The Mangler 2 (2001)


Canada/USA. 2001.


Director/Screenplay – Michael Hamilton-Wright, Producer – Glen Tedham, Photography – Norbert Kaluza, Music – Ferocious Le Fonque, Special Effects Supervisor – Rory Cutler, Makeup Design – Ingrid Bauer, Production Design – Matthew Budgeon. Production Company – Barnholtz Entertainment/Banana Brothers Entertainment/Mangler Productions Inc


Chelse Swain (Joanne Newton), Will Sanderson (Dan Channa), Daniella Evangelista (Emily Stone), Miles Meadows (Corey Banks), Lance Henriksen (Headmaster Bradeen), Philippe Bergeron (Chef Lecours), Dexter Bell (Will Walsh), David Christensen (Paul Cody), Jeff Doucette (Janitor Bob), Ken Camroux (Mr Newton), Garvin Cross (Mr Vessey), Brenda Campbell (Ms Shaw)


The exclusive Royal Collegiate College installs a new hi-tech computerized security system from the Newton Corporation. Headmaster Bradeen pulls up five prefects because someone has defaced the school web page. They are told that the prom will be cancelled if the culprit is not found. Jo Newton, the disaffected daughter of the head of the Newton Corporation, plots revenge by downloading the Mangler virus from a hacker website and releasing it into the new security system. This causes power cuts and disruptions everywhere. As the five try to return to their rooms, they find that the Mangler has become artificially intelligent and has rigged every piece of machinery it is connected to to kill everybody in the school.

The Mangler 2 is modern sequel generating of the worst order. Tobe Hooper’s The Mangler (1995) was one of the worst of all Stephen King adaptations and reviled by everybody who saw it. Precisely why filmmakers have seen fit to make not one but two sequels – this and the subsequent The Mangler Reborn (2005) – is a complete mystery. In actuality, The Mangler 2 is a bogus sequel – there is no connection whatsoever between the first film and this. There is not even any possessed laundry presses – at the closest, there is a minor scene here where a woman is chewed up by a washing machine. There is the vaguely similar theme of machinery being taken over and going out of control but the explanatory rationale in either film is at almost entirely opposing extremes – The Mangler is supernatural/occult in origin, while The Mangler 2 rests solidly within the realms of science-fiction.

The Mangler 2 at least has a certain canniness in jumping aboard the modern (early 00s) technological wave with the possessing laundry press now becoming a virus downloaded from a hacker site. From there however, the film jumps into the same ridiculous territory as Ghost in the Machine (1994), seeming to understand no difference between computer, surveillance and electrical systems, assuming they are all somehow interconnected simply because they are machinery. The computer also uses irony and colloquialisms just like a human would. It also seems to have watched contemporary tv shows, accusing victims of “being the weakest link” and sending taunting messages “You’ve been Mangled,” while the possessed Lance Henriksen even comes out with the Spice Girls anthem “tell me what you really, really want” at one point.

In all other regards, The Mangler 2 is a ridiculous film. It seems almost entirely construed around a series of novelty despatches – Brenda Campbell being dragged into a standard laundry roller by her hair; Dexter Bell being boiled alive by an overheated fire extinguisher system; janitor Jeff Doucette being followed by a mechanical combination of wires and scissors like something out of Virus (1999). The climactic scenes, involving Lance Henriksen giving a remarkably straight-faced performance as he is taken over by the computer and deciding he wants to do a Demon Seed (1977) and mate with heroine Chelse Swain, are laughably preposterous. The victims are a standard line-up of teen characters from these sorts of films.

The film is notedly missing a section of around two minutes where Miles Meadows is despatched. This was apparently due to a glitch on the tape – it is evident of a distributor’s complete indifference to the film that nobody has gone back to the original masters to restore the section even though the film continues to be re-released several years later. Director Michael Hamilton-Wright has yet to be granted another opportunity to direct.

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