“The Greasy Strangler”
Strangely Funny and Totally Disgusting
I am not sure how to react to “Greasy Stranger”. My intellect say one thing and taste for trashiness says another. Like other movies of its kind it is disgusting and very strange. Jim Hosking directed this whatever it is and has secured his position as one of the weirdest and absolutely most disgusting midnight movies in memory. It is also very, very funny and in truly bad taste.
Forty-something year old Brayden (aka Big Brayden, aka Sky Elobar) still lives with his father Ronnie (aka Big Ronnie, aka Michael St. Michaels). They spend most of their time hanging around home in their undies, cooking up greasy meals, and running their walking disco tour. This tour gives Big Ronnie the perfect opportunity to show his talent as a “bullshit artist.” Ronnie has a second love as well— murder but a specialized kind of murder. We learn that Big Ronnie is also the deranged killer known as The Greasy Strangler; a man covered from head to toe in grease, including his rather sizable penis. The Greasy Strangler strangles unsuspecting people who have done him wrong.
The father and son’s comfy and greasy life changes when Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) joins their walking disco tour and immediately is attracted to Brayden. This annoys Big Ronnie because Brayden becomes distracted from their work. That annoyance quickly turns to jealousy when Big Ronnie realizes that his son is actually having sex with Janet.
The plot is secondary to the weird dialog and bizarre character exchanges. However, for those who cannot handle jokes about the male anatomy be warned— there are more scenes with exposed dicks than without. The exposed penis humor is so utilized you actually get bit desensitized to it. It doesn’t stop at the male anatomy. Many laughs come from how funny the naked human body actually is.
Hosking has managed to make one of the weirdest movies, maybe ever. He seemed to be aiming at John Waters-style transgression but without half of Waters’ wit and affection for eccentric lifestyles. The performers are directed in a stilted way to suggest “bad” acting; some of the supposedly clever one-liners are repeated long after they’ve stopped being funny; and the visual effects are made to look as amateurish as possible. Then there is an over-abundance of gore, lard, nudity, and bodily functions. It is as if Hosking was challenging us to see how long we’re willing to stick with his unpleasant characters, crude jokes, and cheesy violence before we decide to walk out.
What makes the film even more unfortunate is that there are hints of the incisive character study that this could have been. Big Ronnie may have unnatural obsessions with both grease and disco, and his son, Big Brayden may be a middle-aged case of arrested development. Look past the surface grotesqueness, we see that Hosking is essentially telling a family story: that of a faithful son who desires to break free from the control of an overbearing father who can’t bear to let him go. There’s a genuine childlike innocence to Brayden’s manner that contrasts sharply with Ronnie’s domineering insanity.
When Brayden meets Janet on one of the fake disco walking tours he hosts with his father, he believes he’s fallen in love for the first time in his life, Ronnie, finding his home life threatened by this woman, tries to sabotage his son’s happiness, including seducing Janet away from him. We must also remember that Ronnie is the Greasy Strangler who annoys everyone who annoys him. anyone who annoys him. Hosking and co-screenwriter Toby Harvard reveal this within the film’s first 15 minutes, thus placing the focus of the rest of the film on the sexual and psychological war that develops between Ronnie and Brayden.
Perhaps the film’s biggest problem is in its misogynistic treatment of Janet, its one major female character. Though at first she’s charmed by Brayden’s earnestness, midway through she gravitates toward Ronnie’s predatory ways with callousness. Outside of one scene in which she claims she feels “confused” in the wake of a recent breakup, Janet comes off as little more than a handy plot device that exists simply for the sake of Ronnie and Brayden to fight over.
We have a whole lot of grease and prosthetic junk in the movie but there is not much else. I see it representative of the worst instincts of midnight movies. Yes, its offensive and nasty and crude, etc. but it is also a lot of fun. Try to get a copy and groan along with it.
The Blu-ray includes 5.1 surround sound, stereo and English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired. Bonus features include: Teaser Trailer, Red Band Trailer, Exclusive Cast and Crew Interviews, Theatrical Trailer, Audio commentary with director Jim Hosking, Michael St. Michaels and Sky Elobar.