in Shocktober

Shocktober: Day 24

The Mangler (1995)

Oh, how the mighty had fallen with Tobe Hooper’s (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist) adaptation of this second tier Stephen King short story. Though Hooper’s career had been on the decline throughout most of the 80s this seemed to be the final nail in the coffin for his career in mainstream cinema.

The film was The Mangler, originally a short story published in Stephen King’s 1978 collection Night Shift. I’ve read and enjoyed Night Shift for many years but I’ve never understood why all the movies that have been adapted from stories in Night Shift have been so disappointing. Sometimes They Come Back (1991) was underwhelming, Graveyard Shift was a bust despite a sweet theme song, “The Ledge” and “Quitters In.” got crammed into the forgettable 1985 anthology film Cat’s Eye, “Trucks” became the campy King directed Maximum Overdrive, Lawnmower Man became well you know, but that’s okay the story wasn’t very good either, and Children of the Corn (although notable) has never been anything special.

Is Night Shift cursed when it comes to adaptations? Take King’s 1982 short story collection Different Seasons. Three of the four stories have become films and you know what they were? Apt Pupil (enjoyable), Stand By Me (awesome) and The Shawshank Redemption (also awesome). What’s wrong with Night Shift? And why did The Mangler have to get made?

To start, The Mangler is far from one of King’s best stories. He’s a gifted writer but even he has been guilty of going too far every once in awhile. By that, I mean off the deep end from creepiness into plain silliness, and I always thought this story was a little odd. The premise is that there is an industrial laundry folding machine in a factory that is possessed by a demon. That’s right, a laundry machine… Sure it’s a cool setting and we’ve probably all had that moment where we imagine an intimidating inanimate object coming to life, but come one, a laundry machine? Though at least when King did it, it was just in a quick short story, this is an entire movie that’s as dull as Dilbert and never seems to end.

A very hard to understand Ted Levine stars as Officer John Hunton, a surly detective investigating an accident at a laundry service owned by the eccentric Bill Gartley (Robert Englund) who has weird crutch legs. When a dark aura surrounding the factory starts to get to Hunton he turns to his hippie brother-in-law who is like “It must be a demon.” There isn’t any reason to ever believe this but Hunton does and they spend the rest of the movie trying to exorcise the machine while uncovering it’s dark past.

It’s all very dumb and very dull with the only highlight being Robert Englund giving an entertaining performance as the eccentric Gartley. I’ve always felt kind of bad for Robert Englund, sure he’s made a name for himself playing Freddy Krueger and for starring in other notable horror roles but he’s actually a very good actor. He’s classically trained and yet he’s been stuck to doing mostly subpar horror movies his whole life. Just a thought.

Maybe The Mangler could have worked as a short hour long  TV special, maybe. Unfortunately, we got this pointless schlocky thriller trying to capitalize off of King’s name. I didn’t like this movie it made me feel.. unclean.

  1. Thanx with the hard work, sustain the great perform Fantastic operate, I’m gonna begin a modest Website Engine training course function employing your internet site I really hope you get pleasure from running a blog using the common BlogEngine.internet.Thethoughts you express are truly great. Desire you may proper some a lot more posts.

Comments are closed.