Sunday, August 29, 2010

An Acute Case of Sequelitis: THE MANGLER REBORN (2005)

Some jackass talking THE MANGLER on this very blog a few weeks ago:

Two direct-to-video sequels hit a few years later with THE MANGLER 2, where the title refers to a computer virus (wah?), and THE MANGLER REBORN, where a guy buys the remains of the machine from this film. Hey, that sounds kind of interesting. I’ll have to check that out.

Same jackass now:

Fuck me!

Of course, if it didn’t come through in my amazing writing, I was being facetious about the THE MANGLER REBORN sounding interesting. But this Video Junkie disease I have is strong and the next thing you know, I am clicking the “add” button on Netflix and the third entry in the MANGLER saga is at my door like some unwanted missionary. They come in, make themselves at home and then proceed to feed me the biggest pile of unbelievable crap for 80 minutes.

Since the events of the first film, the monstrous laundry press has been disassembled and auctioned off. Our lucky winner was Hadley (Weston Blakesley, a dead ringer for Paul Bartel), a handyman who irritated his wife by spending their savings on this “antique.” He rebuilds it in a room of their house (yes, the huge machine now fits into an 8x8 room) and – before you can say, “Feed me Seymour!” – he is feeding it human victims. One such victim is Jamie (Aimee Brooks), who is apparently having the worst day of her life as she was just fired, dumped and thumped on the head with a rubber mallet. To complicate matters, a father-and-son heist unit (Reggie Bannister and Scott Speiser, respectively) have staked out the house. Before you can say SAW (2004), everyone is trapped in this reinforced house with our killer and his infernal machine.

Before I begin my cynical dissection, I’ll give directors Matthew Cunningham and Erik Gardner (yes, it took two guys to make this turd) credit for trying to establish some ties between their film and the original. They could have gone the easier “Weinstein” route and just thrown whatever together and slapped the name on it faster than Clive Barker cashes royalty checks. Soak it up boys, because that is all you will get from me.

Now, I’m not as dumb as I look (trust me on this one). I don’t go into something like THE MANGLER REBORN and expect great things. But I do at least demand competent things (fussy, I know) and the two dudes who made this can’t even deliver capable filmmaking. Let me give you a couple of examples. Example #1: in the pre-title sequence, Hadley’s wife walks into his new mangler room and is killed for her busybody ways. When he kills her, the door she came in is clearly open in the back. So what happens next? This dynamic directing duo cut to a shot of the camera pulling away from THE CLOSED DOOR! Even worse, this is a recycled shot from earlier in the film’s first four minutes. Chilling…cue the SEVEN rip off credits. Example #2: my God, this one is classic. So the filmmakers decide to overlay their credits on some newspaper stories telling of the machine’s violent history. Yay, continuity! I can respect that. Until you see that they merely printed out the newspaper banner headlines on WHITE paper and GLUED them onto old YELLOW newspapers so it doesn’t even match! You’ve got to be kidding me!?! Don't believe me? Well, check this beauty out:

How insulting! You couldn’t be bothered to run that through the Xerox machine one time to make it look like a whole, real newspaper? It is as if they just didn’t give a damn. Example #3: the introduction of our thief characters. Our bungling burglar team is sitting in a black car in the very white suburbs. Following some Tarantino-lite banter (when will this trend end?), it is revealed our intrepid duo is sitting 15 freakin' feet from the house they plan to rob. Even worse, Bannister then changes into his faux UPS get up right there…in broad daylight! A blind neighborhood watch member could see these guys as they stand out worse than Anna Nicole Smith at a Mensa gathering. You two bonehead directors couldn’t find the time to shoot this in a separate location and then have them say, “Let’s go to work” and drive there or something?

No doubt if the filmmakers got a chance to defend themselves they would say they did the best they could with their (reportedly) $200,000 budget. Hell that is what the reviews from buddy-buddy horror news sites defend this shoddy film with as they call it “the best of THE MANGLER series.” Jesus, are you kidding me? To quote the inimitable Reggie Bannister from this flick, “You better wipe your mouth before you talk any more shit to me.” Look, Tobe Hooper’s flick is no masterpiece. It isn’t even good. But to say this shot-on-video hacksterpiece is somehow better than a film that actually features solid production design, good cinematography and decent gore is mindboggling. These filmmakers' definition of horror is squirting actors in the face with blood over and over and over. This one just reeks of what is so wrong with the genre. As horror fans we have to remember that guys like Wes Craven, Sam Raimi, and Peter Jackson (god rest their souls) did a helluva lot more with a helluva lot less. Of course, those guys had the extra component called talent. THE MANGLER REBORN is so bottom of the barrel that I’m seriously considering renting the in-name-only sequel THE MANGLER 2 just to get the bad taste out of my mouth. Yes, I'm being facetious. *Netflix* "Ding dong!" goes the doorbell.

Moments of Clarity:

1 Reactions:

  1. I found it more tolerable than The Mangler 2, if only because it was less inept, connected to the original, and did not feature a villain whose idea of a quip is to have Lance... "Henricksen" quote The Spice Girls.

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