Friday, October 16, 2020

THE MANGLER (1995) Blu-ray Review

SCARE-A-THON Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 15 
Total First Time Views: 8 
Amount raised for BOXVILLE: $1069.80 

The Mangler (1995) d. Tobe Hooper (South Africa/UK) (106 min) (1st viewing) 

Unlike The Lawnmower Man, this actually IS an adaptation of a Stephen King story. However, it’s about a possessed industrial laundry pressing and folding machine… so there’s that. Yes, you read that correctly, and in spite of the fact that you’ve got Robert Englund headlining (and reuniting with his Eaten Alive director Hooper) and Ted Levine, Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill himself, playing our lead, there’s no denying that everyone involved and/or watching is asking themselves, “Wait, so, it’s a haunted mechanical laundromat? How is that going to work?”

Answer: It doesn’t.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t a few bright (red) moments of gore and splatter as people get sucked into the bloodthirsty metal monstrosity, and those moments are really the only reason to tune in, unless you’ve got an inexplicable desire to watch Englund strut about with steel leg braces under loads of unnecessary latex makeup or watch Levine try to play the goofy scenario straight, even if it involves bludgeoning an ancient icebox to death.

I suppose credit should be given to Hooper, Stephen David Brooks, and “Peter Welbeck” (aka legendary schlock producer Harry Alan Towers) for conjuring a feature-length film from such a flimsy premise; the story does actually unfold (get it?) in a relatively suspenseful manner with a surprisingly effective internal logic.

The problem is that it’s presented in such a cartoony fashion that the viewer feels insulted being asked to double down on our suspension of disbelief. “I’m already here to see the possessed laundry machine movie, Tobe. Why do I have to watch Englund hambone around like some sort of bad SNL skit while poor Ted just looks like he wants to go home the entire time?”

Also, there is that running time thing. Holy schneike, guys, it’s a Short Story. Why are we pushing up against the two-hour mark and padding out subplots and obnoxious characters to justify why we’re dealing with a folding machine from Hell? Squish more heads, pulverize a few more limbs, and let’s get the heck on with it.

All involved have done better work elsewhere (except maybe William Hooper, the director’s son, whose practical titular creation is quite the genuine thing of wonder), so there’s little need to seek this out unless you are a King adaptation completist or you’re planning to see Englund at a convention soon and want something new to chat about. Outside of that, enjoy the killer tagline, “IT HAS A CRUSH ON YOU!” and move along.


NEW 4K scan of the original camera negative of the uncut version of the film
NEW Audio Commentary with co-writer Stephen David Brooks
NEW “Gartley’s Gambit” with Robert Englund (23 min)
Rare Behind-The-Scenes Footage
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spot

The Mangler is available now on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory and can be ordered HERE:

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