“The Mangler” is a movie about a laundry folding machine that becomes possessed by a demon during a collision with an ice box, after which it goes on a killing spree.
As you could probably guess from that brief synopsis, “The Mangler” is an adaptation from one of the lesser works of Stephen King. The premise is a bit over the top for sure, but it actually works better than I had expected. The bigger flaws with the film come from issues with the structure, as well as the constraints of the budget and available technology at the time.
Before diving into the negatives, there are actually some solid positives in “The Mangler”: Robert Englund plays a fantastically hammy villain who lights up every scene he is in, there are some pretty great gore effects, and the film does a good job of making the eponymous “Mangler” machine look honestly intimidating.
On to some negatives: the bulk of the story is put on the shoulders of Ted Levine, who seems incredibly miscast and uncomfortably as the lead. The plot gets really repetitive for most of the movie, with minimal forward momentum of the story until the last act. Worst of all are the special effects, which are glaringly terrible in the botched, awkwardly shot finale where the Mangler becomes mobile. It is evident throughout the sequence that there was no money available to show what the transformed Mangler looks like, so the audience is treated to awkward angles and the occasional CGI’d mechanical hand.
If it weren’t for the poor pacing and repetition in the body of the film, this would be an easy bad movie recommendation for me. There is hammy acting, silly effects, and the premise is unparalleled in outlandishness. The fact that the Mangler goes super-powered due to consuming antacids is just icing on the cake. If you can find a copy on the cheap, I can recommend giving it a shot, with the caveat that the entertainment value is inconsistent throughout the film.
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