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“The Greasy Strangler” Descends into Depravity with the Ease of a Cult Classic

The Greasy Strangler might be what it feels like to go mad.  The film is best described as a kind of John Waters fever dream (or maybe wet dream), that combines a penchant for bizarre sexuality with a tongue-in-cheek slasher film.  The acting is purposely hammy, and each kill more absurd than the last.  There are sequences that physically made me ill, and others that left me utterly befuddled. You can call it weird, disgusting, senseless, or even a fucking embarrassment of a film – but you can’t call it derivative or boring.

Yeah, I guess there is a plot.  Set in Los Angeles, Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and his son Big Brayden (Sky Elobar) run a Disco Walking tour of dubious value.  Essentially, it is just Big Ronnie relaying mundane stories about various disco people, most of which he probably makes up.  On one of these tours, Big Brayden meets Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo), and the two start dating.  Big Ronnie simultaneously courts Janet, and eventually steals his son’s girlfriend.  Awkward is an understatement.  Of course, this is all compounded by the fact that Big Ronnie is the greasy strangler.

The greasy strangler is a naked, greased up creature that strangles people until their eyes pop out.  Sometimes he punches someone’s face in, but mostly he strangles the people who get in his way.  Often, he eats the eyeballs of his victims.  To transform himself back into Big Ronnie, the greasy strangler cleans off all the grease by walking naked through a car wash owned by a friend of his named Big Paul (Gil Gex).  BY the way, not everyone is named “Big ____”, there’s also Oinker and Ricky Prickles.  You know, normal names.

A large contributor to the gross-out factor of The Greasy Strangler is the food.  Big Ronnie has to eat greasy food, and is quick to complain when Big Brayden fails to make his food greasy enough to lubricate it when it is going down his throat.  At a hotdog cart, Ronnie opens the grease trap and “thoroughly dips that dog”, much to the disdain of the vendor.  It is nauseating.

Overt sexual perversion is also front-and-center.  Full frontal nudity, both for the male actors and Elizabeth De Razzo, are commonplace.  The film goes out of its way to show dicks, as Big Ronnie wears a confusing disco suit with the entire crotch cut out.  Big Ronnie’s penis is stretched along one of his legs and tucked into pant leg, so you only get the shaft in this particular get-up.

Director Jim Hosking seems determined to annoy with The Greasy Strangler.  There are multiple times where the characters erupt into lengthy refrains.  Early on, it is from a pair of tourists who are demanding free drinks while on the Disco Tour.  They might say, “free drink” 20 times.  That is quaint compared to the number of times Big Ronnie and Big Brayden call each other, “Bullshit Artist”, which at first is a funny kind of affectation, but it wears itself out quickly.  But the worst transgression occurs when Big Ronnie calls Janet a, “Hootie tootie disco cutie”.  These words, they particular intonation, and the context in which they appeared, are forever etched in my brain.  I reckon they will keep me up at night, periodically, until I have shuffled off this mortal coil.  Hootie Tootie Disco Cutie.

The Greasy Strangler could become a modern poster child for the perverse, “not for everyone” style of gross-out black comedy.  Some who watch this movie will delight in its weirdness and candor, and others will swear it has exactly zero redeeming qualities.  I probably can’t go so far as to say I delighted in watching this flick, but it was unique, interesting, and utterly bizarre.  This would be a fantastic movie to watch in a large group, as it is sure to elicit guffaws, disgust, and impassioned opinions.  It wouldn’t surprise me if The Greasy Strangler ascends to cult film status in the coming years.  It is just too distinct a flavor, like grease spread across a piece of toast.


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Derek Jacobs

Chicago,IL 60606

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