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Film / The Mangler

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Sadly, there's no robotized Robert Englund in the film.

There is a fate worse than death.

The Mangler is a horror film adapted from a short story The Mangler by Stephen King. Released in 1995, it was directed by Tobe Hooper and stars Robert Englund and Ted Levine. There are two sequels.

The first film has the examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: There's no way that the rather sparse short story could have made a feature film, so the filmmakers invented a plot about Gartley and other local businessmen forming a cult to accumulate wealth and power in exchange for sacrificing their daughters.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Gartley doesn't make a direct appearance in the original short story and isn't hinted to be involved with the possession of the speed ironer. He's implied at worst to be a corner-cutting cheapskate rather than a cackling Corrupt Corporate Executive. Sherry likewise isn't Gartley's niece, doesn't pull a Face–Heel Turn, and doesn't take over the laundry.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The mangler starts chasing the protagonists after they botch the exorcism.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: Hunton is doing this in his introductory scene.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Sherry and Annette are covered by Frawley's blood when she is caught by the machine.
  • Bloody Handprint: Sherry leaves one on the icebox when she hurts her hand.
  • Chase Scene: The climax of the film is the mangler getting off of its hinges after a failed exorcism attempt and chasing after the protagonists.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Mrs. Frawley's antacid medication. Her spilling them into the machine at the beginning seemed to just be an unfortunate accident that led to her Cruel and Unusual Death in the jaws of the Mangler. It turned out to be much worse when it's revealed that the key ingredient in those pills is belladonna. Cue Oh, Crap!.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Mr. Gartley is corrupt both in a mundane sense (uses his power and connections to keep his business out of trouble) and a supernatural sense (the whole "runs a satanic death cult" thing).
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Poor, poor Mrs. Frawley. No human body was made to be pressed, steamed, and folded like a piece of linen...
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: To Sherry, as she is next to be sacrificed for power.
  • Deal with the Devil: Mr. Gartley got his power thanks to the beast in the machine.
  • Death by Adaptation: George Stanner survives the loss of his arm in the story, and the incident which injures him happens under very different circumstances.
  • Disturbed Doves: Doves appear randomly when a picture is taken on the scene of Mary's death
  • Drop the Hammer: When the icebox attacks Mark, Hunton grabs a sledge hammer and starts beating on it.
  • The End... Or Is It?: In the end it turns out that Sherry is now one of the machine's followers.
  • Evil Cripple: Mr. Gartley.
  • Evil Uncle: Mr. Gartley to Sherry.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Mr. Gartley's half-dark glasses.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Lin and Sherry both become evil under the machine's influence.
  • Fingore: Lin's hand is caught by the mangler and loses one of her fingers. It turns out to be a part of the initiation to be one of the rich and powerful people of the town.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Mark when the mangler kills him.
  • Heel–Face Turn: George Stanner, the factory foreman, turns against Gartley and tries to shut off the machine himself after Lin's accident. It doesn't go well for him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Averted when Sherry tries to sacrifice herself to the mangler to stop it, but Hunton forces her out of it.
  • Hollywood Exorcism: Tried against the machine, which backfires.
  • Hostile Weather: Thunder rolls in the background when Hunton and Mark are on their way to exorcise the mangler.
  • Human Sacrifice: The beast in the mangler requires 16 year old virgins to be sacrificed to it if it were to grant power to someone.
  • Inappropriate Hunger: The morgue worker is eating cherry tomatoes when Hunton visits the place.
  • It's All About Me: Gartley says this almost verbatim to Sherry as he prepares to sacrifice her.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: George forces his buddy to cut off his arm when he is caught by the mangler. He dies from the blood loss.
  • My Greatest Failure: For Hunton it is getting his wife killed in a car accident.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Gartley's dark, cramped, closed-off factory with outdated machines and few safety measures beyond a handful of railings looks more like a relic from the Industrial Revolution era than any modern factory. Justified as Gartley's using his influence with the machine (and connections in town) to keep things running like they always have. When some local officials perform a "safety inspection" after the first accident, they do an extremely cursory examination of the machine and allow Gartley to reopen the factory with no questions asked.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: The movie was largely filmed in South Africa and there are a lot of local actors struggling to sound convincingly American. Daniel Matmor (Mark) and Vanessa Pike (Sherry) at least try, although their accents noticably slip throughout the film. Jeremy Crutchley (Pictureman) doesn't even bother, speaking in his trademark Anglo-South African rasp throughout the movie.
  • Oh, Crap!: Hunton, Sherry and Mark when they realize there was belladonna in the machine after all, courtesy of Mrs. Frawley's pills.
    Mark: I think we may be fucked.
  • The Power of Blood: The mangler starts craving for a sacrifice when Sherry's blood is caught on it.
  • Red Right Hand: Machine's followers have a piece of themselves inside the thing.
  • Squashed Flat: Anyone caught by the mangler.
  • Too Dumb to Live: When Jackson and Hunton are planning the exorcism, Jackson explains that demons who have been summoned with "the Hand of Glory" are much harder to kill. Since the Hand of Glory (or as it's known by its more common name, belladonna) doesn't grow anywhere in the surrounding region, they both assume that this particular demon was summoned without it. Consequently, they expect an easy exorcism, and arm themselves accordingly. They don't even bother taking any extra precautions, just in case they're wrong. Boy, does that turn out to be a big mistake...
  • Virgin Power: Sherry's blood brings the mangler and the icebox alive.
  • Vomiting Cop: Officer Hunton after seeing what was left of poor Mrs. Frawley after the machine was done with her.
  • Wham Line: After the exorcism is done and Sherry is saved, Hunton celebrates by popping a few of Mrs. Frawley's antacid pills, and passes the bottle to Mark so he can have a couple. But that's when Mark reads the label and notices the main ingredient. All while they're still mere feet away from the Mangler.
    Mark:Belladona? You got these from Mrs. Frawley?
    Hunton: The Hand of Glory?
    Mark: I think we may be fucked.

The sequels have the examples of:

  • Computer Virus: The antagonist of the second film.
  • Dead Star Walking: Reggie Bannister of Phantasm fame gets a little bit of screen time in Reborn before Hadley catches him.
  • Facial Horror: By the end of Reborn, half of Hadley's face has rotted away, revealing his teeth.
  • Drop the Hammer: Hadley's weapon of choice is a rubber mallet.
  • Goth: Jo in 2 has this look about her, and has a stereotypical rebellious bad attitude to match.
  • I Am the Noun: In Reborn:
    Jamie: Fuck you and fuck your machine!
    Hadley: I am the machine.
  • In Name Only: Mangler 2's connection to the first film? The computer virus is called Mangler and there's a scene where a random girl is killed by a laundry machine.
  • Jitter Cam: It's sometimes hard to discern what the hell is supposed to be going on in 2.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Emily in 2 spends a lot of time being chased in her bikini.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: While not technically a vampire, the possessed Hadley has to drink the bloody sludge of the Mangler's victims to sustain his rotting body.
  • Troll: The Mangler virus in 2 enjoys playing with its food by making petty taunts and ridiculous pop cultural references while it chases them.
  • The Unblinking: After being possessed, Hadley almost has his eyes wide open, to eerie effect.

Alternative Title(s): The Mangler Reborn, The Mangler 2