Review: The Greasy Strangler (2016)

Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #715

 

 

Number of Views: Two
Release Date: January 22, 2016 (Sundance)
Sub-Genre: Cult Movie
Country of Origin: United States
Box Office: $43,580 (USA)
Running Time: 93 minutes
Director: Jim Hosking
Producers: Daniel Noah, Andrew Starke, Ant Timpson, Josh C. Waller, Elijah Wood
Screenplay: Toby Harvard, Jim Hosking
Special Effects: Martin Astles
Visual Effects: Thomas Proctor
Cinematography: Mårten Tedin
Score: Andrew Hung
Editing: Mark Burnett
Studios: Drafthouse Films, Rook Films, SpectreVision, Timpson Films
Distributor: FilmRise
Stars: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo, Gil Gex, Abdoulaye NGom, Holland MacFallister, Sam Dissanayake, Joe David Walters, John Yuan, Matt Yuan, Mel Kohl, Sal Koussa, Jesse Keen, Carl Solomon, Dana Haas

 

Suggested Audio Fry-Up 🍳

 

[1] Andrew Hung “Fizzy Barf”

[2] Andrew Hung “Stoned On Fart Fumes”

[3] Andrew Hung “Make Love To Me Brayden”

[4] Andrew Hung “Disco Kings”

[5] Andrew Hung “Get on The Greasy”

 

I do love a nice slice of fried irony. Try this one on for size – I haven’t the vaguest clue how I first came to hear about Jim Hosking’s double daring debut full length feature, The Greasy Strangler. To be fair, I really should have been better prepared, given that the British director already dropped a hefty hint of how slack the hinges were three years back with his G is for Grandpa segment from ABCs of Death 2. Furthermore, the fact that Elijah Wood is on production duties should have flagged this up on my radar way sooner as I dig the dude’s game to the nth degree. However, just like the sinister shadow mincer of its title, it snuck up on my subconscious when I was least expecting it and extended itself a formal invite to come and prod around inside my personal head space with its gangly talons.

Soon afterwards, I found myself perusing the shelves of my local DVD stockist and there it was in all its saturated glory, literally pleading to be provided a home for the night. It just felt fated, like we had been destined to meet this way, and I had a fair idea then that my life would never be quite the same after donating Hosking’s movie 93 minutes of my hard-earned down time. Having now done the dastardly deed (twice in one night I might add), I feel just about ready for my a.m. brain cleansing but the entire integrity of my reality appears to have curiously shifted. I fear I will never fully recover from this particular moonlit matinée and The Greasy Strangler appears to have claimed another victim.

I’ve gleaned tremendous amusement from watching numerous critics attempting to categorize Hosking’s putrid delight and coming away with little more than short change and a side order of tense nervous headaches. You see, it’s nigh on impossible to pigeon-hole a movie such as this when, chances are, no pigeon in its right or wrong mind would agree to shared residency with such a vulgar, depraved, nauseating, and horrendously moreish slab of cinematic elk phlegm.

Some have drawn comparisons to the cinematic eccentricities of vintage John Walters (mostly unfavorably I might add) and there are undoubtedly parallels to be discerned. However, to lump The Greasy Strangler together with any other motion picture ever committed to celluloid would be doing it a great indignity and it pretty much has that side of things sewn up all on its own. On the upside, Cecil B. Demented can finally enjoy his much-deserved clean bill of mental health as there’s a new swinging dick in town and his name is somewhat fittingly Big Ronnie.

Have you ever seen such a fine figure of a man in all your years? I guess we should begin by addressing the elephant in the room as it’s clearly packing some ungodly trunk. On primary exposure, this gargantuan moose cock looks like it could arm wrestle an anaconda and steal its milk money. However, closer analysis reveals said tool to be deeply septic, most probably highly contagious, and it’s host should be quarantined immediately pending further tests.

I always found senior citizens and genitals to be an uncomfortable mix and Big Ronnie has done little to alleviate my concerns in that department. Thank fuck he’s a geriatric as I’d fear for any pussy willow looking to accommodate a length of this rancid (and partially deflated) swollen red flag pole. Apologies for being crude, must have something to do with the company I’m keeping nowadays. Ladies and germs, I bring you, the perished fruit of Big Ronnie’s loins and try not to swoon too hard as I’m running frightfully low on smelling salts.

