At the Blue Riband laundry, a medieval, animalistic mechanical clothes iron takes centre stage. When an accident occurs, and blood gets into the workings the machine comes to life revealing a macabre history involving the whole community.
Currently, there are around 24 Stephen King novels, novellas and short stories being adapted for film and television. Which probably tells you more about the prolificacy of the author than it does about the quality. Because for every Shawshank Redemption there is The Dark Tower. And for every Carrie, there is The Mangler.
While this is very much a Stephen King story – a small town in Maine has a collective secret involving sacrifice, demons and virgin’s blood – the sparsity of original text meant director Tobe Hooper and his writing partners had to get creative. And what they created doesn’t really work. A minor character in the short story, in Robert Englund’s hands, laundry owner Bill Gartley has grown into a menacing pantomime villain delivering cringe-worthy dialogue and perving uncomfortably over his young female protégé. Although at least Englund appears to be having fun.
No, with every hazy shot full of fake smoke and dim lighting, presumably to replace the missing atmosphere, and containing several scenes awkward by today’s standards, The Mangler is largely a dull, soulless and dated viewing experience.
The included extras, however, do offer some interest as an in-depth interview with Englund and some behind-the-scenes footage of Hooper at work provide an insight into the process.
And the final ten minutes must be seen to be truly believed, as misguided ambition meets technological failings in a hopeless attempt to replicate the source material. Worth watching The Mangler for this alone? Debatable, but at least you’ll have something to remember if you make it this far.
The Mangler is out now on Blu-ray.