A lot of people have heard of Death Bed: The Bed that Eats, but did you know that, in the 1990s, a Stephen King short story gave rise to another unintimidating antagonist? Enter the Mangler – a giant, demon-possessed laundry press with a taste for human blood.
All it can do is sit and wait for a victim to put a hand too close to the press. But, on the rare occasion that The Mangler does catch a victim, they wind up looking like this when they come out:
As scary as being folded is, a premise as absurd as this could not go undocumented or unanalyzed.
- The Mangler. Opulent plutocrats in a small town in Maine summon a demon to possess a laundry press. The demon wakes up after a couple of inept moving men drop a refrigerator on the laundry press, giving the laundry press a thirst for blood.
- The Mangler 2. A bitter, computer-savvy, super-wealthy goth girl decides to get back at her prep school by downloading a computer virus into its cutting edge security system. The security system proceeds to murder all of the school’s porn-and-drug-addicted staff in an underwhelming series of off-screen murders.
- The Mangler Reborn. A guy buys the original machine from The Mangler and spends 80 minutes hitting people on the head with a rubber mallet and feeding them through the machine.
What I Learned:
1. No matter how insane they sound, liberals are always right.
The first Mangler film features a character named Mark. Mark’s defining characteristics are having graduated from UC Berkeley, having a mystical druid cove in his backyard, and having a comprehensive understanding of the occult – a liberal if ever there were one.
When the hard-nosed detective, John, mentions that a SINGLE PERSON had mysteriously been chewed up by a laundry press, Mark immediately suggests that the press might be possessed by a demon. Like any rational human being, John responds with skepticism and derides Mark’s crazy, Berkley-liberal ideas.
Then – and this is a real thing that happens in the film – John inadvertently exercises a demon from a refrigerator with a sledge hammer, and the ensuing light show convinces him that Mark is correct.
American liberalism: 1
2. Laundry Presses are better at Murder when they can walk around.
You don’t see a lot of people die in these films:
If you look at the original Mangler, the machine’s ability to kill is pretty limited. The only reason that it has any kills before the last 20 minutes of the film is because a plutocrat forces his cleaning staff to keep working in spite of the fact that one of their coworkers was folded into a pile of mush.
The Mangler scores most of its kills in the last 20 minutes of the film, when the Mangler grows a pair of legs. Up until then, the film is just a lot of hand wringing and intrigue.
Subsequent films give the Mangler additional powers to allow it to kill more efficiently; in The Mangler 2, the Mangler is a computer virus that can kill anywhere at any time, and in The Mangler Reborn the Mangler possesses a repairman who can chase people down.
In terms of raw murder output, if you compare the Mangler franchise to the other franchises that I’ve gathered these data for, The Mangler scores pretty poorly:
A Turkey and a guy with a dick full of ants kill more people per minute of film than any of the Manglers. It performs comparably to Lubdan, the Leprechaun, but, because the Mangler is a machine, it lacks all of the charm and charisma that Warwick Davis brought to that role.
If you can’t kill a bunch of people, and you can’t be charming, you have failed as a homicidal monster.
3. Sometimes, writers can’t come up with good character names.
In The Mangler, a mysterious old journalist follows the gruff detective around and photographs all of the crime scenes. His name? J.J.J. Pictureman.
4. The quality and popularity of a film are bad predictors as to whether or not people will make sequels.
Look at this shit:
The original Mangler film isn’t particularly well known; it only has about 6300 raters on IMDB. By comparison, the first Leprechaun film has about 10,500 more raters, and the original Friday the 13th has 12.5 times more raters on IMDB. 6300 is pretty shoddy for the first step in a franchise.
In spite of this, the Mangler spawned two sequels with only a fraction of the popularity of the original film in the series.
Why would anyone do that?
5. The Mangler 2 is brilliantly awful.
I’m not sure I Can do adequate justice in describing what a spectacular train wreck that is The Mangler 2, but my integrity as a data analyst insists that I try.
The Mangler 2 starts with a mysterious ninja doing flips around a corporate facility. After triggering an alarm and being apprehended, we discover that the ninja is the teenage goth daughter of the facility’s CEO. Evidencing his shitty parenting skills, his punishment is to ground his ninja daughter at her prep school with a security card that grants her access to literally any room in the school. Speaking of which, did I mention he works in security, and that he helped install the new security system at the prep school? This is a maybe semi-important detail.
