Robert Englund as William ‘Bill’ Gartley
Ted Levine as Officer John Hunton
Daniel Matmor as Mark Jackson
Jeremy Crutchley as J.J.J. Pictureman/Mortician
Vanessa Pike as Sherry Ouelette
Demetre Phillips as George Stanner
Lisa Morris as Lin Sue
Vera Blacker as Mrs. Adelle Frawley
Ashley Hayden as Annette Gillian
Danny Keogh as Herb Diment
Ted Le Plat as Doctor Ramos
Todd Jensen as Roger Martin
Sean Taylor as Derrick Gates
Gerrit Schoonhoven as Aaron Rodriguez
Nan Hamilton as Mrs. Ellenshaw
Alternate Edit Comparison
Original Theatrical Trailer
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Surround Sound
Running Time: 106 Minutes
This film was originally released in 1995.
In a New England industrial laundry, workers toil away feeding sheets into a large machine known as the Mangler. However, it more than earns its nickname when one of the plant workers is injured by it, then a short time later another is killed and mutilated by it. This doesn’t seem to disturb the laundry owner William ‘Bill’ Gartley. In fact, he seems more inconvenienced by it than shocked. However, police detective John Hunton takes a particular interest in the accident and starts investigating what went wrong.
As the angry Hunton digs deeper, he discovers a strange history behind the Mangler. His occult obsessed neighbor Mark Jackson even starts to convince him that the Mangler is possessed by a demon. Is it possible? How did it happen? And can Hunton stop it before it kills again?
The Mangler is rated R for gory horror violence and language.
The Mangler has a pretty good pedigree behind it. It was directed by Tobe Hooper, the director of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It was based on a short story by Stephen King. It starred Richard Englund from A Nightmare On Elm Street and Ted Levine from Silence of The Lambs. Horror gold, right? Wrong. The movie isn’t really scary, it’s at times absurd, and it generally fails on many levels.
The first problem with The Mangler is the fact that it tries to make industrial machinery scary. While it’s a worthy challenge, it just doesn’t work. The only time it’s able to hurt anyone is when people get too close to it. Any time someone puts their hand near it, you know they’re about to be killed and you don’t have a lot of sympathy for them. After all, if your co-worker was killed in the machine less then 24 hours before, it’s your own stupid fault if you get killed the same way a short time later. It’s also not scary because people aren’t killed in different and creative ways. They’re just mangled over and over in an identical manner. It gets old. The movie also gets silly when a possessed refrigerator attacks our heroes. Somehow it lacks the menace of an axe wielding psycho. It eventually does become more than a stationary killing machine, but that just makes it even more absurd.
The other problem with the film is the acting. As awesome as Ted Levine was as Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs, he just doesn’t make that great of an angry cop in The Mangler. I know he’s supposed to be a sort of anti-hero, but his voice and mannerisms aren’t the makings of a lead character. Robert Englund is also a bit fake as the crippled old man. He’s not very menacing and he comes across as particularly silly, especially at the end. Every other actor in the film is pretty forgettable.
Overall, what should have been the Horror Dream Team only ends up delivering a mediocre and occasionally silly horror flick that is utterly forgettable.
The main extra on this DVD is the Alternate Edit Comparison. This version of the film was apparently the “Director’s Cut” and is different from the theatrical version. This feature shows the exact differences with a split screen. However, the differences are so minor that they are laughable. The main thing is that during the mangling scenes, the camera lingers on the gore half second longer here and there. It’s so minor that it seems absurd that it was edited for the theatrical release.
The Bottom Line:
This one is only for die hard horror enthusiasts, and even they may be very disappointed.