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"And did the Countenance Divine Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And
was Jerusalem builded here Among these dark Satanic mills? "
William Blake, "Jerusalem", 1795
"We all have to make sacrifices!" --from the Mangler-screenplay, 1995
Coming from Stephen King's 1978 collection of shorts, "Night Shift", Tobe Hooper brings us his very different-take: a parable of 19th Century, proprietary-capitalism and the nightmare of the American-workplace. This film is what labor-conditions were 100-years-ago, and what they could easily become again if we aren't too-careful. Since the discovery of a slave-sweatshop in El Monte, California a few-years after the release of this film, it isn't so fantastic. Maybe some of us were too-comfortable to "get" this film in the Clinton-era. Most people don't get this film at-all, even just watching it on its surface-levels. It's a real hoot! Yep, you can watch it with a beer, and you can watch it with an open-mind thinking about its deeper-meanings, or you can do both. And--shocker!--ALL of them are FUN.
Tobe Hooper has said for-decades he wanted to do comedy, and he comes close here, which helps this film from being too-oppressive. Ithink Hooper understood the story better than Stephen King--it seems King worked in a clothes-pressing plant like this one in the 1960s, which gave-rise to it, but Hooper has always struck me as politically-radical in his approach-to-horror. The best horror usually has a real subversive-edge, and this is what makes this a good one. Sure, it's hokey, but it has its tongue firmly-planted in its cheek, it is jokey. It also has some sub-themes in the lines, "There's a piece of me in that machine--and a piece of it in me." It speaks well of how people are spiritually-contaminated by our system. The disease is greed.
If it wasn't for Ted Levine ("Buffalo Bill" in Silence of the Lambs) as the bedraggled town-cop John Hunton, Robert Englund would literally steal-the-show here. Tobe uses some great low-shots and wide-angle lens compositions (ala "Citizen Kane") that lend the film a great comic-book look, and make Englund shine as a despicable-villain. The irony is, mill-owner Gartley is also a victim of the machine, even robbing him of the ability to walk. He's also half-blind, which makes-sense. The characters are pretty well-drawn, and we learn that Detective Hunton has some baggage left-behind from the death of his wife in a car-accident, years-earlier. The town is run like a virtual-dictatorship by Gartley, who basically represents the "robber-barons" of the 19th century (as well as today), completely-uncaring about the safety and welfare of his employees. A man who has lost his humanity. Sound familiar?
Eventually, an accident occurs where the niece of Englund's character spills her own blood on the "Mangler", a clothes-press that must be 100-years-old. Another shop-employee spills her belladonna-laced antacids into the guts of the machine, and it begins taking-victims...and parts. Oddly, all the people Bill Gartley "owns" (the Mayor, the Police Chief, Doctors, etc.) have missing-fingers. Of course, the premise of a demoniacally-possessed machine is fantasy, which is what makes the story a parable, but it's fun. Over-time, Detective Hunton finds that the Gartley dynasty has been-sacrificing their own young to the infernal-machine for a century, and now they're "spreading-the-love". Don't all employers? Some require the blood of a virgin!
So, people have been wrong about this one. It's a minor-classic of a bad-decade for horror. The genre has its fallow-periods where interest isn't as-high, and 1995 wasn't exactly a banner-year for horror-buffs. And quit-comparing every film a director does to their most well-known ones, it's emotionally-retarded. This is a solid horror-film, and if it had been presented in the proper-context, would have been better-appreciated. The short-story is good, but this is better, and Stephen King sure isn't Edgar Allan Poe or Lovecraft ferchrissakes. The New Line DVD is great, it has a perfect widescreen-transfer, and even includes the gore that was cut with split-screen comparisons to the theatrical-version. A great horror-film, and a respectable one for Tobe Hooper. Now you can all go and rewatch the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre"--just don't touch-yourself so-much this time. We all have to make sacrifices, after-all. Ignore the other reviews, those people are snobs.
A 3.0? Really? Have horror fans suddenly come down with a case of collective amnesia in the facts in the case of Tobe Hooper? The same director whose signature traits include a smattering of extreme gore garnished with dark humor? The man who made one of the most influential, landmark films of the 1970s ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre")? I mean, granted, Hooper's career has been frustratingly inconsistent overall, but "The Mangler"--easily one of his most maligned works--is an unsung gem that suggests his tongue was planted firmly in cheek, but nobody really noticed. While the concept alone has "disaster" written all over it (a feature-film rendering of a Stephen King short story), what Hooper does with (and to) "The Mangler" is, really, what should have been done with "Graveyard Shift": he tears into the story with the veracity of a mental patient chewing the head off a rag-doll, elevating the absurdist elements to their breaking point, filling the film with (un)intentional humor to counteract the bloodletting, and fleshing out the characters and concept into a satisfying marriage of B-movie bliss. The plot? It's all about an anachronistic laundry facility where an ugly beast of a steam press starts folding the employees into bloody pulp; a pill-popping, chain-smoking local cop (Ted Levine) and his wiccan brother-in-law (Daniel Matmor) suspect foul play on the part of the disabled owner (Robert Englund, once again under a heavy latex mask), but the real reason is much more sinister (Hooper does succeed in making a compelling argument for the ridiculous explanation). While I haven't read King's short story, I will say that the script (by Hooper, Stephen Brooks, and Peter Welbeck) efficiently captures the quirky, small-town mannerisms of his characters, juxtaposed against evil spawned out of the banal territory of Everyday Life. While Hooper is unable to sustain the tricky balance between terror and dark humor that has made "Texas Chainsaw" so endearing, he ultimately transforms "The Mangler" into a sturdy, clean-burning B movie, buoyed by fantastic performances by Englund and especially Levine (who seems to be operating under the influence of a perpetual hangover).
