DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Mangler

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Elliott, Jul 29, 2004.

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  1. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    The Mangler


    [​IMG][​IMG]/[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Studio: New Line
    Year: 1995
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 106 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen (1.85:1)
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, DD 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Retail Price: $19.95





    Officer John Hunton (Ted Levine) is called to the Blue Ribbon laundry factory after an elderly woman accidentally fell into the press and was killed. When Hunton arrives on the scene he’s in shock at the amount of blood on the floor but he falls sick after seeing what the machine did to this woman’s body. In the following days Hunton checks back with some safety officials trying to find out why the safety switch didn’t go off but the safety control comes back as working so it’s a mystery why this accident happened.

    However, soon more accidents start happening and the factories elderly owner (Robert England) seems to be keeping his mouth shut on a few things. Confused and not knowing what to do next, Hunton starts talking to his brother in law who studies occult activities and he seems to believe that this machine, known as a Manger, is alive and wanting the blood of virgin women. As more and more accidents start happening Hunton realizes that they are dealing with something alive and that the secret is with the machine’s owner.

    Tobe Hooper is probably the most criticized horror director of the past thirty years. Outside his debut film, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre he really hasn’t delivered anything worthwhile and The Mangler might very well be his worst film and that’s saying a lot considering some of the films he’s made. The film is based on a short story by Stephen King, which could have led to an interesting film but Hooper doesn’t know how to tell a story and that really hurts things especially a film running nearly two hours, which is about one hour too long.

    Suspension of disbelief is the most important aspect when it comes to being a horror fan but if Hooper thinks we can hold that for two hours about a possessed laundry machine then he’s got another thing coming. While watching this film I couldn’t help but wonder what Hooper was thinking. The actual mystery to the laundry machine is so incredibly boring and silly that the viewer could care less how everything turns out and could care less if the machine likes virgins or not. In fact, things probably would have been better had it liked pizza that way the machine could have ordered pizza and attacked the deliver boys.

    The direction is all over the map because it’s never quite clear what Hooper is trying to do with the film. The running time keeps it from being a clever slasher film and the low body count doesn’t help matters either. Even the death scenes, which you’d expect to be over the top, are all rather bland and it takes way too long between each of them. Just when you thought thinks couldn’t get any worse we get one of the dumbest and lamest endings in horror film history. The laundry machine grows CGI legs and arms and goes on the attack while our heroes try to perform an exorcism on it.

    There are a few saving graces in the film however and one is the opening sequence, which Hooper directs very well. Hooper does a wonderful job building up the suspense of the first attack because it’s not too pleasant to see someone smashed and crewed to death by a press. The way Hooper builds this up makes one think he has returned to form but then again it all falls apart when he tries to tell the actual story. The art direction is another very big plus as is the rather awkward performance by Ted Levine from The Silence of the Lambs. I’ve always enjoyed him as a character actor and he makes the film a lot more interesting to watch, although I’m still not sure what’s up with his accent, which is constantly changing throughout the film. Horror legend Robert England is also on hand playing a crippled, old man but he’s quite awful. Certain people like Vincent Price can go over the top and still be watchable but when England goes over the top the effects are quite horrid.

    The Mangler was meant to be Tobe Hooper’s return to form but outside that opening scene he has delivered a very bad film that doesn’t have anything going for it. Perhaps if Hooper had cut the film down to eighty-minutes then something could have happened a bit better. Watching people being chewed by a press could have been interesting but we got a stupid detective story that added nothing and leaves us with a very bad horror film that should have never been made. I keep hoping Hooper will make a comeback but it hasn’t happened yet in the nine years since this was released. Somehow, this film got a direct-to-video sequel in 2001


