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The Mangler Reborn

Directed by Erik Gardner, Matt Cunningham

Written by Erik Gardner, Matt Cunningham

Starring Aimee Brooks, Reggie Bannister, Weston Blakesley, Scott Speiser

Produced by Dan Golden, Scott Pearlman Mark Burnham, Barry Barnholtz

Rated R

85 minutes

***

The Mangler has been chugging along for quite some time. After its first lacklustre excursion, the creators brought in Freddy Kreuger hisself, a snarling, snappish, hissing snake of a Robert Englund to helm the second one. And in a very interesting way, it did sort of work.

But now, there’s the third one. Believability stretched to the limits, they couldn’t very well put this giant monstrousity back in a laundromat. No one cleans clothes like this today—even the oldest industrial laundry has found different methods.

Their response? To put it in the hands of a private collector.

So what we have here is the story of a true American moron. Apparently, after the second Mangler, and its inevitable deconstruction, a blue-collar family joe by the name of Hadley found parts from the homicidal laundry device and started to build a new machine from said parts.

Naturally, it doesn’t go well, and the parts scavenger starts a long, slow, ninety minute descent into madness.

As if that weren’t enough, to keep himself from decaying as a result of his possession by the evil laundry device, he’s got to feed it warm human bodies.

First off, I love that opening credit sequence. It’s been done before, but there’s nothing like a good old fashioned montage of newspaper clippings to show that a franchise has been running for a long, long time.

But then, almost as if to underscore the fact that we’re not dealing with a cultural phenomenon here, check out the fanservice at the eleven minute thirty second mark. That’s right, folks, fanservice. Watch as the camera focuses almost lovingly, and just a little creepily, on our female lead’s assets. That’s right—it’s a shower scene. An honest to goodness shower scene.

I had honestly thought the horror industry had pretty much given up on the shower scene as cheesy as far back as 1995, but here it is, alive and well and full of titties. It was a wonder they didn’t add some flashing arrows in post-production. Just for a dash of irony, this is almost exactly the time our female lead breaks down in tears, as though even SHE knows how cheesy this is.

And check out that hammer blow at fifteen minutes and seventeen seconds! Oh MAN! Is that EVER cheesy or what?? Frame advance real carefully and discover that that hammer doesn’t even make a brushing contact. In this case, the female lead beats hell out of Hedley, who’s apparently also a plumber. She makes it look like she took that hit, even almost leaping out of her chair with the percussion. He, on the other hand, can’t make a convincing hammer blow to save all our lives.

Apparently, Gardner and Cunningham have watched a lot of horror movies in their day, and can’t resist using all the standard conventions, including such hits as:

“Let’s Hide Under The Bed! He’ll NEVER Look There!”

“Stiletto Pumps—Ankle-Killer, But Stylish, Weapons!”

“The Killer Is Somehow Nigh-Invulnerable, And Takes Far More Punishment Than A Human Should!”

However, there is a surprising turn for the original as better than the last half of the film involves a thief in the killer’s midst. It’s a very inventive sequence as a guy breaks into the killer’s house and discovers what all’s going on. The thief’s son, waiting outside as the wheelman, will thus have to break in to find out what happened to his father, as well as to everyone else in the house. And there’s more than the thief, his son and the killer in there, too.

And then, Weston Blakesley tries to hit yet ANOTHER victim with a hammer.

Unconvincingly.

Could no one have spared the extra few bucks for Blakesley to take a freaking stage-combat class?

The ending is a surprisingly harrowing and thrill-packed experience as all the great conventions get built into one single forceful thrust. Plus, there’s more stage blood than you can shake a DP at, fake body parts go flying everywhere, and your class X surprise twist.

The special features include trailers for “Saw II,” “The Devil’s Rejects,” “War of the Planets,” “The Mangler Reborn,” and probably plenty of other stuff that just didn’t make it to the screener copy I got.

All in all, let’s be honest. “The Mangler Reborn” is a slasher movie. Frankly, one of the bloodiest I’ve seen in some while, especially toward the end. Yet it’s one that manages to utilize all the conventions. Whether they be ones that always worked, or ones that should have been retired long long ago, most to all of them are present. For better or for worse. What’s good about “The Mangler Reborn” is very good indeed. But what’s bad about it is all the worse.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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