The Mangler (1995)

Movie Title: The Mangler

Year Released: 1995

Rated: Unrated

Runtime: 1h 46min

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Director: Tobe Hooper

Writer: Tobe Hooper, Stephen David Brooks and Harry Alan Towers (Based on a short story by Stephen King)

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

Review: When a detective (Ted Levine) begins investigating a series of gruesome "accidents" at the Blue Ribbon Laundry he soon uncovers some sinister secrets. When the laundry's owner, Bill Gartley (Robert Englund), tries to keep things under wraps, an ancient evil that resides in a beastly laundry press goes to outrageous lengths to feed its need for more victims. Can the monstrous machine be exorcised before more have to die? Or will our hero sheet himself from fear? See if demons can be cleansed in The Mangler!

First, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho made us afraid to take a shower. Then, Steven Spielberg's Jaws made us afraid to swim in the ocean. Now, in 1995, Tobe Hooper's The Mangler made us terrified beyond all rational thought of laundry folding machines - No, seriously!

The Mangler is based on a short story by Stephen King, and is quite effective. Ridiculous, but effective. And the movie version works the same way.. sort of. Director Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) takes a premise that is laughably bad and creates a gothic horror tale that is completely ridiculous that works in some spots and has a creepy mood and atmosphere that really could of put this into top-tear cult classic territory. It just doesn't quite get there. Most of this can be attributed to the script and tone being all over the place, the characters being too cartoonish, and the story meandering a bit too long to get to what is really going on that it might lose you. It's kind of a shame.

Now, with all that said, I have to confess... I enjoyed The Mangler! It, without a doubt, has its problems - and there are many. But I dug the moody look and steamy atmosphere. Both Robert Englund and Ted Levine are really having the best time over-acting and scene-chewing like only they can; almost as if they knew exactly the type of movie they were in and are completely aware that this is the only way it's going to work. They are fantastic! And the villain of the piece - The Mangler - has a villainous presence whenever it's on the screen. And the last act of the movie is so unbelievably crazy that you'll howl with laughter, both with it and at it.

I do enjoy movies like this - crazy concepts with talent in front and behind the camera, but even with that it doesn't quite have the magic working for it. I'm recommending The Mangler for fans of Tobe Hooper, Stephen King, Robert Englund, Ted Levine, gothic horror, demon possession, evil inanimate objects, and struggles of dealing with laundry. It's goofy, ludicrous, and surprisingly entertaining! So if you're looking for an odd-duck of a horror flick, put this on, much like my dryer, and say - "Let's get ready to tumble!"

Stars (out of 4):

Fun Fact: Jim Cummings, the voice of iconic characters such as Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Darkwing Duck, and a variety of other animated characters, provided the vocal effects for the titular machine and was glad to get to work with director Tobe Hooper, for whom he was a fan. Although he felt that the strain put on his throat by making the Mangler noises and the quality of the film itself wasn't worth the effort. He once saw the film on television and was amused to see that his name was misspelled as 'Tim Cummings' in the end credits, as it meant that he got paid to do a bad film and no one would even know he had been involved.


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