The Greasy Strangler Review [Fantastic Fest 2016]


Ever wanted to see a John Waters movie scored by Gene Belcher? That’s The Greasy Strangler. Chaos and perversion reign in premium fashion, almost challenging audiences to walk out on Jim Hosking’s “daring” feature debut. Non-continuity purists should throw their hands in the air and praise their new god. Life as you know it, does not relate to The Greasy Strangler, yet somehow all the dick-waving and throat-collapsing works (against all odds). Each line of ludicrous lingo and each disgusting act of deprivation. All the vulgar descriptions of cum-drenched partners and atrocities against morality. No single scene is suitable for general audiences, so strap in for the weirdest cinematic watch of 2016 – or ever.

Sky Elobar plays Big Brayden, a walking disco tour guide who lives and works with his father, Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels). There’s a murderer on the loose dubbed The Greasy Strangler (because he covers himself in grease), but Brayden sees no connection to his life (even though his father demands every meal be covered in grease). Brayden keeps living on, becoming friendlier with a hottie named Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo). It’s not long before Janet reveals her true intentions though, and Brayden starts to fight over his new fling with Ronnie. As a murderous deviant chokes people to death on a nightly basis, is it worth risking your girlfriend’s life for a quickie? That’s what Brayden will try to find out.

The Greasy Strangler is downright repugnant in so many mystifying aspects, but director Jim Hosking undoubtedly delivers the very film he wanted to. A fetishized obsession with grease slops itself over every scene, while “Big Ronnie” waves his gargantuan moosecock around like an infant’s arm dangling between his legs. You look to costumes, and most men are wearing hot pants. You look to dialogue, and phrases like “bullshit artist” and “smoothie” are uncommonly used in the most common way. “Obscure” doesn’t even begin to describe the grease-soaked eating habits of Big Ronnie, as meals glisten with fatty sludge and pools of oil. This isn’t art, it’s an endurance test for your sanity – one that’s unabashedly original, and monumentally [email protected]*ked beyond recognition.

Herein lies the problem – does The Greasy Strangler warrant such devotion to non-stop oddities? I want to say yes, given the utter fearlessness of some performers, but can’t outright. Many scenes linger far past their expectation if only to laugh in your face for watching such mindless muckiness – like elongated cuts of a naked Ronnie and topless Janet yelling “Hootie Tootie Disco Cutie!” while swaying in synchrony so Brayden can hear, or the twentieth conversation about how Ronnie needs his meals slathered in greasy goodness. Sure, monologue compositions are always different, but they never change in subject. Hoskins simply retreads the same shock value over and over until its grip becomes too lax, much like Brayden stroking his micropenis with futile aggression.

For as much climaxing as there is in The Greasy Strangler, audience euphoria is a bit harder to come by. There are some gags that work (I mean gags as both “jokes” and a physical reaction), and you’ll have no choice but to laugh as Hosking embraces deviant obscurity in a way that’d have Cecil B. Demented blushing. The intimidating weirdness of Ronnie’s constant nudity is somewhat hypnotizing in its pornographic perviness, especially when his dick-cleavage disco attire is out on display (new fashion statement?).

Likewise, Sky Elobar’s very Eric Wareheim-like performance evokes the X-rated essence of a Tim and Eric sketch that pushes on a little too long, but is not without its quirky moronics and gratuitous charms. Too far and too often, Hosking has to push that extra second to go even further than you’d expect, and more times than not, The Greasy Strangler would have benefited from just a smidgen of conformity. Kudos to the team for giving censors and puritans a sure-fire heart attack, but the question “why” is begged with too much frequency.

That said, Hosking displays style, and shows a tremendous amount of aesthetic personality. Settings are both grimy and inviting, in their run-down, derelict slumishness. They may play background to nothing but fart jokes, wiener looks and graphically vulgar descriptions of sexual stimulation, but Hosking does a good job dressing everything for the occasion. Greasy globs of white sludge will make your stomach churn, much like Ronnie’s off-color remarks such as declaring himself “Tarzan of cum jungle.” There’s more semen talk here then in a Kevin Smith movie, but Hosking never lets go of a disco-thriller vibe no matter how many bodies his sludge-drenched killer piles up. Or violates (fingering open nose holes?). Or removes body parts from to eat.

Listen, The Greasy Strangler comes with a massive caution sticker. Even if you think you have a strong stomach for abstract sexual-psycho-comedies about a killer coated in a thick, nauseating film of greasy grossness, I promise that Hosking will test your limits. My own rating is based purely on recognized ambitiousness and an artist’s unwavering attempt to make his dream movie, no matter how much that vision warrants a penitentiary committal. You will laugh at the most juvenile, asinine jokes, and be aggressively assaulted by full-frontal sexual actions involving the most unlikely of actors. Not everything strikes pitch-black creative genius, and sometimes Hosking gets a little too “ambitious” for comfort, but – and I don’t know what this says about me – there’s some kind of ballsy brilliance in a few shining moments of macabre, morosely unforgettable zaniness. I mean, this is a familiar story between father and son, and sweetness in unconventional bonding. Really. Not even sure how to explain it, but family is family, no matter how messy things get.

Words cannot prepare viewers for The Greasy Strangler, nor can they properly capture what Hosking translates to screen. God speed, future watchers. Most of you will hate this, but for the few that see what I did – and possibly more – welcome to my world. We should totally hang out some time, because I probably just alienated a large percentage of my current friend base with this bump. Those who get greasy together, stay together…

The Greasy Strangler Review [Fantastic Fest 2016]

The Greasy Strangler is a perverted fever dream that will please few audiences, but those who enjoy it are in for one f*#ked up treat.

About the author


Matt Donato

A drinking critic with a movie problem. Foodie. Meatballer. Horror Enthusiast.