The Greasy Strangler, 2016.
Directed by Jim Hosking.
Starring Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar and Elizabeth De Razzo.
Ronnie runs a Disco walking tour with his son, Brayden. When a sexy woman takes the tour, it begins a competition between father and son for her love. It also signals the arrival of an oily strangler who stalks the streets at night.
To the greatest credit to director Jim Hosking, the least shocking part of his depraved and quite gob-smackingly vile debut feature The Greasy Stranger is that of a pair of phallus’, one cumbrous, one infinitesimal. In a summer all-to-easy to describe as tepid, in which Jared Leto’s Joker came off as a teenager buying his way through Claire’s Accessories mid-noughties emo collection, it’s a welcome injection of genuinely nauseating depravity. Yet between moments of bizarre eroticism and violence straight out Looney Tunes, there’s warmth, all be it warmth buried elbow deep in grease.
Brayden (Sky Elobar) lives with his father “Big Ronnie” (Michael St.Michaels), a morose figure with a fetish for grease. During a tour of local sites in which the kings of disco may or may or not have frequented, Brayden bafflingly attracts the romantic attention of a tour-goer (Elizabeth De Razzo). All this as a Big Ronnie, covered head-to-toe in fat and grease, goes on a murderous rampage, rousing the suspicion of his son.
Dialogue is meaningless and plays like an argument between two toddlers, or that of the surreal Nickelodeon cartoons of the mid-90s. Long, winding arguments entail Big Ronnie and Brayden screaming “bullshit artist” at each other interrupted by flatulence while two tourists argue over the exact pronunciation of potato. There’s a clear cutting point, but Hosking finds a rhythm in the dialogue that surpasses the annoyance. The Greasy Strangler thrives on infuriating the audience through repetition; Lord knows if there’s any line more joyously infuriating than “hootie, tootie, disco cutie.”
There’s a very (very) convincing argument of it being entirely pointless. Attempts at introducing characters-all of whom are utterly vile – are futile while an extended sequence of Big Ronnie, lit by spotlight, dancing to an outdated disco number comes to an abrupt end as if it never happened. Clearly – and with total joy-this won’t be for everyone; it’s a mish mash of nonsensical ideas, imagery steeped in animal fat and close up shots of comical genitals, it basks in its absolute idiocy.
The film begins to falter during its final twenty minutes where its lack of any evident pacing begins to catch up, becoming less gross-out, almost more touching. Hosking tries his very hardest to have his cake and eat it and for the most part, he does. But at a certain point, after scene after scene of total unbridled nonsense, it begins to feel tired. Thankfully, there’s such commitment amongst the cast that even the rare moment of tedium is broken by further disgust.
There’s a feeling that The Greasy Strangler really could have gone further. Where it’s vulgar in its depiction of sex and dripping fat, violence is only ever broadly comic. It reaches for the depths of Brain Dead but only ever comes off as a melding of Tim and Eric and Tom and Jerry. Few moments genuinely shock; most instead rouse a muted shocked, sudden burst of laughter.
The score, written by Andrew Hung of the Fuck Buttons, is almost unbearably annoying, made of earworm snippets produced to aggravate and piss off. But akin to the rest of the film, it works as a part of the fatty packaging.
The Greasy Strangler is a welcome dose of fetishised grease, animal drippings and monster hogs. Jim Hosking found a niche and took it to its absolute furthest point. All together now, “HOOTIE, TOOTIE, DISCO, CUTIE.”
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
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