USA/Australia/South Africa 1995
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
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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 ...