THE MANGLER 2

The Mangler 2

THE MANGLER 2 (2002)

TAGLINE: “Escape before it rips you apart” / “You’ve been mangled.”

IMDB rating: 2.4/10

 It’s a secret that Hollywood has kept very well hidden for almost four decades but there are actually two Lance Henriksens.

 

lance henriksen

lance henriksen

    Lance Henriksen and…                            Lance Henriksen. Spot the difference.

 

Firstly – there’s the intense, versatile character actor with the craggy face and a lifetime behind the eyes who started out an impressive career with bit parts in ‘Dog Day Afternoon,’ ‘Network’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’ before making it big in the likes of ‘Jagged Edge,’ ‘Near Dark’ and X-Files-esque TV thriller ‘Millennium’ – while remaining one of only two actors to face off against a Terminator, a Predator and, thrice, an Alien.

Then there’s the other Lance Henriksen – the star of such classic movies as ‘Unspeakable’ (as apt a title as you’d ever hope to come across) and ‘The Untold’ (which unfortunately failed to remain so), whose only brush with anything that has seen the inside of an actual cinema was the disastrous video game crossover ‘Super Mario Bros.

Weirdly, to anyone other than immediate family members, both actors look pretty much identical – so much so that their respective talent agencies often field calls from oblivious casting directors looking to hire the other Henriksen. It’s a practice comically referred to along the corridors of Hollywood power as “Second Chance Lance.” So the story goes this whole situation served as inspiration for the Steve Martin / Eddie Murphy / Eddie Murphy comedy ‘Bowfinger.’

Even for those in the know, picking the two Lances apart in the flesh is a little tricky. On screen, however, it’s an absolute doddle. If the Lance Henriksen movie you’re currently watching is a balls-to-the-wall sci-fi actioner, a hyper stylised neo-western or a heart-stopping time travel adventure – it’s the former. But if you’re watching a mind-numbing cavalcade of tired clichés, obvious plot twists and heart-breaking tedium, it’s most definitely the latter. However, even given these criteria, it’s still nigh on impossible to work out which of the two Lances appears opposite Jean Claude Van Damme in ‘Hard Target.’

As you’ve no doubt guessed ‘The Mangler 2’ belongs on the second Lance’s CV.

Bearing a striking lack of similarity to its predecessor[1], the movie sees a good-girl-gone-bad packed off to a prestigious private high school – the Royal Collegiate College no less – where her nifty hacking skills cause a mysterious computer virus to infect the school’s state of the art security system. The rest of the student body have been packed off on a suspiciously convenient impromptu field trip (no doubt to slash the cost of film extras), so it’s left to a group of five identically disparate students – plus one Franglais chef – to survive the night when the now sentient central computer goes nuts and embarks on a kill-crazy rampage.

Technical transgressions – as well as bloody huge gaps in logic – be damned. No one involved in the film seems to care that none of it makes any sense. So why should we?

Running at a seemingly slim 97 minutes ‘The Mangler 2’ should be an easy-come, easy-go affair – a forgettable slice of horror hokum, barely long enough to bring about discomfort let alone annoyance. But somehow the filmmakers have inserted a computer virus of their own into the actual DVD which causes time itself to slow down. We swear we looked out of the window midway through the movie to see people moving at double and triple speed outside. Much of the running time is spent on superfluous nonsense and pointless filler that is meant to add a sense of foreboding, but just comes across as deathly dull. An apparently endless discussion of Hollywood movies with porn-a-like titles is – we presume – supposed to create a group dynamic amongst our protagonists, effectively endearing them to the audience as “real people.” The problem is that this – like the multitude of similarly irrelevant time-killers during the 48 life-draining minutes that precede any real action – hasn’t been crafted with anything like the requisite skill to create sufficient empathy or even passing interest in any of those concerned. It just heightens our desire to see them promptly mangled.

mangler

Laundraphobes rejoice! No mangles appear in this movie.

Even when the movie really should kick into gear, it splutters and stumbles to a conclusion that’s ultimately an insult to both those on screen and those staring agog from their sofa as they contemplate the life they could have lived had this silage heap of a movie not stopped it dead in its tracks.

It’s probably best to gloss over the details of Lance Henriksen’s actual involvement in the film – as Lance himself would probably prefer. Safe to say that he starts off as the school’s principled principle and ends it in screaming agony courtesy of a little Superman III / Demon Seed body horror – although one half-glance at the DVD cover or frustratingly all-encompassing trailer should give the whole game away. Lord knows how much of the movie’s $4m budget (yes, that’s dollars, not Chilean pesos) found its way into Henriksen’s bank account following this debacle but it wasn’t anywhere near enough – plus they’ve managed to spell his name wrong in the credits.

Supposedly there is a version of the movie out on DVD that has a glitch in the playing mechanism which skips approximately 2 minutes of the movie and completely excises the death of a major character. We can’t help thinking that the version we’ve seen must have had these glitches all the way through.

We apologise if our analysis of ‘The Mangler 2’ is a little light on good-humoured criticism and playful badinage. The fact that our first aide memoire after finishing the movie was “We’ve been assaulted by a film” should provide some indication of the mess it left us in.

 


[1] Adapted – read “mangled” – from a Stephen King short story and starring Robert “Freddy Krueger” Englund, ‘The Mangler’ features a laundry folding machine which develops a taste for human flesh after being possessed by a demon from Hell. The movie was directed by Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre / Salem’s Lot / Poltergeist) and released in March 1995 to critical indifference and modest box office.

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