The Greasy Strangler is an endurance test designed to see just how much critics and fans of the truly bizarre will sit through before deciding there may indeed be limits to what can be considered art. At least, that is the only reasonable explanation for such a film—if we must call it that—existing that I have been able to come up with in the time since my initial screening. I should probably just say my only screening because I cannot imagine a world where I willingly watch this cinematic exhibition of scatological humor ever again.
Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and Brayden (Sky Elobar) are a father and son duo who spend their days running a disco walking tour in their hometown. It’s somehow even less glamourous than it sounds, with most historic locations being little more than abandoned lots or innocuous doorways, but things begin to change for both men when a woman named Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) enters their lives. Her presence in their lives leads to a rivalry between father and son, as well as the emergence of a grease-covered maniac who strangles innocent people at night and cleans himself in a drive-thru car wash. I know this sounds bizarre and weird in all the ways fans of b-movies typically enjoy, but trust me: This is not your average midnight movie.
To describe the relationship between Ronnie and Brayden as strained would be an understatement. Ronnie is a cranky old man who only eats food that is coated in a thick, slimy helping of grease, and he constantly verbally assaults Brayden with takedowns of everything from his appearance and personality, to his cooking, love life, penis size, and—believe it or not—how much he ejaculates. Not how often, mind you, but how much. I’ll leave you to fill in the rest.
Brayden, on the other hand, does his best to avoid letting his father’s insults get him down. He loves his father, and Brayden constantly changes his behavior to play into his dad’s demands. The one place he draws the line is when his father begins discussing Janet, who Brayden believed himself to be in love with, but despite his best efforts to convince her she is the best man in the house Janet cannot help being swooned by Ronnie and his brash personality.
You may be wondering who could possibly love either of these men, but to understand who Janet is you really have to see the fiercely dedicated performance delivered by Elizabeth De Razzo. She appears shy at first, but as Janet is introduced to the ruthlessly vulgar world of Ronnie and Brayden she herself becomes increasingly unhinged. She showers Brayden with affection after seeing his micro-penis (which we see as well), and she lusts after Ronnie just moments after he explains how he climaxes in extensive detail. She also hangs around the house Ronnie and Brayden share fully nude, even after she has moved from one lover to the next.
The world of The Greasy Strangler is one where the only thing off limits is good taste. Dick jokes, unappealing nudity, and scatological humor take the place of an actual plot, though the strangler is indeed real. Murders come and go with less mystery than your average episode of Scooby-Doo, and the fallout from each crime is practically non-existent. It’s as if the film has no other priorities than making as many people as possible feel for bad for having wasted 90 minutes of their precious time on this Earth experiencing this film.
To its credit, however—and I need to make it clear that giving credit in instances such as this is never easy—The Greasy Strangler does succeed in creating a wholly unique vision of a world that resembles our own just enough to feel tactile. I pray to whatever deity is out there that people like Ronnie and Brayden are not walking this planet right now, but the film establishes its universe so thoroughly that one has to imagine the inspiration behind these characters does stem from some real-life experiences. Either that, or writers Toby Harvard and Jim Hosking are the two most twisted minds in film today.
I cannot think of a single person whose life would benefit from watching The Greasy Strangler, but I know that isn’t going to stop people from seeking it out. If this review reads like a recommendation to do so that is my fault and I apologize. I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone because I have never met a person that would enjoy this movie. In a world where it seems everything is created with someone or some group in mind—often because that is how you make things people actually want—The Greasy Strangler appears to exist solely to remind us there are no limits to what can be done in the world of film. That’s usually a good thing, but in this case I’m starting to think otherwise.
I have never seen another film like The Greasy Strangler, and I hope I never see another one like it ever again.