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By Travis Eddings | April 23, 2002

“The Mangler 2” may be back to the same ol’ grind, but it’s still a cut below the rest. A sequel-of-sorts, “The Mangler 2” is a continuation in tone (if not in content) to the 1995 horror picture that was based on a short story penned by Stephen King.
The original “Mangler” was about a demonic Hadley Watson Model-6 Steam Ironer and Folder which gobbled up the workers of an industrial laundry factory in Rivers Valley, Maine. But this time around, writer and director Michæl Hamilton-Wright stops the presses and instead, centers the suspense in the hallowed (and soon to be haunted) halls of Royal Collegiate College.
Over the spring break vacation, a high-tech computer security system (the N2K) had been installed in the college. After the break, an assembly is called to inform the students of the new security system. “This is the same security system that will be installed to provide security on a number of military bases around the world,” Headmaster Badian boasts. He’s played by Lance Henriksen, who is to B-movie villains as Aunt Jemima is to pancake syrup.
Chelse Newton plays Jo (think a goth Drew Barrymore), a cocky rebel hacker with a billionaire father that doesn’t want her around. She and four friends end up trapped in the college after Badian denies them their geography field trip because of a school prank. And before you can say “You’ve Got Hell!,” a computer virus known as Mangler 2.0 is crashing the mainframe and the party.
This is some system. Apparently, not only does the program have control over all doors and elevators in the buildings on campus, it also commands washing machines, ovens, freezers, the sprinkler system and the gymnasium bleachers. And, the Mangler 2.0 keeps up with good housekeeping by relying on cables to do its dirty work. The cables slither down the halls, and have the capability to grasp garden shears and fire axes, to be used to decapitate pesky red herrings.
As much as “The Mangler 2” bytes, Henriksen is actually not too bad as the perverted dean. Too bad, the same can’t be said for the silly monster he morphs into at the film’s conclusion. One minute of having to dangle from the ceiling by wires plugged into his scalp, is I’m sure, enough to make the veteran character actor want to hit the escape key.
But save the movie’s best piece of dialogue to disk; when lecturing to the assembly about the new system, Henriksen states: “I strongly advise keeping a distance of at least five feet from these fences, anything that touches them will be instantly hit with an electric shock that would take down a 300-pound gorilla. I’m not making this up.”
Unfortunately, neither am I.
“The Mangler 2” (R, 91 minutes).

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