I really wanted to like The Greasy Strangler. Every minute that went by yielded another element I tried to desperately hold onto, but by the end I was left with a feature that had no motivation other than to be a midnight movie.
Jim Hosking’s The Greasy Strangler follows Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and Big Brayden (Sky Elobar) as they fight for the affection of Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo), a woman they meet on the walking disco tour they host. As the love triangle intensifies, Big Ronnie badly conceals his secret identity of The Greasy Strangler, a grease-slathered serial killer picking off locals.
The cast is top notch—from the three leads to minor characters like Brayden’s best friend, Oinker (Joe David Walters), to the blind car wash owner, Big Paul (Gil Gex)—and push the material they’re given to it’s full potential. Throughout the movie we’re given glimpses of what could have been, from Big Ronnie’s alter-alter-ego, Detective Jody, to the final five minutes of carnage.
There wasn’t a quiet moment in the theater during the first third of The Greasy Strangler, which is the most disappointing aspect: it starts off so strong. The comedy that ends up as insufferable is initially hysterical; from the overuse of the same edit, to the prosthetic penises, or the father/son catchphrase: “Bullshit Artist.” Intercut with Big Ronnie naked and screaming while walking through a car wash and an increasingly uncomfortable synth score, I was in love.
As the love story takes up more time, it becomes evident there wasn’t much story to begin with, along with the anti-climactic attempt at a resolution which marked the point of me letting go completely.
Throughout The Greasy Strangler, I kept thinking of movies that pulled this off better, like The Taint (a 75-minute cavalcade of one-liners and exploding dicks), where despite being an absurdist, offensive, and of-the-wall exploitation movie, manages to have a point other than to shock, but above all is immensely entertaining.
Often compared to George Kuchar or early John Waters, The Greasy Strangler lacks the motivation. If you’re still intrigued I would recommend skipping the midnight circuit and waiting for VOD or rental. As I said, I really wanted to like it — maybe Jim Hosking’s second feature will fill the cracks.