I figured what better way to follow up a bad movie than with another bad movie. Today, I decided to watch The Mangler, a movie based on the short story of the same name from Night Shift. Remember how I said that this story wouldn’t work in lesser hands? As it turns out, I was right. Oddly enough, as I was watching it, I kept thinking that it might, I repeat might, work as an episode of “Tales from the Crypt” or a segment in an anthology movie like “Creepshow”. Heck, it may have even made for an entertaining episode of “The X-Files”. Instead, they stretch it out to a movie with a run time of almost 2 hours long, which is way too much for the material that’s there.
Ted Levine, yes Buffalo Bill himself, plays the lead as a jaded cop who investigates the murders. The closest thing we get to characterization is that he’s a “20 year man” who’s just waiting to get to his pension. He also lost his wife in some car accident. It’s not a huge factor, though it does lead to one of the characters to tell him to exorcise his demons. Get it? Because the laundry machine is a demon so it’s a metaphor or some literary BS like that. It doesn’t work.
As it happens, nothing in this movie works. The acting’s bad, the characters are two dimensional, and it’s not scary. Truth be told I was bored through a vast majority of the film. Even worse, the plot doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
It’s more coherent than Turkish Star Wars (though that’s not saying much) but the whole nature of the possession goes back and forth. In the story, it was simple. It was only through a series of random circumstances that the demon got into the machine. Well, that’s the case here but they add in Robert Englund’s character who’s implied to be the mastermind and has been sacrificing people for years in order to gain…immortality, I guess. I don’t know, this movie’s stupid. There’s also a haunted ice box that somehow plays a role. There’s also a running theme where people cut off their ring fingers as a way to. . . signify their allegiance or something.
There are a few “so bad it’s funny” moments, for instance near the end, Englund is about to capture his niece on her birthday and he leaves out a cake. He comes into the room and says things like “Happy Birthday Sherri” and “why don’t you blow out your candles and make a wish” only he’s saying it in a typical scheming villain voice, not even trying to hide the fact that he’s evil. Of course, I was suspicious from the get go when a girl severely cut her hand in the beginning and all sorts of other mishaps occurred and his only response is to tell everyone to get back to work.
There’s really no reason to watch this movie, don’t even rent it. You’re better off just reading the short story.