Bill Gartley, the owner of a Maine laundry, ensures the prosperity of the town by making regular sacrifices to a demon-possessed mangler, but a local cop gets suspicious.
It used to be said everything Stephen King ever put down on paper would wind up turned into a schlock movie or TV miniseries, including his laundry list. Adapted from an early short story King wrote after working (unhappily) in a laundry, The Mangler offers one of the dumbest premises ever spun into a serious horror movie. The big rolling, pressing and starching demon comes a long way after the possessed car of Christine or even the murderous trucks of Maximum Overdrive in the King machine-monster stakes; it’s almost impressive when it just its there evilly, clawing unwary souls into its clanking works to be messily mangled, but becomes ridiculous in the finale, when it gets loose from its moorings and stalks around an industrial hellhole, persecuting toupee-sporting cop Levine and his hippie exorcist sidekick.
Englund, as a crippled patriarch pithily described as 'a miserable piece of dogfuck', delivers one of his make-up-encrusted hambone ranting villain performances, and gets folded up like a sheet for his big death scene.
Despite much repetitive gore (how many ways are there to show someone being caught in a mangle?) and grimily nasty art direction, this is too dreary to be a hoot, despite many clunker lines ('there's no such thing as external truth in theoretical parapsychology'). Yet another nail in the coffin of Tobe Hooper's once-promising career, it still managed to spin off sequels: the unrelated The Mangler 2: Graduation Day, which has Lance Henriksen attacked by a computer virus which turns him into a possessed cyborg, and the back-to-basics The Mangler Reborn, in which the original laundry machine is needlessly restored.
Lame and clunky in many places which doesn't manage to save this bizarre premise from dull absurdity.