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The Mangler

USA/Australia/South Africa 1995
produced by
Anant Singh, Sudhir Pragjee (executive), Sanjeev Singh (executive), Helena Spring (executive), Harry Alan Towers (executive) for Allied Film Productions, Filmex, Distant Horizons, New Line
directed by Tobe Hooper
starring Robert Englund, Ted Levine, Daniel Matmor, Jeremy Crutchley, Vanessa Pike, Demetre Phillips, Lisa Morris, Vera Blacker, Ashley Hayden, Danny Keogh, Ted Le Plat, Todd Jensen, Sean Taylor, Gerrit Schoonhoven, Nan Hamilton, Adrian Waldron, Norman Coombes, Larry Taylor, Irene Frangs, Megan Wilson, Odile Rault, Ron Smerczak
screenplay by Tobe Hooper, Stephen David Brooks, Harry Alan Towers (as Peter Welbeck), based on a short story by Stephen King, music by Barrington Pheloung

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A speed iron/folding machine - a mangler - goes berserk and folds one of the workers in a pretty ghastly fashion in the industrial laundry of Gartley (Robert Englund), a ruthless capitalist and general evil man, who even looks menacing despite being partly crippled.

Washed out cop Hunton (Ted Levine) wants to investigate the accident, but his superiors are all on the payroll of Gartley and not only hush things up but give him permission to start up the mangler again right away. Later that day, the mangler burns three workers when a steam hose comes loose, and now Hunton really wants to investigate, and to this end, he brings along his hippie best friend Jackson (Daniel Matmor), who immediately realizes the mangler is possessed and its demon was awakened by virgin blood. Later it is established that the mangler was actually infected with possession (I don't know how else to put it) by a refrigerator just recently - really, I'm not making this up -, but ultimately it turns out that Gartley has fed the mangler with 16 year old virgins for years (someone has forgotten all about the fridge, I suppose) because ... well, I have no idea, because he's evil I suppose. And as it happens, Gartley's latest ward Sherry (Vanessa Pike) turns 16 this very day, and guess who's coming for dinner.

Of course, Hunton and Mark have to save the girl, so they enter the laundry with the proper exorcising equipment, feed Gartley to the mangler just to exact divine justice, then go on to drive the demons out of the mangler - the mangler however is not dispossessed quite that easily, and soon enough he eats up Mark, then goes after Hunton and Sherry as well before Hunton can finish the exorcism on his own and everything goes up in the customary flames.


Oh boy, what a piece of shit: Now we all know that Stephen King isn't the best of writers (far from it actually), and The Mangler possibly wasn't his best story, but the film resulting from the story is below even him (though allegedly great liberties have been taken when adapting the source material). The film's script is sooo bad it's not even ridiculous anymore, I don't know what the scriptwriters were even thinking - I mean a possessed laundry folding machine is bad enough, but when it comes running after people, oh my God. To add to the disaster, Tobe Hooper's direction is uninventive and doesn't leave out a single cliché - though in all fairness not even a far better directorial job could have saved the film. And then there is of course the cast: Robert Englund really goes over the top with this role, but this time he hams it up a tad too much, while the heroic duo of Ted Levine as the washed out tough cop and Daniel Matmor as the Jesus-style hippie are simply annoying. This all results in one of the worst films ever, and unfortunately not in the so-bad-it's good way of worst.

Actually, I have the suspicion that this film was meant to be a comedy (come on, it's got a possessed folding machine and a possessed fridge), only in the last minute it was decided to play it straight anyways or nobody understood the first thing about comedy - but that's just a humble guess of mine ...


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
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and your Ex wants
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... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD