Another week, another Horror movie Marathon. Last week, with Frozen (2010), Tusk, and Zombie Strippers, I was really regretting this series. Those three movies were all awful, more even worse, they were boring. So this week, I picked three movies, that I thought would at least be weird enough that I could get a kick out of them. So I chose to watch The Mangler, Hausu, and 2001 Maniacs. The premise behind all three of these movies is absurd. Did any of them manage to deliver a good movie on top of their insane premise? Let’s find out.
The Mangler (1995)
The movie about a killer laundry press. That may sound like a joke, and it is, only the creators did not think this was a joke and tried to treat it like a real horror movie. Apparently, this is based on a short story by Stephen King, but it is one Stephen King story I have not read. If the premise alone is not enough to make the movie sound crazy, the fact Robert Englund is in it should do the trick
In a movie about a killer Laundry press, the laundry press is not the craziest thing. Nor is the fact that the laundry press comes to life at the end and starts chasing the characters alive. Nor is the part where we learn that if a part of your body goes into the machine, that you become possessed but the machine. All of these facts about the movie are crazy, but the craziest part is still Robert Englund’s character. I don’t really know how to explain his character. He wears leg braces, wears glasses with a built-in eye patch, and talks with this weird accent. There is one scene, where the Laundry Press get’s its first kill by eating an old lady. While everyone else is trying to stop the machine or pull her out, he is just flailing around, saying a bunch of jibberish, and banging his cane around. It is bizarre.
I had to try watching five different versions of this movie because I thought the sound was behind the video. Turns out, that is just the movie. Yes for whatever reason when they made this movie, they thought it would be best to dub the audio over top of the video, instead of recording the sound as the actors deliver their lines. So the sound comes way after the actor’s lips move, making it look like a Japanese Kung Fu movie that was dubbed over in English. There are certain parts where it looks like they are just flapping their lips as if the director gave the actors a spoonful of peanut butter like they do when directors want to make it look like an animal is talking.
Every character in this movie looks like they are constantly on the edge of having a heart attack. I can understand everyone looking sweaty while inside the laundry room, I have to imagine with all that machinery those places got hot. But even when outside it most of the character look miserable, like they are about to keel over.
Now with all this going on, one would think this movie would be a good time. One of those movies that are just so over the top that you cannot help but laugh at it. But this is not the case. Despite it being bizarre, it is also boring. Yea, I got a kick out of a few scenes, but when Robert Englund isn’t being a psychopath the movie is stale. Every other character was a bore, there are long stretches where the laundry press does nothing. Most of the movie is a just boring uninteresting cop talking to his boring uninteresting friend, who just so happens to be a demonologist.
It is also an eyesore. Everything looks off. The next movie that I am going to talk about came out 20 years earlier, and yet this movie looks older. It is often hard to make out what is even on the screen. The sets are ugly and cluttered, the camera work is sloppy. The editing is often jarring.
And this has a good director. Tobe Hooper made this film. Hooper is a horror icon. He gave us horror classic like Poltergeist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Other icons of the industry like Wes Craven credit Tobe with being an inspiration to them. But then he put this piece of crap out.
The only thing I can say about it is that it is not the usual generic unscary horror film that gets trodded out by Hollywood. It tried to be original, it just failed. I can give more credit to something that tries to be different but falls on its face, than something that does not try to be anything.
Hausu( A.K.A. House)(1977)
What the hell is this movie? Never have I been more at a loss for words about a movie. The movie is made to intentionally look cheap. Most of the backgrounds are hand drawn, and the special effects look fake. But the cheapness works within the context of the movie.
The basic concept of a movie is a group of young women go on summer vacation to one of their Aunt’s house. But it turns out the house is haunted, and they all get attacked by inanimate objects. Sounds simple enough, but this movie delivers it in such a bizarre fashion. For one, there are really disturbing things happening on screen, but the music often played over the top of it is so joyous. Just listen to the theme of the movie.
First off, I have to address the fact it sounds like Black Parade by My Chemical Romance. Also, the movie is just so upbeat. This juxtaposition works so well and makes it even creepier. Kind of in the same way how the music in the one infamous scene in Reservoir Dogs works so well. When a director is confident enough that what they are showing you is disturbing, they do not need the crutch of gloomy music to make it more so. In a weird way, the happy music makes everything even scarier. The score/soundtrack, in general, is all really well done and effective.
Every character has a very on the nose name, and all are defined by a singular character trait. There is the character Kung Fu, she is brave and good at Kung Fu. There is Prof, she is very smart and logical. There is Melody, she likes music. Mac likes to eat. Fantasy is always daydreaming. Sweet is really sweet and innocent. It is all purposely campy.
If I had to come up with a criticism of it, I would say there are some early plotlines that are unneeded. They never go any year, they don’t set anything up, and just keep us from getting to the strange and fun part of the movie. But that is a very minor complaint. In the end, I think the movie is exactly what the creators wanted it to be.
I wish I could better put into words how great this movie it is. It is hard to explain. If I had to compare it to something, I would say it has a similar tone and humor as Too Many Cooks has. It mixes absurdist humor with horror. But whatever it is, I love it. I would highly recommend watching it.
2001 Maniacs (2005)
This movie is about Confederate Ghost Cannibals. The Confederate…ghost…cannibals, live in a throwback southern town. Eight Yankees from three different groups happen to get stuck in town and stay for the Jamboree. Only they do not know that the jamboree is an annual way for the CONFEDERATE GHOST CANNIBALS to kill, and eat Northerners. See, during the Civil War, a group of rogue Union Soldiers came through a Georgia town and killed 2001 Confederate citizens. So in revenge, the ghosts will not rest until they have killed 2001 Northerners. And the movie is just as absurd as the premise suggests it would be.
The movie is not good, but it is fun. It has everything you would expect a b horror movie to have. The gore is top notch, with many gruesome death scenes ranging from one woman being drawn and quartered, one person being forced to drink acid, or another guy who, let me check my notes, gets his dick bitten off. It has tons of nudity. And, it has the thing every b horror movie needs to round it out, Robert Englund playing an over the top character. Englund plays the mayor of these confederate ghost cannibals, and he seems to be having a lot of fun in the role.
The acting is awful, the movie goes out of its way to be offensive. But if you are the type of person who can deal with that type of stuff, it may be worth a watch. It never tries to take itself seriously, the movie knows how dumb it is. It doesn’t even try to be scary. It makes some funny jokes and has some good kills. If you are looking for something smart, put this movie aside. But if you want to drink with some friends and watch a really bad movie and have some fun, this is not a bad option.