though we love our fair share of "bad movies," this one is just too dull to make it enjoyable.

My Rating: 2/10
BigJ's Rating: 2/10
IMDB's Rating: 4.3/10
RT Rating: 27%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

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