After the title screen, the movie introduces a bunch of sexy, teenage coffin fodder, and the headmaster accuses Ninja Goth and her friends – Stoner Guy, Stoner Girl, Sentimental Hunky Jock, and a character whose depth is literally summed up by the movie as “black guy” (I shit you not) – of changing the school website. Their punishment is to stay back at the school while everyone else goes on the senior trip. Basically, it was a plot device because they didn’t have the budget to murder an entire class of sexy high schoolers – they could only afford to kill 4 and a couple of staff members.
Furious at missing out on her dream of seeing Sea World or the town zoo or whatever, Ninja Goth uploads a computer virus named The Mangler 2.0 to the security system, at which point computer system starts to murder everyone in the school while making dated pop culture references.
This upload scene is my favorite part of the movie, because we see the first interaction between Ninja Goth and her love interest, Sentimental Hunky Jock. And, true to the complete ineptitude with which this film was written, instead of talking about wanting to bone, or whatever real sexy teens were talking about in 2001, Ninja Goth blathers on about mandlebrots and fractals and how infatuated she is with chaos.
At this point, the malicious computer virus starts to kill the remaining staff at the school, all of whom, for some reason, have crippling addictions. A paraplegic history teacher gets 2 scenes – one where he’s jerking it to internet porn, and another where he rolls around the school with a porn mag hidden on his lap. Then the Mangler shoves him down a flight of stairs. The hot, scantily clad English teacher gets pulled through a laundry press after getting hammered on booze. The virus locks a joyless, chain-smoking, misogynistic French chef in an industrial freezer.
Meanwhile, the sexy teens are busy fucking around and smoking weed. Then they start walking around for some reason – maybe Ninja Goth felt bad and wanted to try to get the virus out of the computer – some really shallow plot driver or something.
Instead of helping, Stoner Guy and Stoner Girl get the munchies and head to the kitchen, where they rescue a French chef from the industrial freezer. And thank God for this, because that French chef is the best fucking character in the film. He walks out of the freezer with icicles hanging off of his nose, and immediately says, “I’VE BEEN WITH BITCHES COLDER THAN THAT.”
The other 3 characters – Goth Girl, Dumb Jock, and the black guy – try to break into the headmasters office to accomplish that thing I can’t remember, and the Mangler literally says “Hey <BLACK GUY>, sometimes, the black guy doesn’t always die first!” And then, to prove his point, the computer virus melts Black Guy with scalding water from the sprinklers.
But hey, at least he didn’t die first! The school janitor received that honor when he was stabbed off-screen by a bundle of wires holding a pair of garden sheers. I’m inspired by The Mangler 2’s progressive approach to race.
Anyhow, the group reunites and runs around for a while. They encounter the school’s headmaster, who is an abusive asshole who maybe at some point abused Stoner Girl. They have a short confrontation, the teens and French Chef knock him unconscious, and we get a short cut of the headmaster being dragged away by wires.
Then everyone starts dying – Stoner Guy gets crushed behind some automated seats despite everyone in the film telling him not to walk behind them. Stoner girl gets hung from some wires off screen. Hunk, Goth Ninja, and French Chef almost make it out – but then Hunk decides to jump up and down on a downed electric fence despite the fact that his school is being haunted by a malicious, omniscient computer virus.
And, spoilers – The Mangler 2.0 fucks that nerd up.
So Ninja Goth decides to go back in and kill the computer virus, who has assimilated the headmaster of the school. When she makes that choice, French Chef looks her in the eye from across the downed electric fence and says – “Hey, take this” and throws her a fucking knife to fight a security system.
Think about that.
Then, there’s a short cut to the room where the security server is set up, and Ninja Goth finds the old headmaster wired up to the system.
Speaking through the headmaster, the Mangler reveals that he wants to fuck Ninja Goth. The virus tries to get her hot and bothered by quoting Spice Girl lyrics at her – and, thank God, she stabs him with the knife, stuffs a cd with some kind of fractal code on it into the main computer terminal, and the virus shits its pants and dies, because apparently mandlebrots and fractals are too much for one of the most advanced computer viruses in the world to handle.
Then there are some closure shots with Ninja Goth smiling, probably because all of her idiot friends are dead, and the move ends. They play some Korn or Disturbed or some other really bad early 2000s shit over the credits.
6/5 stars. If this film were a person I would fuck it every day.