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and I make them right where papa’s beloved man-child Big Brayden is concerned. Alas, while Brayden is a chip off the old block with regards to resembling a convicted rapist just like pops, he drew the decidedly short straw when cock and balls were being dished out and barely has a nozzle to tug on when it comes time for some lights out greasy strangling of his own. It hardly seems fair that genetics passed him over in such a callous fashion but that’s just the hand he was dealt at birth regrettably.

It ain’t all bad however as Brayden is the sole heir to Ronnie’s estate should the old buzzard perish during active duty and disco-themed walking tour guides are few and far between in these parts so he stands to inherit some nest egg once he defibrillator paddles pack up. In exchange for such a sought-after position at the cusp of an empire, Brayden is required to fulfil nominal tasks such as preparing daddy’s daily wiener and ensuring it’s extra greasy, while entertaining his frequent pathological delusions about former glories concerning “close friends” Michael Jackson and The Bee Gees.

Here is where the plot congeals like lard in a warthog’s groin crease. You see, if Big Ronnie’s ceaseless blatherings tally up to anything more than mucal deposits, then it was Brayden’s sole actions that drove his mother away into the arms of the unmentionable Ricky Prickles many moons back and the burden of culpability weighs down hard on the young man’s lopsided shoulders with only his oily mane to soak up the blame.

Daddy dearest may be a shameless bullshit artist (not that he’ll ever admit to it) but he’s also the closest thing to a male role model that Brayden has left now and that’s game, set and match for Big Ronnie. That is unless the prodigal son bags himself a bona fide ☆ Hootie Tootie Disco Cutie ☆ on his speedwalking travels and that sort of shit only happens in the movies right? With the nefarious Greasy Strangler very much at large and throttling unsuspecting hot dog vendors as they sit down to enjoy their afternoon bowel movement, true “once in a lifetime” love couldn’t possibly be on the menu could it?

You’re very much darned in your tooting it could. Janet may look like regular hoochie on primary inspection, but don’t be fooled by those big brown eyes and cute little elbow dimples as this particular Hootie Tootie Mama is almost probably a wrong ‘un. It’s too late for Brayden, he’s finally located his puzzle piece and is already conjuring up names for their hell spawn. But the sweet and innocent act dissolves like jizz in a hot tub the very moment Big Ronnie drops his loin cloth while eavesdropping on her thunderous latrine antics.

All it takes is the piss of a good woman to awaken the top dog’s Kraken, and failing that, the piss of any woman will do, preferably dipped in goose fat. Could we have an illicit affair on our hands? Surely cruel fate wouldn’t be so bold or heartless. We need a happy ending here that doesn’t result in Janet’s spine being permanently realligned and Brayden’s aching heart sautéed in segments. Throw us a bone Hosking please as all these fatty deposits are likely to result in a coronary soon.

Never fear Disco Cuties. Love lifts us up as high as it possibly can without putting its back out. You know, where the eagles die and all that malarkey. You see, while Big Ron’s schlong may be able to reach 99.9% of all household organs, that doesn’t account for the heart and, after straying from the path of righteousness, Janet just remembered where all those clogged arteries lead. Against all conceivable odds, Hosking’s film opens its hypnotizing spray of tail feathers to reveal a genuine thumper at its core, albeit barely functioning and midway through its third cardiac arrest in rapid succession.

Sometimes it’s best just to quit while you’re ahead as, while endurance plays a key role in the whole Greasy Strangler experience, it walks a decidedly slender line being art and flat-out obnoxious and occasionally surrenders a little too much kindness for my personal liking. Improv is all well and good, nay the more the merrier under normal circumstances, but there ain’t nothing fair and just about watching Brayden putting in all the elbow grease, frantically thrashing his microscopic jerky twizzler in futile fury, while Big Ron’s out on one of his mean-spirited “fucking cunt” rants because no bastard dared or cared to yell cut.

Over-indulgencies aside, it’s fruitless staying mad with The Greasy Strangler for too long as it provides so darned much to gorge the senses upon and every last delirious moment is compulsive. Andrew Hung’s mesmerizing score has a childlike quality to it that charms as much as it disarms and is truly a thing of hardcore majesty. The screenplay from Hosking and co-writer Toby Harvard is witty and shows regular flashes of ingenuity and it never once feels like the entire crew aren’t in on the joke so kudos to all involved in what must have been a testing but incredibly fun shoot. Bells and whistles aside though, what really sorts the sludge from the drudge here are our trio of performers.

