Once and awhile (or in this site’s case, quite frequently), a movie comes along whose premise is so ridiculous that you have to rent it. If for no other reason, just because you want to see for your own eyes how such a ludicrous plot can sustain a movie for 90 minutes. THE MANGLER, a film about (drumroll, please) a killer industrial laundry machine, clearly is one of those movies. Based upon the Stephen King short story that is shorter than this review will be, someone rolled the dice on making this thing and to be honest, I am somewhat impressed with the result.
The main character, Bill Gartley, is played by Robert Englund. As opposed to Freddy Kreuger, in this one he really sounds a lot like Jeff Bridges. Or maybe Jeff Bridges sounds like Englund (that whiny, earnest voice). Or maybe they should settle this in the ring – whoever wins gets control of the voice and the other has to choose a different voice. Back to the story -- Bill is one of those “shoots from the hip” types of guy and, as The Mangler starts its mangling, his self-righteousness leads him to investigate the cause of these so-called “accidents”.
Bill simply believes that The Mangler is a faulty machine and needs to be sent to the metal graveyard. His friend Mark (Daniel Matmor), however, serves up a helping of crazy as he believes the machine is possessed with demonic powers. As Mark conducts more research, he realizes that every year, a sixteen year old virgin has been killed accidentally by the Mangler. Wait a second, how old is little Suzy? Why, sixteen tomorrow! You get the picture.
That’s essentially the story and even though all of the killings basically occur within an arm’s length of The Mangler, the movie is surprisingly watchable. The fact that this laundry machine is possessed is a little ridiculous, but it’s just fun to watch different people get eaten up by The Mangler. Another cool part is that the victim in not only mangled after going through the machine, but at the end of the conveyor belt, the remaining chewed-up meat carcass is promptly folder and pressed like laundry. Light on the starch please!
My favorite part of the movie occurs at the end when The Mangler actually chases after its prey. I guess the director figures if you are watching by this point in the movie, you have suspended disbelief and won’t ask stupid questions like “How can The Mangler move down the hall when it is a 3 ton machine?” It’s The Mangler! It can do whatever it wants.
If you want a relatively campy, old-80’s feeling horror movie, you could do a lot worse. Stephen King is the suspense “king” (that was bad) and anyone that can make a machine like a laundry press scary is okay in my book.
RATING: *** (out of four)