The Grime Reaper


The Citizen Kane of questionable taste psychotronic grindhouse fare, Jim Hosking’s 2016 award-winning instant cult favorite THE GREASY STRANGLER comes to Blu-Ray, courtesy of the mountebanks at MVD, in cahoots with Drafthouse Films/Madman Entertainment/Rook Films/FilmRinse/SpectraVision/Timpson Films.

Where and how does one even begin to describe THE GREASY STRANGLER?  The short version is John Waters meets Peter Jackson (from Dead Alive) meets Paul Bartel meets the Maysles Brothers and the Soska Sisters; it also concurrently manages to pay homage to Roger Corman (the FilmGroup years) and Federico Fellini! The movie, immaculately detailed to emulate the sleaziest Times Square double and triple bills of the 1970s, superbly achieves a look and sound that gloriously recalls those bygone days of  Crown-International.  It’s one of those Producers “where did we go right?” efforts that absolutely choses the wrong road for every option.  Except, in this case, it’s intentional, and often hilarious.  A WARNING though, GREASY is designed to gross you out, and succeeds on every hurl-shellacked ladder rung.

The narrative is actually two stories that collide like car of coked-up female impersonators into a 7/11.  Big Ronnie and Big Brayden, a father and son combo whose very presence is the best argument for condoms ever, run a sham tour service on Skid Row.  They clip foreign rock ‘n’ roll fans by walking them through the slums and making up outrageous stories about music icons.  When questioned by knowledgeable buffs from India, Nigeria, Germany, or where ever, the pair respond with a barrage of verbal epithets and threats of violence.

Ronnie and Brayden, donned in hot pink shorts and stained tees, live together.  Fortyish Brayden yearns for a better life, but nasty pop Ronnie tells the loser that he’s sorta like the lyrics about Kansas City Burl-E-Q in Oklahoma – that he’s gone about as far as he can go.  Ronnie’s revolting persona stems from his trifecta superiority complex, that he’s the best father, the best businessman and the best lover planet Earth has to offer.  The latter is often revealed by his displaying his formidable genitalia – a prosthetic device that shames Dirk Diggler’s in Boogie Nights.  There’s more than just lip to Ronnie’s braggadocio – which brings us to the second story in this epic.  The nabe is being plagued by a series of gruesome murders, the work of the media-dubbed Greasy Strangler.  No mystery here; Ronnie proudly hints he’s the culprit (which he is), but everyone is either too dumb or too fed up with the slob to believe him.  Further proof is that the disco-loving senior citizen lives on grease, not the play, but the oiliest of foods and sauces; he’ll only digest vittles swimming in grotesque puddles of the stuff.  And it causes his body to shape-shift on certain nights, transforming him into one of those Outer Limits-looking muthafuckas that prey on his aforementioned tourist trade, ridding the hood of immigrant visitors obsessed with Barry Manilow.   Only a total dawn hose-down at his blind friend’s car wash removes all traces of the slimy substance, returning Ronnie to his original slimy substance.

This existence is pretty much the norm until, as a goof, stoned local denizen Janet decides to take the tour.  She soon becomes Brayden’s first real girlfriend, a sad state (or mate) of affairs when Daddy steals her away from him.  This leads to a rather ultra-shock…climax and snarky conclusion.

THE GREASY STRANGLER is certainly a picture that takes a dare to the nth degree.  It’s become an international midnight movie phenomenon, thus, this special edition Blu-Ray rendition has caused eclectic collectors to rejoice (if not regurgitate) with glee.  Director Hosking pushes all the politically-incorrect buttons correctly, resulting in a WTF, OMG, SMH over-the-top extravaganza not seen since Divine scarfed a doggie Tootsie Roll.  The dialog in Hosking’s and cowriter Toby Harvard’s script purposely apes the kind of movies indie TV stations used to run at 3AM; ditto the authentically bad Seventies exploitation photography (Marten Tedin) and perfect inappropriate score (Andrew Hung).  The dialog contains some pips, most prominently Big Ronnie’s can’t fail female pickup line, “You’re a hootie-tootie disco cutie,” as well as his command to sex partner Janet, “Kiss my juicy cherry lips!”

Of course, none of this schlock would be effective without a game cast, and the three leads do service to every movie that ever played bottom-of-the-bill.  As the monstrous papa, Michael St. Michaels comes across like a Satanic Spalding Grey, while Sky Elobar’s Brayden is the kind of role Seth Rogan could only hope for (but would still probably never accept).  The real surprise is comedienne Elizabeth De Razzo as Janet; she’s concurrently erotic and revolting.

The MVD Blu-Ray doesn’t disappoint, looking way better than it has a right to; still, it remains a celebratory nod to the sleazier aspects of motion-picture-making.  Extras include audio commentary with director Hosking and costars St. Michaels and Elobar, interviews with the cast and crew, and the trailer.

Definitely not a picture for everyone, THE GREASY STRANGLER is nevertheless a movie viewers won’t forget.  That said, it may cause you to never want to eat or have sex again.

THE GREASY STRANGLER.  Color.  Widescreen [1.85:1; 1080p High Definition]; 5.1 or 2.0 DTS-HD MA surround.  MVD/ Drafthouse Films/Madman Entertainment/Rook Films/FilmRinse/SpectraVision/Timson Films. CAT # MVD2032BR.  SRP: $24.95.




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