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It must be hard being Stephen King. Once you've thought up psycho cars, telekinetic schoolgirls, people who can see disasters in the future and everything else, it must be tricky coming up with new scary ideas all the time.

Then again, it's no picnic being a freelancer for SFX, either. Picture the scene: it's a balmy August evening, the sort that's ideal for sitting on your balcony with a nice glass of cool citrus cordial and a few summer sounds on the stereo. So what do I do? Do I sit and watch the sun going down over the park, maybe chill out with a couple of good friends and breathe the cool night air? Nope, I sit in front of a TV and subject myself to the 101 minutes of complete soapy titwank that is The Mangler.

Now, starting off with the premise that the villain of your piece is a giant immobile sheet-ironing machine is a pretty steep mountain for any movie to climb. Simultaneously battling against a script that has all your characters continually sticking bits of their bodies into said machine, even when they've ascertained beyond the remotest shred of doubt that it's possessed by an evil demon, doesn't help much either. A plot with more holes in it than a string vest factory could be the final straw (by the end I'd utterly given up on having the faintest idea what was actually happening), but if that doesn't finish you off completely, then how about some ham acting of the highest order, with people yelling in what sounds like mild discomfort while being slowly and agonisingly ground to death in an industrial crushing machine?

Fortunately, when The Mangler reached its phew-it's-dead-or-is-it-well-blow- me-no-it-isn't 'surprise' ending, I was already lying on the floor in front of the telly, or I might have fallen out of my chair laughing, perhaps incurring some minor injury. Be thankful for that, and for the fact that I watched this credulity-shreddingly poor film so you don't have to.

In The Mangler's defence, it must be said that if you get a few mates round and drink a lot of beer, you might get a few laughs out of it if you treat it as a comedy. And why not? After all, Tobe Hooper's definitely taking the piss.


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