    VIDEO---The movie is shown widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 TVs. Even when this was first released to video the picture quality was a blurry mess that made for one incredibly ugly picture. The grain was also so thick that it was sometimes hard to see what was going on but New Line once again delivers a breathtaking transfer, which ranks among the best I’ve seen from them. You’ve really got to admire a studio that puts so much effort into a film like this. I don’t care if you’ve seen this film twenty times before, seeing this DVD will make you think this was your first viewing. For starters, all the dirt has thankfully been removed leaving us with a remarkably clean image that is so crystal sharp you’ll think this film was just recently made. The black levels are deep and very solid, which comes in handy at showing off the various sets including the laundry room. The director also uses a light blue lighting effect throughout the movie and this here comes off very well unlike previous VHS releases. For once you can actually see that these lighting effects were used for a purpose and the greenish tints also come off looking sharp. Flesh tones are very accurate throughout and are so vividly clear that you can actually see how bad the old man makeup on England looks. Another problem with previous releases were the gore shots, which were extremely too dark to the point where the blood looked like chocolate syrup but that too has been corrected here. The blood is as red and detailed as you can possibly imagine. This is a remarkable transfer all around and it’s rather shocking to see the film look this good.

    AUDIO---Along with the typical 2.0 Surround track we get a new Dolby Digital 5.1 track as well as a DTS 5.1 track. I compared both the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks in various scenes and while there isn’t a major difference those with DTS ability will want to opt for that track, although as I’ve said before, the difference isn’t big enough for you to upgrade to DTS just for this disc. The biggest difference between the two tracks comes from small sound effects like steam coming from the machine. In the DTS track there’s a lot more range and a needle drop clarity. Other sound effects like the gunshots, blood dripping and the spirits being released from the machine have a better sound on the DTS track. Both the DTS and DD sound remarkably well with the Surrounds perfectly used for all the chomping and grinding that goes on with the machine. Dialogue is clear throughout except in the opening scene where the Surround action is so loud that it’s rather hard to make out the dialogue being said. This only effects the opening segment and after that all is better.

    EXTRAS---You get the film’s theatrical trailer as well as trailers for The Hidden and Critters. Also included is a six-minute featurette that comes scenes from the R-rated version to the unrated cut. There are three scenes that were cut due to the MPAA but there’s only about thirty seconds of cuts so it isn’t too noticeable. The two versions are shown on top of one another with the theatrical cut on top while the uncut clips on the bottom. Whenever an “uncut” scene appears the theatrical cut blacks out and we can clearly see what was cut and the mere seconds missing.

    OVERALL---This was meant to put director Tobe Hooper back on the map but that didn’t happen and after seeing the movie you can clearly see why. As bad as the film is New Line has delivered a remarkable video transfer that ranks among the best I’ve ever seen. Seeing how this film looked previously compared to this was quite an eye opener so fans will certainly have something to look forward to. The alternate scenes section was nice, if very short considering the minor edits and I’m curious why New Line didn’t release this uncut since it was issued that way on VHS.


    Release Date: August 17, 2004
     
  2. EricSchulz

    EricSchulz Producer

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    I agree with this being a truly awful film...even the improved PQ won't be enough to warrant a second viewing of this garbage.
     
  3. Justin_S

    Justin_S Producer

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    I love this film. I think its very fun, and has a great deal of charm to it. I also like pretty much all of the actors, and the score and settings are wonderful and fitting as well. Its no TCM or The Funhouse, but its a damn fun film all the same if you ask me.

    Now, color me very pissed off that the uncut scenes are only included as extras. That's absolute bullshit. I've only ever viewed this film uncut on my unrated VHS, and New Line pulling this kind of nonsense is plain ridiculous, and doesn't really make sense. I may not buy this now, and I was really looking forward to picking it up. [​IMG]
     
  4. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

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    This is very unusual for New Line. Why are they pulling a Paramount on this one? I've really love to hear an explanation.
     
  5. Michael Elliott

    Michael Elliott Lead Actor

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    I know no one wants to hear this but the "uncut" version is only eight seconds longer. If the three scenes in the featurette is the only difference then I timed them right at eight seconds but the cuts are pretty clear to the point where people will notice them (if they've seen the uncut version).

    THE GUYVER 1 and 2 are both being released the same day as director cuts so I'm not sure of the reasoning behind THE MANGLER.
     

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