Directed by Tobe Hooper. Starring Robert Englund, Ted Levine, Daniel Matmor, Jeremy Crutchley, Demetre Phillips. (1995, R, 106 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 10, 1995
Adapted from the short story by Stephen “Bad Film Adaptations of My Work Only Make Me Stronger” King, this pointless exercise in tweaking the suits at the MPAA ratings board serves only to show how much gore filmmakers can once more indulge in without fear of reprisals and/or lengthy cuts to their work. And Hooper, erstwhile wunderkind behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, proves once and for all that he's the Michael Cimino of horror films. A tale of demonic possession in an industrial laundromat, The Mangler comes across as flat as the hospital linen its evil, hulking Steam Ironer and Folder puts the business to. It's all set design and bloody effects, and while that might have been just fine during the early to mid-Eighties splatter movie boom, it's just plain boring now. Englund, of Freddie Krueger fame, is laughably over the top as the laundry's corrupt owner, a horribly scarred, paraplegic maniac intent on working his sweatshop employees to death, literally. Ted Levine (best known as serial killer Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs) is police officer John Hunton, a man with a predictably haunted past and a beery, “piss off, I'm a cop” attitude. If you can get past the creepy feeling of watching Buffalo Bill as a good guy, you'll note that Levine's performance is the film's only saving grace, poorly written though the part is. Perhaps it's time for Tobe Hooper to hang up his light meter. After a string of disappointments culminating in this silly waste of time, it's hard to care if horror's golden boy carries on or not. Forget The Mangler. Go do your laundry instead.