Watching The Greasy Strangler was kind of equivalent to spending 90 minutes ripping off one crusty greasy Band-Aid over and over again. It teetered between disgusting, magnificent, and boring. There were over-the-top moments where I found myself guffawing and almost choking on my delicious beer. There were also too many drawn out segments where the audience was waiting for something interesting to happen in order to move the pencil thin story along, it kind of hobbled. This was definitely not the SXSW opening night film I was expecting, but it was what I deserved.
A spoof of sorts on the suspense/horror genres, with plenty of unsolicited nudity one does not want to see. The Greasy Strangler follows Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels), a leathery and cantankerous man, who lives with his shy and lonely son, Brayden (Sky Elobar). Within the first scene, Ronnie denies to Brayden that he is the greasy strangler. Admitting he is a “bullshit artist”, it’s fairly obvious, he is indeed the greasy strangler. Not to mention, the giant vat of grease in their house, or that Ronnie requires all of his meals and drinks to have “more grease”, or even the fact that he turns into a greasy naked monster and strangles people throughout the film. Perhaps the real meat of the story revolves around the father and son relationship and their separate and multiple sexual exploits with Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo), whom they both profess to love. Janet just seems to enjoy having sex with both men, period.
The overacting in the film is funny at first, reminiscent of Stela shorts or Wet Hot American Summer even. The dialogue sometimes goes on in a painful manner, but at some point comes back around to become funny again. There was definitely over usage of the prolonged fake laughter gag and there was definitely no shortage of flatulent humor, nasty food play, and half/fully naked men running around. The line “Bullshit artist” can be heard at least twenty times in the movie. Also, the costuming choices were interesting and the soundtrack was harrowing yet cheesy with odd cat synthesizer sounds.
Writer/Director Jim Hosking (Segment “G is for Grandad” in ABC’s of Death 2) has a pretty twisted idea of family dynamics and sharing significant others, but if you like watching grown men run around all greased up with flaccid prosthetic penises, you’ll have a couple of more chances to catch this odd film. I just tried to appreciate it for what it was trying to accomplish. I’m still not exactly sure what that was though…