The Greasy Strangler (2016)

the-greasy-stranglerGiven its abundance of slopping, oozing food stuffs, it’s fitting that The Greasy Strangler is such an acquired taste. Revelling in the revolting, its tale of an LA-based serial killer is about as button-pushing as gross-out flicks get, presenting a gallery of grotesqueries that would have Roald Dahl cackling with delight. Introducing us to pink-turtleneck-wearing father and son Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michael) and Big Brayden (Sky Ebolar), we watch them traipse decaying alleyways and forgotten side streets as they lead a walking disco tour, dispensing spurious trivia nibs alongside a torrent of quotable insults (“I call bullshit on that!”).

It’s never in question that this duo is odd to the extreme. A sort of grungy Laurel and Hardy, they’re funniest as a pair, but things kick up a notch when Big Ronnie is revealed as the titular ne’er-do-well, his love of icky food taken to an extreme when, naked, he slathers himself in grease and busts out into the night, killing anybody who crosses his path. Here, first-time director Jim Hosking lets loose with a series of Looney Tunes-esque killings that see eyeballs spurting out of skulls and various body parts gleefully hacked from torsos.

If the gore’s cartoonishly thrilling, though, it’s the gags that really (death) grip. Hosking grew up watching Monty Python and The Young Ones, and that anarchic spirit fizzes here, from the nonsense jokes (entire scenes revolve around repeated lines slung back and forth like grenades) to the wickedly mean interplay between Big Ronnie and Big Brayden. Michael St. Michael deserves special mention for a performance so uninhibited the word now needs a new definition, while the duo’s love interest Janet (played by Elizabeth deRazzo) more than holds her own.

At its best, The Greasy Strangler is a horror movie version of a John Waters flick, though there are echoes of everything from Steptoe And Son to Dumb And Dumber. Many will balk at its joyously backwards mentality, but for the midnight crowd, this is gory catnip in its purest form. Unapologetically barmy and destined for cultdom, it’s, quite simply, full throttle entertainment.

This review originally appeared in Horrorville Issue #2.

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