Mangler Reborn (2005)
Director: Matt Cunningham
Some chubby dude (Blakesley) has created a machine out of spare parts from “The Mangler” (The laundry pressing machine from the original film). He feeds the machine human flesh as he gets possessed by its evil spirit. Where was that machine when I was dating my Ex? Three years too late man!
With the original Mangler being a big budget piece of shite and its sequel being a low budget piece of shite;
I wasn’t expecting much from this third part which I hear had an even a lower
budget than the lukewarm sequel. Having said that; when I got whiff of the
direction the writers/directors were taking with this follow up; I actually got
excited and was looking forward to chomping into the film. How did it turn out? I'm the one that got mangled! Not good!
MANGLER REBORN was the best of the Mangler films; I know it’s not saying much but hey…it was, take that and do with it what you will. The flick had a groovy initial premise that screamed MUCHO POTENTIAL; a credible/scary lead loony, potent dread filled atmosphere, a couple of swell gory bits and some decent suspense laced sequences. It also sported two major genre bullets in its clip and that was the presence of genre fav Reggie Banister (Phantasm baby!) and Scream Queen on the rise Aimee Brooks (Monster Man). Banister actually stole the show within his limited screen time and turned out to be quite likeable in the role. He should’ve been the lead! As for Brooks; well she was uneven performance wise but looking at her well rounded figure (all about that shower scene…nice!) and sweetie face for a buck and half was of course a treat for this horn dog.
So what was the severe short circuit in this piece of equipment that urinated on the positive? Well from where I was sitting; I didn’t feel I was watching a full flick. It seemed like big blocks were missing from the narrative. In the
beginning; the relationship between the Mangler machine and the lead loony should’ve been progressive to suck me into the
character and the situation. Here that link was slap-dashed my way via the opening credits hence I was tossed into the mix with
nobody and nothing to hold on to. Speaking of opening credits, don’t blink during them otherwise you’ll miss the exposition that
sets up what's to come and that ties the machine with the original Mangler
movie. And why was the machine kept away from us for the bulk of the run time?
Not seeing the "evil" lessened by investment in the already slim fast
communicated events.Worse thing is when we actually saw the damn thing, it looked great! Should’ve milked that piece of production value for all it was worth!
Then we had the characters being a pain in the pain. They frustratingly did all the wrong moves, like hiding under the bed instead of leaping out the window, letting the door shut behind you when you know it will automatically lock or taking WAYYYY too long dicking around in the house when aware that something was seriously amiss (We have the worse thieves in the world in this movie). It was
impossible to root for such dumbasses! The off-screen kills and the obvious rubber mallet (Why was it so apparent? Beats me?) took away from the experience
too as they nixed the pizzazz out of most of the murders. Lastly, I don't mind
low budget films set in one location. What I do mind is; a low budget films set
in one location that pads and stretches its middle block out in the name of making a decent
clock time (If the killer goes up those stairs one more time...), that has characters
stalling when they should be getting the hell out of there and that
results in a rushed finale.
All in all The Mangler Reborn had a great idea and talent behind the camera & in front of it.
But it really felt like they didn’t have the money to make the film they aimed to make; so they just shot half of it and stretched it out into a feature. Whether I’m on the
broken nose with that statement or not doesn’t make a difference; the film was incomplete
to me and it failed me as a whole! Mangle this!
We get some bloody bludgeoning with a mallet, some dead skin picking, a high heel shoe in one’s ear and a nail laced piece of wood in one’s back. Violent but not graphic enough with way too many off-screen “finishings”.
Aimee Brooks (Jaime) was on and off. I dug her most of the time but in places she didn’t feel hysterical enough taking into account the situation she was in. Reggie Banister was at his suave, sympathetic best here! He did so much with nothing. He made me want to have a beer with him or something. Weston Blakesley (Hadley) was creepy and imposing. Too bad that’s all he was; more time with him before the fact would’ve made the character more interesting.
T & A
Aimee Brooks (or her body double) showed the T and the A; whoever that was; she looked great and ready to eat!
Matt Cunningham and Eric Gardner showed mucho flair behind the camera as they build up tension; served up sly angles and embraced the bleakness of the tale with class. Give these guys more coin and more time; they got what it takes!
No score here really; think more a collection of chilling ambient sounds. You know what…it worked! NOTE: I don’t know if it was just my copy but mine didn’t have a “closing credit” song; one was needed.
The Mangler Reborn could’ve been the shite with its unique take on the franchise; it harsh nature, its decent actors and on the ball visuals. It's really too bad that the flick felt unfinished and compromised throughout. We don't get a real intro, are then served a redundant/inane middle section and then a half baked finale. Its hard to pan a film when you see what could’ve been but hey…gotta do it anyways and judge what’s there. Mangler Reborn came out of the trap "still born"...it needed more room, time (and coin) to breathe man! (Yes that's the peak of my cleverness!)
Director Jeff Burr (TCM 3) has a cameo as the Lawmowing Neighbor (King's Lawnmower Man hommage?)
The flick cost about $85,000 to make.
Matt Cunningham also directed Decampitated in 1998.