Detective John Hunton is investigating an iron folding machine that has found a taste for eating people. While he tries to solve the mystery, Bill Gartley, the owner, wants to find new victims for his machine. —IMDb
Though he has worked in the horror and dark fantasy genres for more than two decades, producer-writer-director Tobe Hooper’s significant contributions can all be traced to just two films: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Poltergeist (1982). Though produced under very different circumstances — the former was an ultra-low-budget exploitation potboiler while the latter was a major studio spectacular — both films were major commercial successes that reflected the zeitgeist of their day. Surprisingly, neither had quite the salutary effect on Hooper’s career as one might have expected. The filmmaker’s current viability, such as it is, has resulted from a canny shift to creating, producing and directing genre projects for the small screen. A popular artist who once helped set trends in entertainment evolved over time into a smooth craftsman striving to ride the wave of his genre’s acceptance into the mainstream.
The Austin, Texas native was first bitten by the… read more
Hooper stages everything with expressive bursts of smoke and color that lends to an already elegant formal construction. The way his camera glides pushes for an immediacy when the primary narrative reaches its most absurd. Anchored by Ted Levine's world-weary cop, this baroque nightmare does hint at the pitfalls of industrialization, especially in the make-up of a small town. Fantastic schlock.
The plot is nonsense (naturally), but the use of space, the wide-angle perspectives, the roving crane-shots and the grotesque appearances of the supporting cast turns the film into a fascinating experiment in atmosphere and style. Pure B-movie "expressionism", where every scene is awash with garish Bava-like colours (sickly yellows and greens, deep purples and reds) or lit from below; the long shadows and distorted features of faces bringing to mind Nosferatu or The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
It's a Stephen King story about a possessed laundry machine that kills and folds people. You don't go into a movie like this expecting something complex like The Shining or The Green Mile. Still, for a ludicrously trashy yarn with shoddy acting and off-kilter pacing, Tobe Hooper manages to make it "work," thanks in part to a gloriously hammy performance from Robert Englund.