An industrial laundry machine becomes possessed by a demonic
presence, and only a washed-up cop and his brother-in-law can stop it.
The Mangler (1995)
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Written by Tobe Hooper, Stephen David Brooks, Harry Alan Towers
Starring Robert Englund, Ted Levine, Daniel Matmor, Vanessa Pike, Jeremy Crutchley, Demetre Phillips, Lisa Morris
Based on the short story by Stephen King
I have a specific ritual when it comes to the work of Stephen King. I prefer to read the books and short stories before I see the film adaptations. That way, I can judge the film based on not just quality, but on accuracy. When I read Night Shift years ago, and I found out films had been made from "Graveyard Shift," "Sometimes They Come Back," "The Lawnmower Man," and "The Mangler," I immediately wanted to see them, no matter how critically panned they were. To date, The Mangler is the only one I've been able to get hold of, and I had heard it was pure dogfuck, as Officer Hunton would say. In truth, I kinda liked it. Sure, it had problems, but I think the worst crime a film can commit is to be boring, and this certainly wasn't.
Enter Blue Ribbon Laundry, owned by the tyrannical and sadistic Bill Gartley (Englund). A string of horrific accidents with an industrial sheet folder attracts the attention of burned-out, cynical Officer John Hunton (Levine). Hunton thinks someone is cutting corners at the laundry, but his brother-in-law Mark (Matmor) believes the machine has become possessed by a demonic presence and must be exorcised. Events transpire that convince Hunton, and together they try to fight the mangler and uncover the dark history of human sacrifice that the rich people of Rikers Valley have been hiding. Sure, it's weird and, at times, confusing. Also, it's barely recognizable from King's story. But I adore Ted Levine, and some of the dialogue is hilarious.
The Mangler is surprisingly not the worst Stephen King movie ever made, and if you're looking for a goofy but watchable horror flick for a Friday night, you could do worse. Robert Englund and Ted Levine do their best to make this thing enjoyable, and the death scenes are incredibly gory. Honestly, it's not a bad watch.