Weirdo father Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and his grown son Big Brayden (Sky Elobar) share a dilapidated house and run a disco tour company together in LA. Their relationship is tested when Brayden becomes besotted with a local girl named Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo). Ronnie grows jealous and things are complicated further by the killings of a mysterious psychopath known only as The Greasy Strangler.
Once in a while a film comes along that is almost totally indefinable. While crafting a work that’s both unique and compelling will always be complicated, Director Jim Hosking and Writer Toby Harvard nail it with their amazingly freaky feature debut: The Greasy Strangler. The creative partners who helmed the “G is for Grandpa” segment in The ABCs of Death 2, deliver a disgusting, obscure and flamboyant disco thrill-ride which bears the traits of movie master absurdists: David Lynch, John Waters, Tom Six, Todd Solondz and early Pete Jackson. While The Greasy Strangler may also reverberate like the retched up work of Wes Anderson sprayed down the side of a toilet (in Sweden), or the malformed love child of all of the aforementioned, at it’s core lies a matchless father/ son story: a character study submerged in sparkling gunk then sprinkled with flecks of contaminated man jam.
Forty-something son Brayden is a “manic depressive who craps the bed, should be on medication” and is writing a Rastafarian sci-fi/ fantasy novel: an “interactive fable” about digital trolls. Meanwhile, dad “Big Ron” is a grimy old codger with a grease fixation. He appears like the wispy white haired, pink hot pant wearing corpse of Klaus Kinski, after too much time in a tanning salon. Even though the protagonist couple’s warped world is fascinating enough, their story grows weirder upon the arrival of Janet: a hairy temptress who turns Brayden into a total “cheesy old cornball”, unlocking a side of him that father Big Ron has never seen before, and is not particularly fond of. While The Greasy Strangler’s horror comedy is constant to the point of face aching, not all of the humour works. Big laughs are provoked by the film’s smaller moments. Facial expressions, gesticulations and distorted vocal tones tickle but some grander sequences are also amusing. A cheesy dinner date scene which would be a nightmare for normal people but works for Brayden and Janet, while awkward phone sex scenes and cringe-worthy seductions involving fruit smearing prove suitably grin-splitting (“Do you like… oily grapefruit?”).
A toxic nursery pop score by Andrew Hung adorns the eye-ball popping kill scenes and surreal imagery like a sick smeared sequin glove. The backdrop is also coloured by a wide variety of vibrant supporting characters including a local pig-nosed geek and blind bloke who runs a car wash. Scenes featuring altercations with vending machines and anecdotes about Michael Jackson also make The Greasy Strangler rich with weird and wonderful detail and unfathomably outlandish. There is so much colour and character you almost don’t notice how slight the story is. Distractions take the form of noxious fart humour, naked olive grinding, frightening dance sequences and freaky penises while it’s soiled kitsch design and retro costumes seem moulded by the inmates of a mental asylum. The Greasy Strangler is a one of a kind horror comedy that will make you vomit with joy until your eyes pop out. It’s poetic, slimy and completely inappropriate but stupendously twisted and squelchy fun.
Words: Daniel Goodwin (@privateutopias)