While on the surface this movie may seem a little silly, trite horror movie, having worked in a manufacturing environment for the last 12 years, I found it fascinating. The contrast between workers and top management, the lack of regard for employee's safety, the willingness to literally sacrifice to the almighty machine were too close to reality. The extreme portrayal of the main characters, laborers so meek and owners so owned by wealth, are reminiscent of Dickens. The FX were startling and exceptional. I loved this film and I don't love films very often. Even the over acting was great, because the roles required overacting. And woven through the whole story was the mundane and relatively normal main character.
This movie rocked. It scared the heck out of me and I loved it.
I'm one of those who believe that Stephen King owes a very large debt
of gratitude to H.P. Lovecraft (1890-1937.) In all fairness to King,
though, he has graciously acknowledged Lovecraft's many important
contributions to literary horror.
It's possible that director Tobe Hooper also recognized Lovecraft's significance when adapting The Mangler for the big screen. The short-story version does not offer a substantive historical link between the present-day and the genesis of the demon machine in the 1920s; the decade when Lovecraft began his short but illustrious writing career. Hooper took great pains, however, to develop an atmosphere that evokes the New England of Lovecraft's youth; a period when mill towns offered the only refuge for immigrants and native poor unable to make a living off the land. It was a time before the New Deal social reforms of President Franklin Roosevelt offered some relief from the exploitative and dangerous conditions inflicted on America's working class. For me, the philosophical sub-text of The Mangler is the evils of unbridled, industrial capitalism. The fact that rural communities have often depended for their very existence on a dehumanizing local industry is not lost on the socially progressive King.
Some have characterized The Mangler as an outstanding B-movie. I prefer to regard it as an all around entertaining flick. Although such films tend to be formulaic, Hooper and co-screenwriter Stephen David Brooks deserve credit for fleshing-out King's short story in a laudable fashion. The film's characters are well developed, and Robert Englund's portrayal of Bill Gartley, the grotesquely maimed, delightfully evil owner of the laundry machine from hell, should have earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor (a nod that should also have gone to Fred Gwynne for his fine work in Pet Sematary.) Ted Levine, and the versatile Jeremy Crutchley -- who portrayed two different characters in The Mangler -- also turned in noteworthy performances. Last but not least, the film's surprise ending, totally different from the climax of the original short story, is satisfying and appropriate.
Despite the overwhelming popularity of his novels, I believe that King's lesser works best demonstrate his creative gifts. The short story format demands an economy of words and a disciplined approach that can result in high emotional impact for readers. Short stories also provide additional latitude for movie makers to offer their unique interpretation of the work. The film adaptation of The Mangler is a fine example of the creative synergy between literary and cinematic artists, and a must-see for horror fans.
Robert Englund is the evil owner of the laundry company who has the ancient steam press that periodically sucks workers into its bowels,turning them into bloody mess.Ted Levine stars as the local sheriff who is called in to investigate the deaths and solve the mystery.Levine discovers the steam press was possessed when a virgin cut her hand into it's gears causing it to come to life.And Englund wants to make his niece the next human sacrifice to unleash the evil."The Mangler" is an enjoyable little flick filled with plenty of gore.It's based on Stephen King's short story in his famous collection "Night Shift".Admittedly the plot is pretty silly and there are some huge lapses in logic,but who cares.I wanted grue and this flick provided it in spades.7 out of 10.Much better than crappy sequel that followed.
This is absolutely great film, seen 10+ times now and gets better every-time. Sometimes if i don't know what to watch i think why not watch mangler because its always better than last time so usually i will put it on. sometimes i will flip a coin to see if i watch something else but even if it lands on the other film I'll still draw for the mangler. The characters are great. the guy that takes pictures is my favorite character but i like the factory owner as well. He is a real great as well. The plot is very complex. At first you think everything is fine but then all of a sudden it gets very strange but i don't want to spoil the story so I'll not tell you any more. i don't know why it has only got a low rating here. me and my friends all think its really good and would give it 10 stars at least!
I am always getting alot of negative feedback about this movie but
on people!!! A Stephen King flick starring Robert Englund? You can't get
garbage from them. They assembled a very dark and horrific tale about a
killer laundry machine. I know, when one thinks, "killer laundry
they will probably laugh right off the bat. WATCH THE MOVIE.
I would say that the reason why I think this movie is scary is because of the violent death scenes and the fact that there is very little humor throughout. You think, "killer laundry machine, what a joke!!" The movie says, "hold the phone, this is no joke". If my short review hasnt convinced a true horror fan that hasnt seen this yet to watch it, then just think, King and Englund. You refuse to watch it from there then you are NOT a true horror fan!! Bottom line. Give this one a chance. Please email me if you watched because of my suggestion.
This film had potential. I thought the special effects were impressive and the acting wasnt as bad as it seemed. It did have a cohesive plot without having to involve stupid teenagers. It didnt suck as much as people thought it suck! It is very creative on an extremely low budget so check it out if you haven't seen it.
I picked this one up in a hurry six years ago and now it sits in my living room. I expected a snore-fest but was surprised by how the filmmakers made such a silly premise both entertaining and somewhat original. Odd cast as well: Freddy vs. Buffalo Bill? -and who is this Matmor character? This movie was an hour and a half of unapologetic misery with above average writing, performances and special effects at a time where Stephen Kings work was being pushed onto TV in the form of Diluted MOW garbage. Not for everyone, but in the eyes of a horror fan it is fair to say that it could be Tobe Hooper's best work in years.
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