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The Mangler

Original 1995 theatrical poster
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Produced by Anant Singh
Written by Stephen King
Tobe Hooper
Stephen Brooks
Starring Robert Englund
Ted Levine
Music by Barrington Pheloung
Cinematography Amnon Salomon
Editing by David Heitner
Release date(s) 1995 (USA)
Running time 106 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Mangler is a 1995 American and Australian horror film directed by Tobe Hooper, based upon the Stephen King short story of the same name which appeared in his inaugural short story collection, Night Shift (1978).


The Mangler is the name for an old machine, Hadley-Watson brand, that steams and folds sheets within Gartley's Blue Ribbon Laundry service, owned by Bill Gartley (Robert Englund). The trouble starts when one of the girls, Sherry (Gartley's niece), cuts herself on a lever connected to the machine and splashes blood on the Mangler's tread, while also trying to avoid being crushed by an old ice box some movers are carrying past clumsily. Some strange sparks and light streams occur when both the blood and the ice box comes into close contact with the Mangler, causing a strange electrical outburst. Later that day an elderly worker, Adelle Frawley, is struggling to open a bottle of antacids and spills them on the moving tread of the Mangler when startled by the foreman, George Stanner (Demetre Phillips). When she attempts to collect them, the safety shield inexplicably lifts up and traps her hand inside, subsequently mangling it, and then her entire body is pulled into the machine.

The accident is passed into the hands of Officer John Hunton (Ted Levine), who investigates the incident and the ones that soon follow, with the help of his brother-in-law, Mark (Daniel Matmor). Originally believing it to be an electrical malfunction, evidence to the contrary has Hunton confused as to the real causes of the deaths. As the plot progresses, Mark tries to convince Hunton that the machine may be possessed and the only way to stop the catastrophes is to exorcise the machine to dispel whatever demon is inhabiting it. Hunton disbelieves at first until he comes into contact with the ice box that may have started it all and starts pounding on it, but not after they find a dove inside. After numerous hits to the ice box with a large mallet, Hunton takes off a top piece and suddenly there is steam, bright lights, electric sparks and streams coming from the ice box. This is when Hunton believes Mark that something other-wordly is involved, and more so when the machine tries to attack him.

There also appears to be more to Bill Gastley than we initially thought, especially where his niece is concerned. Later in the movie Hunton is given a scrapbook filled with newspaper clippings that address the death of Bill Gartley's daughter to the Mangler at 16, as well as countless other 16-year-old girls; daughters of rich people, "old money", furthering Mark's proof that virgin blood satiates the demon-machine.

Finally, the two men set off for the laundry with a bible and holy water to get rid of the demon before it strikes again; Gartley's niece, Sherry, is next in line to be sacrificed. With the help of an employee named Lin Sue, Gartley overpowers Sherry and sedates her, preparing her for sacrifice. Hunton and Mark show up just in time to save her and there is a fight between Hunton and Gartley as well as between Sherry and Lin sue before the latter girl is sucked into the Mangler and killed, further fueling the machine's bloodlust. As Gartley mourns the passing of the girl, Hunton punches him into the machine. With his legs crushed and bent to his torso, Gartley utters a curse before dying. Mark recites a prayer and Hunton administers the holy water as directed, but all they get in return is mechanical groans, sparks, and bursts of steam. After a duel-incantation, the machine gives one last groan and shuts down.

As the three sigh with relief, Hunton takes some antacids, and admits to Mark that they belonged to Frawley, and Mark just realized the machine took antacids which meant the demon was still alive, as the machine bursts to life and appears to have a mind of its own, shedding off pieces of metal and rising up like a live beast. The three run through the warehouse blindly as they are chased by the Mangler. Mark is frightened beyond reason and as he tries to find a passage to read to protect them from the demon, a mechanical hand-like protrusion of the machine sweeps Mark to his feet then proceeds to literally rip him in half. John and Sherry descend a flight of stairs until Sherry tries to run towards it to end it all. John pulls her away from the machine and they fall through a large sewer hole into the water below, the machine struggling to get to them. All of a sudden we see something fall from the machine and into the water, a mechanical wail ensues and the machine draw back and it becomes still.

John receives a letter from the mortician about people with missing fingers. But the doctor at the hospital was missing a finger and when Sherry inherits the Blue Ribbon Laundry company she is missing one as well.

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