Friday, September 2, 2022

The Greasy Strangler


The Greasy Strangler
Jim Hoskins

The Greasy Stranger is about the friction between its bright surface and the oozing grease of horror and emotional damage that lurks underneath. It’s not a serious film but at the same time it does explore some complicated and messy emotional relationships, albeit with a lot of highly strange and gross things going on at the same time. Big Braden (Sky Elobar) and Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) are overly bright and audacious in public but behind closed doors and in the cover of darkness they reveal with highly greasy and unpleasant life they both inhabit in each other’s orbits.


When someone says they don't like the Greasy Strangler.

Big Braden is the emotional center of the film. He feels stifled in his day-to-day life and although he loves his father, Big Ronnie, he also is feeling the need to strike out on his own and that opportunity comes when he meets Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) while father and son give their walking tour of famous spots from disco history. Ronnie doesn’t like Janet coming between him and his son, more importantly he doesn’t like the thought of her undermining his authority. Braden’s arc is the struggle to find his own voice and purpose.

The biggest obstacle is the fact Big Ronnie is the Greasy Strangler.

There is no mystery here, the identity of the Greasy Strangler is revealed within minutes of the film starting which should serve as a tipoff that the movie is going to subvert the usual plot points. What is the Greasy Strangler? Apparently, he’s a local legend who kills people while covered in grease. That’s it. Why does Big Ronnie’s grease obsession drive him to kill? That’s a good question but it’s also an irrelevant one. The Greasy Strangler is just a fact of life for these characters. 


It's called fashion, sweaty. Look it up.

I think what is often overlooked is that as a viewer we are encouraged to identify with Braden and his struggles, we want his dad to see him as an equal. Sometimes you get exactly what you want, and it turns out the be the biggest mistake you’ve ever made.

The soundtrack helps set the tone of the film  with a mixture of almost whimsical and upbeat sounds, there is also something unrelenting and menacing about it as well. We get this reinforcement of the theme of zany and grotesque, and it works marvelously. 

The body horror of the film is gross but far too cartoonish to be taken seriously, eyes pop out, faces are punched in, gaping nose holes are poked, and just so many upsetting shots of weird looking dicks. The film also lives up to its title with plenty of shots of greasy food, grease in barrels, grease covered bodies, and more. It is a masterpiece of being absurdly disgusting. 

You’ll be thinking about The Greasy Strangler long after you’ve watched it, whether it’s laughing about the quotable dialog, recoiling from the horror, or being unable to get rid of the image of giant conical red tipped dicks. Proceed with caution.

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