So I don’t really like scary movies and this is a fairly wide known fact so as I lose book report bets I expect to get these assigned to me. The Mangler is what most people would put into the campy horror bucket, I still don’t like watching these. I got scared watch Ghoulies, or Child’s Play, or Leprechaun.
The movie starts off in scenic Rikers Valley – “The Industrial Heartland of Maine” where we journey down a picturesque country road where we arrive at the Blue Ribbon Laundry Company. Inside looks like a cliché factory where dozens of young people are literally sweating in a sweat shop. This industrial laundry is built around a giant press which is the namesake of the movie, The Mangler!
Blue Ribbon Laundry is owned by Bill Gurtley, a clownish caricature of a greedy capitalist industrialist. He has a glass eye and very large metal braces covering both of his legs. We are introduced to him with a great line of wisdom – “Life’s a bitch, then you die.”. Gurtley is full of one liners, like “Hell’s Bells Adele!” and “the one thing worse than the devil within is the devil without” (I have no idea what that means either as a standalone line or in context, I’m not sure Bill knows either).
Stanner is the foreman of the plant who clearly takes pleasure in yelling out “GET BACK TO WORK” even while people are getting crushed by the Mangler or electrocuted by the possessed Ice Box. Mr. Gurtley is a pervert, he likes to be called Uncle Billy and watch young women bathe. Stanner is a serf and the workers are basically slaves.
It turns out that Uncle Billy has made a pact with a demon that has possessed the ironing machine. Its not just a pact it a blood pact with a paper contract. Not sure how the machine crafted the paper contract or whose legal services he/she/it used but there are quite a few.
The movie sets up the protagonist quickly, a hard nosed detective who lives in a sleepy town with his hippie occult fascinated brother in law. He smokes a goddamn lot and sounds like he has a mouth full of chaw all the time. He has a very weak stomach and immediately vomits the instant he sees the first victim of the Mangler. Detective Johnny is skeptical about the possibility of possession but eventually comes around when he must fight the icebox with a sledge hammer. Johnny and his sidekick begin to investigate what is happening. Oddly, a photographer keeps popping up in random places and Detective Johnny doesn’t know the word photographer so he keeps calling him “picture man” who introduces himself with a pretty good line too – “Just when you think you’ve seen it all, Life bites you in the ass!”. More about him later. Well as Johnny and side kick (I forgot his name) figure out what’s going on they realize only some strong exorcisms will defeat the demon. In the finale, they end up using “some holy water, a pinch of Eucharist, and a strong reading from Leviticus”. This ends up happening in English and Latin, with a few lords prayers thrown in and a bible and cross thrown at the machine. This seems like a really weak boss fight. These guys should have read some John Constantine comics to get some good material to really step up the authenticity of this fight scene.
So you might think the real mystery of this movie is about the demon possessing the Mangler but in actuality I found myself asking what the hell is going on with the Picture Man. This guy is super old, crazy bright blue eyes, uses an old camera that ejects a full light bulb every single shot he takes!? He never bothers to pick them up (so he’s just littering) and he seems to have an infinite supply of them in his pockets like he’s some weird creepy version of Mary Poppins. When he dies it seems that knew exactly what was going on in town and didn’t say anything. What an asshole. I think there is something weird about this character that could be the plot of Mangler 2!
This bet was lost on a simple over/under on how many tickets we would sell for a certain movie.