The Mangler (1995)

The Mangler

Directed by Tobe Hooper [Other horror films: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Eaten Alive (1976), The Dark (1979), Salem’s Lot (1979), The Funhouse (1981), Poltergeist (1982), Lifeforce (1985), Invaders from Mars (1986), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986), Spontaneous Combustion (1990), I’m Dangerous Tonight (1990), Night Terrors (1993), Body Bags (1993, segment ‘Eye’), The Apartment Complex (1999), Crocodile (2000), Shadow Realm (2002), Toolbox Murders (2004), Mortuary (2005), Djinn (2013)]

This is a poor movie, and the fact it runs for an hour and 45 minutes does little to help it out.

Based on a short story by Stephen King that’s no longer than ten pages, The Mangler brings to us the story of an evil laundry folding machine. If the movie took itself a bit less seriously, it may have turned out okay too. But no. Director Tobe Hooper kept this movie serious, and while goofy acting by Robert Englund may make one question that conclusion, throughout the film, little humor is present.

The main characters are fine enough, but not overly enthralling. And some of the gore is good also, which is only a plus. But things don’t work together – the plot twist at the end seemed to be thrown in there, and just doesn’t strike me as overly realistic. The movie’s quite simply not good, and while I’ve not seen it in years before this rewatch, I recall not caring for it much then either. For good reason.

5/10

In a Dark Place (2006)

Directed by Donato Rotunno [Other horror films: N/A]

This would be the third time I’ve seen this film, and I have the same lukewarm reaction I did the first few times. In a Dark Place, another rendition of The Turn of the Screw (the most famous being 1961’s The Innocents) is not really a bad film. But it fails to really go above and beyond what it could have been.

The ambiguity (is it a ghost movie? are the children possessed? is our main character just losing it?) inherent in the original story certainly remains in this rendition, to the annoyance of some viewers. By the end, nothing is necessarily for certain, though I personally feel clues do lead to one central conclusion.

The acting here isn’t overly stellar, and the lesbian subplot just seems a tad odd, but I appreciate them wanting to add a little something to the story. In some ways, this feels like a slow-burner, though whether it pays off at the end is up for each viewer to decide. I’m not a giant fan of the ending, but then again, I wouldn’t have expected much else. In a Dark Place isn’t a bad movie. It’s just not that memorable.

6.5/10

Hellraiser (1987)

Hellraiser

Directed by Clive Barker [Other horror films: Nightbreed (1990), Lord of Illusions (1995), Clive Barker’s Salomé & The Forbidden (1998)]

This is a good film, and it’s still a good film upon seeing it again, but some parts just rub me the wrong way, one of them being Kirsty’s first on-screen appearance. She seems agitated, and is acting, in my opinion, oddly, yet no reason for this is given (unless it’s just the stress of moving to London, which is possible). That’s another issue I had, though – while this movie is supposed to take place in London, most of the characters seem to have American accents. I realize that this was a decision by someone who believed that it’d help with American viewership, but still, it sort of took me out of the immersive experience I’d have preferred.

Lastly, the homeless man/demon is following Kirsty before there’s any real reason for him to do so. Again, never expanded on. Still, the movie is solid. Cenobites are fantastic, Kirsty is a decent (and easy on the eyes) character, and Frank/Julie are quite the threatening pair. And of course the special effects are extremely solid for the most part. Overall, it’s a good film with a flaw or two. Certainly worth the watch if you’ve not seen it before. Great 80’s horror.

8/10

Chucky (@ChuckyFE) and I covered this film in a ten-minute conversation on Fight Evil’s fifth podcast. Listen below if interested.