The Mangler (film)

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The Mangler
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Produced by Anant Singh
Screenplay by Tobe Hooper
Stephen Brooks
Peter Welbeck
Based on The Mangler by Stephen King
Music by Barrington Pheloung
Cinematography Amnon Salomon
Edited by David Heitner
Allied Film Production
Distant Horizons
Filmex Pty. Ltd.
New Line Cinema
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • 3 March 1995 (1995-03-03)[1]
Running time
106 minutes
Country United States
South Africa
Language English
Box office $1.7 million (domestic)[2]

The Mangler is a 1995 horror film, directed by Tobe Hooper and co-written by him and Harry Alan Towers (under the pseudonym of Peter Welbeck). It is based upon the Stephen King short story of the same name which appeared in his inaugural short story collection, Night Shift. It stars Robert Englund and Ted Levine. It also spawned two sequels The Mangler 2 and The Mangler Reborn.


The Mangler, in Gartley's Blue Ribbon Laundry service, is a laundry press owned by Bill Gartley (Englund). The trouble starts when Gartley's niece, Sherry, cuts herself on a lever connected to the machine and splashes blood on the Mangler's tread while trying to avoid being crushed by an old ice box some movers are clumsily carrying past. Sparks and light streams occur when both the blood and the ice box come into close contact with the Mangler. Later, an elderly worker, struggling to open a bottle of antacids, spills them on the moving tread of the Mangler. When she attempts to collect them, the safety shield inexplicably lifts up and traps her hand inside, followed by her entire body getting pulled into the machine.

Police officer John Hunton (Levine), with the help of his brother-in-law Mark (Daniel Matmor), investigates the incident and the ones that soon follow. As the plot progresses, Mark tries to convince Hunton that the machine may be possessed, and the only way to stop the deaths is to exorcise the machine to dispel whatever demon is inhabiting it.

With the help of Sherry, the two men attempt to exorcise the demon before it strikes again by reciting a prayer and administering holy water. The machine gives one last groan and shuts down. As the three sigh with relief, Hunton takes some antacids, admitting to Mark that they belonged to Frawley. Mark suddenly realizes that the key ingredient in the antacids is deadly nightshade, also called "the Hand of Glory" as outlined in his occult book. Since the machine was accidentally fed the same antacids, Mark realizes that not only was the exorcism rendered useless, as the demon is still alive, it is now stronger than ever. The machine bursts to life and now appears to have a mind of its own, shedding off pieces of metal and rising up in the manner of a wild beast. The three run through the warehouse as they are chased by the now-mobile Mangler.

The Mangler kills Mark while John and Sherry descend a flight of stairs. In their hurry to escape, they fall through a large manhole into the sewer below, the machine struggling to get to them. Suddenly, something falls from the machine into the water, and a mechanical wail ensues. The machine draws back and becomes still, and John and Sherry escape.

Time passes and John goes to check up on Sherry. However, to John's great dismay, he discovers that Sherry has become the new tyrannical owner of the laundry business, going so far as to have the possessed machine rebuilt, resuming its duties.


  • Robert Englund as William 'Bill' Gartley
  • Daniel Matmor as Mark Jackson
  • Ted Levine as Officer John Hunton
  • Vanessa Pike as Sherry Ouelette
  • Jeremy Crutchley as JJJ Pictureman / Mortician
  • Lisa Morris as Lin Sue
  • Demetre Phillips as George Stanner


The Mangler was released in the US on 3 March 1995.[1] New Line Home Entertainment released it on DVD on 17 August 2004.[3]

In its first week, it underperformed and took in $1.1M on 800 screens at the US box office.[4] It also failed in the European box office.[5]


The Mangler received a negative critical reception. On film review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 20% approval rating based on ten reviews.[6] Richard Harrington of The Washington Post wrote, "The Mangler is ludicrous from start to finish: its plot lines dangle, its effects fail to dazzle and the acting and directing are uniformly bad. [...] even the least demanding of genre fans will be hard-pressed to tremble in its presence".[7] Marc Savlov of The Austin Chronicle wrote, "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."[8] Godfrey Cheshire of Variety called its villain a "silly contrivance" and described the acting and story as lackluster.[9] Stephen Holden of The New York Times called it "a potpourri of supernatural cliches and warmed-over Stephen King notions about corruption randomly stuck together with fill-in-the-blanks dialogue."[10] David Kronke of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Consider, for a second, what you might honestly expect from a movie called The Mangler. Well, it doesn't even aim that high."[11] Steven Rea of The Philadelphia Inquirer called it a "plodding and virtually plotless" film that should have been played for laughs.[12] Stephen Hunter of The Baltimore Sun stated the film recycles common Stephen King themes, but the film's novelty makes it enjoyable for horror fans.[13]

The Mangler fared somewhat better with modern critics. Bloody Disgusting rated it 3/5 stars and wrote that the film "is not good by any objective standards, but it’s a fun little gory time-killer with a possessed refrigerator and an evil laundry press. That can’t be all bad."[14] Jon Condit of Dread Central rated it 3.5/5 stars and wrote, "The Mangler is a true test for the guilty pleasure connoisseur. Bad in every respect, there are definitely worse ways to blow two hours of your time (this film's sequel comes to mind); it's just a shame Hooper was implicated in it."[15] Mike Long of DVD Talk rated it 0.5/5 stars and wrote, "There have been many bad, throw-away projects based on material from Stephen King, but The Mangler has to be one of the worst. The movie's laughable premise is only brought down by the inept filmmaking on display here."[16] David Johnson of DVD Verdict wrote that the film "features a lot of gore, a solid, creepy atmosphere, some wonky special effects, all set against a really dumb premise."[17]

See also[edit]

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats, another horror movie with an inanimate antagonist


  1. ^ a b "Exhibs Forecast Bleak Outlook For 1st-qtr. Pix". Variety. 1 January 1995. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Mangler". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Mangler Comes To DVD On August 17". IGN. 17 May 2004. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Full 'House' 'Bunch' Slips 'Just' OK". Variety. 12 March 1995. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  5. ^ Groves, Dan (26 June 1995). "'Bat' wings clipped at Japan B.O.". Variety. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  6. ^ "The Mangler (1995)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 20, 2014. 
  7. ^ Harrington, Richard (6 March 1995). "'The Mangler' (R)". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 July 2012. 
  8. ^ Savlov, Marc (10 March 1995). "The Mangler". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  9. ^ Cheshire, Godfrey (5 March 1995). "Review: 'The Mangler'". Variety. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Holden, Stephen (4 March 1995). "FILM REVIEW; Dirty Work at the Blue Ribbon Laundry". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Konke, David (6 March 1995). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Mangler' a Tale of a Hungry Machine". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  12. ^ Rea, Steven (6 March 1995). "Employees Are Pressed Out Of Service". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  13. ^ Hunter, Stephen (7 March 1995). "Only horror fans are likely to be impressed with 'The Mangler'". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "The Mangler". Bloody Disgusting. 22 October 2004. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  15. ^ Condit, Jon (29 August 2004). "Mangler, The (DVD)". Dread Central. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Long, Mike (9 August 2004). "The Mangler". DVD Talk. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  17. ^ Johnson, David (24 August 2004). "The Mangler". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 

External links[edit]