Produced for less than $100,000 and third entry in a series that, frankly, should never have yielded a first entry, Lions Gate's The Mangler Reborn feels more like someone's home movie than an actual motion picture. It's not just that this is a bad movie; it's that The Mangler Reborn is barely a movie at all.
Imagine you're trapped in one boring house for 80 minutes, and the only thing you can see is a bunch of aimless idiots wandering through hallways, getting lost, and occasionally earning a bop on the head from a mallet-wielding lunatic. That's pretty much the long and the short of The Mangler Reborn. It's not scary, it's not funny, and the Act III blood-splurtings feel tacked on as an apology to the gorehounds who somehow made it a full hour into this horrible mess.
Apparently the plot is this: A repairman is trying to rebuild the original "mangler" (aka "haunted laundry press") up in his attic. He apparently becomes possessed by the evil machinery, and spends the next hour bopping people on the head with a mallet before feeding the shrieking asses into a conveyer belt surrounded by knives, saw blades, and tiny cleavers.
People intermittently wander into the house, bop, mangle, repeat. That's it. That's all there is.
Points for trying to neophyte filmmakers Erik Gardner & Matt Cunningham, who obviously had a moronic concept and a skimpy budget to contend with, but the kids are at the mercy of the In-Name-Only Sequel Machine, which means that any horror title with only the slightest amount of name recognition will, eventually, yield two or three sequels. The facts that Tobe Hooper's The Mangler is a well-known joke among the horror fans and that The Mangler 2 is one of the worst dungpiles ever committed to film mean nothing to the fine folks at Barnholtz Entertainment. The outfit must have picked up the "Mangler" license for about $4.50, which is quite the worthwhile investment for the distributor behind The Jackhammer Massacre, The Slaughterhouse Massacre, and Ghost Watcher 2.
Low-budget, derivative, silly, and pointless I can forgive if a low-end horror flick can deliver the goods on one level or another, and I really was hoping to come out of The Mangler Reborn calling it something like "unexpectedly entertaining," but after watching the entire 80 minutes, I now know that this is impossible. This is a formless, meandering, and stunningly boring little turkey, and no amount of Gorehound Goodwill can help me to locate the bright spots. I fully believe that Cunningham and Gardner could go on to bigger and better things ... because they sure in hell couldn't bang out anything much worse than The Mangler Reborn. Unless they decided to go ahead and remake The Mangler 2, that is.
Trivia tidbits: Horror fans will recognize Reggie Bannister from the Phantasm series, while the true hardcores will spot director Jeff Burr as a lawnmowing imbecile. Meanwhile, anyone with a pair of working eyeballs will recognize the DVD case as a blatant copy of the SAW vibe.
Video: It's a pretty grungy-looking anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) transfer, which does little to hide the fact that the flick was shot in one house with one camera and not enough lighting.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 track that'll have you reaching for the VOL+ button. Optional subtitles are available in English and Spanish.
Extras: There's a 20-minute no-frills behind-the-scenes featurette, a photo gallery, an audio commentary with lead actor Weston Blakesley and co-writers/co-directors Cunningham & Garnder, and a bunch of trailers for Slipstream, Happy Endings, Ghost Watcher 2, Ghetto Dawg 2: Out of the Pits, and Werewolf Hunter: The Legend of Romasanta.
The world needs another Mangler sequel like it needs another Leprechaun, Hellraiser, or Children of the Corn. And somehow these things make just enough money to warrant subsequent installments, which I find sadly hilarious.