Thursday, January 5, 2017

'90s Trash: The Mangler (1995)

Not every Stephen King Story NEEDS to be a Movie.  Today's Film is The Mangler, a 1995 'Classic' that is somewhere up there with Dreamcatcher and The Lawnmower Man in the King Film hierarchy.  You're no Silver Bullet, but you aren't quite as bad as Creepshow 3.  The Film tells the tale of a seemingly-normal machine that comes to life and kills people.  It only gets sillier and crazier as time goes on, somehow involving a conspiracy of rich people and human sacrifice.  It comes to us from Tobe Hooper...although he was fired/quit before the Film was finished.  That hasn't happened to Hooper since 1982's Venom.  Notable Cast includes Ted Levine- about 3 years after playing Buffalo Bill- and Robert Englund.  I guess that would explain why he was in Hooper's Masters of Horror Episode.  Depending on how good this one turns out to be, I may do that one next.  Is The Mangler a Film that shouldn't be remembered or one that shouldn't be so obscure?  To find out, read on...
At a Factory that apparently does lots of Laundry, a series of sudden events happen.  First, this lady cuts her hand on a lever and does what anyone would do- point said hand at the machine.
Secondly, two guys moving an Icebox (in a Laundry Facility?) nearly drop it, causing it to bump into the Machine- nicknamed the Mangler- and sparks to fly out.
Lastly, it has to fail a safety feature when a person does the dumbest thing ever and tries to reach into a giant laundry press.  She a messy way.
A Detective- Levine- investigates the case, but it is quickly ignored by the City Inspector.  Naturally, he turns to...his Brother-in-Law?

Seriously, it takes 10 minutes of them talking before he's identified!
What does this have to do with the evil Owner of the Factory?  The answer is damn silly.
Brother-in-Law is all about Magic and Mystery,  Since this is a Movie, all of that stuff about Human Sacrifice and Demonic Spirits in the Machine are true.

It sure would be nice to see a Film where they espouse all of this stuff and it's wrong, wouldn't it?
So what is the Story exactly?  Well, Englund has been doing human sacrifices of 16 year-old rich girls to keep himself alive.

This, of course, was unrelated to the Mangler itself until recently...and now he's dead.
The Exorcism goes awry thanks to a Chekhov's Antacid (new one!) and the Mangler gets more powerful, turning into a terrible CG creation.
In the End, the creature stops after Levine and the intended victim get away...only to later find out that the girl losing a finger has now made her evil...or something.  Way to be Manos.  The End.
Silly, ridiculous and kind of dumb.  For starters, they turned a 10 page Short Story into a 90 minute Film.  I guess I should be glad that they didn't stretch it into 3 Films!  All of the Subplots- added.  Hell, the Character of the Factory Owner doesn't actually appear in the Short Story, so his stuff is just all made up for the Film.  So, let me try to sum up the Plot for you.  A rich guy sacrifices girls to keep himself alive and some Demon kills them in a machine.  Said Machine was apparently always evil, but didn't get outwardly evil until the girl's blood splashed on it.  What is the deal with the Icebox full of souls?  See I thought the idea was that an evil soul escaped the Icebox, but apparently it might be the opposite.  It is possible that the Film explained this more clearly, but it just piled up the dumb so quickly that I kind of zoned out.  How did you make a Story about a Demon-possessed Laundry Machine even dumber?!?  I haven't even gotten the part where the Mangler somehow breaks free of its power source and foundation to chase them through a hallway!  Kudos to Levine and Englund for trying to make this whole silly thing fun.  Ultimately, The Mangler is just plain dumb...but at least it had an actual Budget (making it superior to the 2005 Sequel).  It does teach you a valuable lesson about why you should be careful when disposing of old Appliances though...
Next up, a somewhat-ignored Cronenberg Film.  Will the return of Art Hindle mean another good Film?  Stay tuned...

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