THE MANGLER (1995) Reviews and overview

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‘It has a crush on you!’

The Mangler is a 1995 American supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper (Poltergeist; Salem’s Lot; The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) from a screenplay co-written with Stephen Brooks and Harry Alan Towers [as Peter Welbeck]. It is based upon the Stephen King short story of the same name which appeared in his inaugural short story collection, Night Shift.

The movie stars Robert Englund, Ted Levine and Daniel Matmor.

The Mangler, in Gartley’s Blue Ribbon Laundry service, is a laundry press owned by Bill Gartley (Englund). His niece, Sherry (Pike), accidentally cuts herself on a lever connected to the machine and splashes blood on the Mangler’s tread while trying to avoid being crushed by an old icebox some movers are clumsily carrying past.

Later, an elderly worker, struggling to open a bottle of antacids, spills them on the moving tread. When she attempts to collect them, the safety shield inexplicably lifts up and traps her hand inside, followed by her entire body getting pulled into the machine, crushed and folded like a sheet…

The Mangler was released by Scream Factory on Blu-ray on December 11, 2018. The disc features reversible artwork.

New 4K of the original camera negative for the uncut version
New Audio Commentary with co-writer Stephen David Brooks
New Hell’s Bells – an interview with actor Robert Englund
Rare behind-the-scenes footage
Theatrical Trailer
TV Spot


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“Robert Englund has an overplayed hoot under layers of prosthetics as the disfigured and crazy laundry owner, complete with eye-patch and leg braces. Ted Levine, fresh off success as Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs, plays the detective charged with solving the case. It’s hardly both actors’ best work but they’re not bad and at least give the film some level of competency that it doesn’t really warrant.” Popcorn Pictures

“Everything seems designed and costumed to a point of cartoonish realism – from Jeremy Crutchley’s press photographer who seems a ludicrous caricature of what people imagined a press photographer was in the 1940s to Robert Englund’s overdressed villain to the laundry itself, which becomes a sweating foundry that has pits in its basement that seem to go all the way to the bowels of the Earth.” Richard Scheib, Moria

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“While the story was only 20 pages long and used its ludicrous idea superbly, Hooper’s The Mangler goes on way too long and incorporates way too many ideas. And yet there’s still something interesting about it, perhaps because of Hooper’s sure touch or perhaps because of the lead performance by Ted Levine (The Silence of the Lambs).” Combustible Celluloid

Contemporary reviews:

The Mangler is ludicrous from start to finish: its plot lines dangle, its effects fail to dazzle and the acting and directing are uniformly bad. […] even the least demanding of genre fans will be hard-pressed to tremble in its presence.” The Washington Post

” …The Mangler comes across as flat as the hospital linen its evil, hulking Steam Ironer and Folder puts the business to. It’s all set design and bloody effects, and while that might have been just fine during the early to mid-Eighties splatter movie boom, it’s just plain boring now.” The Austin Chronicle

” …formulaic to the point of absurdity, entails many reels of pointless running around and milking of subplots. With its clunky narrative and lack of solid scares or gory effusions until the obligatory all-stops-out climax, pic ends up with little to excite fans of Elm Street-style shockers or Hooper’s own Poltergeist.” Variety

“The climactic man-machine battle is one of the sloppier mini-Armageddons to hit the screen in a while. With its hysterical Bible recitations and poorly choreographed battles and chases, it offers the horror-movie equivalent of visual and verbal gibberish.” The New York Times

“This might have been mildly interesting if someone had put an ounce of effort into the script and if Hooper had set the story far in the past. As is, he and the design team are seeking an eerily Gothic look. Hooper could have also made at least a token attempt to create one interesting or sympathetic character and shot more than one take per scene — even by horror standards, the acting here is lame.” David Kronke, Los Angeles Times

Main cast and characters:

Robert Englund … William ‘Bill’ Gartley
Daniel Matmor … Mark Jackson
Ted Levine … Officer John Hunton
Vanessa Pike … Sherry Ouelette
Jeremy Crutchley … JJJ Pictureman / Mortician
Lisa Morris … Lin Sue
Demetre Phillips … George Stanner

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