Michael St. Michaels and Sky Elobar are clearly in their element double daring each other to delve deeper into the residual gloop of dual-pronged insanity like true father and son. It’s actually rather endearing watching the pair as they skip through the everglades minus a solitary care in the world, reunited by the collective urge to strangulate whilst slathered head to toe in the worst carbs ingredient lists can conjure. Moreover, when you cast your eye over St. Michaels’ body of work, it’s hard not to get a warm fuzzy feeling from observing him in his absolute element.

Other than being provided a brief run-out for Jason Bognacki’s atmospheric occult film, Another, in 2014, it’s been a decidedly dry spell stretching way back to 1987 and a bit-part in Robert Scott’s The Video Dead is hardly the ideal showcase for one’s talents as an artist. Here he resembles Mick Jagger after a three-day bender and knocking back one too many fizzy pops with Leo Sayer, and Hosking’s lens hugs every last contour of his weathered face respectfully.

Elobar’s commitment to the cause is no less noteworthy as he piled on the pounds relentlessly to play Brayden and suffers every indignity coming his way open-handedly. Sporting prescription frames and a comb over with nowhere to go, he has the look of a world-weary middle-aged man-child well and truly down to pat and his habitual tantrums afford him the opportunity to showcase a surprising level of range for a character painted so broadly.

Meanwhile, it’s Elizabeth De Razzo who provides the sugar frosting and kudos to the girl for sticking this one out to its gelatinous end. Were it not for her sweet pouting cheeks (or whichever bunghole double wishes to remain uncredited), then it would be a whole different story entirely. Thanks to her unswerving dedication to a cause that may never be found, the endurance of the gods, and the most winsome faux naïveté, she truly is our very own ☆ Hootie Tootie Disco Cutie ☆.

Many will find The Greasy Strangler one too many bogus carbohydrates to endure and I’d fully respect your decision to supply me a wide berth from hereon in simply for associating with it. However, I’d much prefer you oil up and come for a dip in the snot tub time machine alongside us. If you’ve ever dropped acid, then this is as close to air miles as it gets, a banquet of optical and audible candies to feast upon for the tiny sum of mild gut rot or three days on the crapper, whichever comes first.

You’ll cringe, retch a little, hurl some, feel filthy, wish you were dead sporadically, potentially soil yourself laughing repeatedly, fall in love an ickle bit, fixate on chronic acne for so long that it will begin to resemble oatmeal porridge, and wish you could unsee an old man’s anus – all for the miniscule cost of 93 minutes of your life you’ll never get back and any accompanying hallucinogens. Bear in mind that I double dropped The Greasy Strangler in a single evening (the second time with accompanying audio commentary which is practically unheard of for Keeper) and that should provide all the evidence you need of where my flag is planted. 

I’d love to say I’m above this kind of puerile codswallop but that would make me a bullshit artist and we already ascertained that three’s a crowd. Besides, Hosking has done more than enough here to convince this greasemonger in training to follow the trail of sludge to his next film and, with the team currently in place around him, it promises to be quite the event, let me tell you. Thus, in the true spirit of all things deplorable and the words of Big Ronnie himself – “I must remind you that all circumstantial evidence is meaningless. Please end all inquiries here”. By my estimations, I make it time to head down to the car wash and rinse away all this stubborn grime. This one may take some scrubbing.

Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 8/10

Grue Factor: 4/5

 

For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Have you ever watched a demonic talon prod around inside an open nose hole until pus oozes out?

 

How about some harmless lid flipping complete with spewing cranial confetti?

 

Whaddya say? Do you reckon Big Ronnie suspects those freshly plucked eyeballs to be lychees?

 

Is it just me or is that Gene Kelly I hear turning in the topsoil?

 

Or how about this one. Ever stared at a pubic thatch for so long that it has begun to morph into Gandalf’s beard?

 

I’d hurry that shit up if I were you young lovers. As sure as walls have ears, bed springs have crispy old man dongs lurking beneath them.

 

Too late. It’s time to feel the full extent of Big Ronnie’s greasy wrath and, while you’re at it, check out the fresh set of chest udders he developed during his catnap. Man or cow? We may never know the answer.

 

Read A Fantastic Fear of Everything Appraisal
Read ABCs of Death 2 Appraisal
Read Bad Acid Appraisal
Read Cooties Appraisal

 

 

 

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