The Greatest Horror Movie Moments!
by: Dr. Boogie

The Mangler

When you've been in the writing game for as long as Steven King has, you're bound to have a misstep or two. In the case of The Mangler, King wrote a short story about an industry laundry press that kills people. Kind of frightening, sure, but not enough there to fill out an entire novel, and certainly not enough for a feature-length film. Nevertheless, a film was made once a few writers (including director Tobe Hooper of TCM fame) were brought in to pad out the script.

The problem is that, no matter how you fill out the ninety minutes, you're still talking about a laundry machine that kills people. Large, stationary objects, even those possessed by demons, just aren't that scary. Can you imagine if "Christine" had been about a car with no wheels that had to lure people into looking under its hood so it could snap their heads off?

That's the problem in a nutshell. Then you've got your main character, Officer John Hunton, played by Ted Levine (aka Buffalo Bill), who sounds like he's stuck in some kind of temporal vortex that makes his voice sound like he's always talking in slow motion. Even that, however, is less distracting than the odd performance given by horror veteran Robert Englund. He plays Bill Gartley, villain of the story and owner of the Mangler, though I suppose it's redundant to say that a person who owns something called "The Mangler" is a bad guy.

At one point, his floor manager is caught up in the machine, and the onlookers scream at him to do something. So what does he do?

"What do you mean the laundry smells like cigars?"
"I'll do somethin'! I'll do a little DANCE! That's what I'll do! I'll do a little jig for ya!"

It's his displays of cartoonish villainy that make his demise all the more satisfying, and it's the subject of our latest Horror Moment.

At the film's climax, our cast engages in an all-out battle to see who can shove who into the Mangler. Hunton's sidekick wins out over Gartley's sidekick, and she gets thrown in. Surprised and angry, Gartley summons all the strength his elderly, polio-stricken body can muster. He tosses our hero aside and picks himself up.

The yoga position known as the "downward-facing Englund".

Snarling and spitting, Gartley wanders to the back of the machine to see if any part of his former girlfriend has made it through. Some did, as it turns out.

How did her head get down there?

I'm not sure how her head made it through a series of rollers unscathed, but there it is. He turns to Hunton and casually remarks, "Out of time?" Unfortunately for Gartley, Hunton's one-liners only come in one style: punchy!

Good teamwork by the Mangler!

Things quickly go from bad to worse for Gartley, as Hunton's punch knocks him into the waiting arm of the Mangler. The arm doesn't seem like it really belongs on a piece of turn-of-the-century industrial laundry machinery, but it's a bit pointless to question things this late in the film.

The arm gingerly delivers Gartley over to the finishing area, where we learn that the front of the Mangler isn't necessarily the most dangerous part.

Always make sure you aren't wearing your pants when you have them pressed.

Like Kenny Rogers said, "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em."

Though his shins have been compressed into his diaphragm, Gartley manages to sputter out one more line:

Don't act with your tongue, Robert.
"My God, who art in Hell, cursed be thy name!"

I think my grandmother had that embroidered on a throw pillow.

Overall, The Mangler is a pretty bad movie, but it does have its moments. You do get some humor here and there, like when Hunton fights an evil icebox, or the scene where, shortly after an old woman gets ground into hamburger by the Mangler, the EMTs have to carry her remains to the ambulance in a bloody sack.

Well, I thought it was funny.

Banana peel!

Have any questions or comments about this piece?


Reader Comments

Forum Virgin
Oct 31st, 2011, 04:08 PM
I saw this movie quite a few years ago & i must admit...it didn't leave as much of an impression on me as it did....Robert Englund!!! HAHAHA!!! (Freddy Laugh)
I hate this hacker crap!
Nov 13th, 2011, 09:40 AM
I wonder how many movies based on his books Stephen King actually likes or thinks was a good idea to begin with.
Nov 27th, 2011, 06:36 AM
After an adolescence filled with god-awfully-great King adaptations, I was genuinely excited for THE MANGLER. I was not disappointed in the MST3K regard, but one particular quote has stuck with me for 17 years: Buffalo Bill's deadpan delivery of "I think...we might...be fucked". Classic.
Funky Dynamite
Nov 28th, 2011, 07:01 PM
That was actually his wimpy treehugger brother who said that line. Still good, though.
frappez le cochon rouge
Nov 30th, 2011, 11:02 AM
Ted Levine is great in every movie.

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