It is with a full heart and clear conscience that the following be stated: there will not be a stranger, grosser, oilier movie screening at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. The latest release from producers Elijah Wood, Daniel Noah and Josh C. Waller's horror-centric production company SpectreVision, "The Greasy Strangler" is an acquired taste with a mighty limited audience, but for those who are drawn to and admire the weird, the nauseating and the unstoppably absurdist, this just might be the 21st century's cult film to end all cult films. Debuting feature director Jim Hosking (who previously contributed the "G for Grandad" segment in 2014's "ABCs of Death 2
") is either a raving lunatic, a mad genius, or most likely a bit of both.
Pointy-penised "bullshit artist" Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and virginal middle-aged son Brayden (Sky Elobar) are Los Angelenos living on the margins of society. The hosts of a disco walking tour, they guide customers to random holes in the wall where The Bee Gees supposedly wrote their hits and a shoddy convenience store where Kool (of Kool and the Gang) allegedly worked as a teen. On one such tour, Brayden falls head over heels for the sultry Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) whoshock of all shocksinitiates an unsubtle flirtation. They go out on a date, then go to bed, but what could be the start of a beautiful romance threatens to turn rancid when a jealous Big Ronnie unapologetically seduces Janet and steals her away. Since father and son live under the same roof, things are about to get mighty uncomfortable. Were that not enough, the grease-obsessed Ronnie moonlights as serial killer The Greasy Strangler, dunking his nude body in a vat of coagulated grease and prowling the neighborhood for victims to slaughter. When Brayden suspects his dad of the crimes, he vows to find the evidence necessary to expose his slick and murderous deeds once and for all.
If 2004's "Napoleon Dynamite
" gave birth to a homicidal maniac with a wardrobe consisting of skimpy disco attire and yellow g-strings, it would look a lot like "The Greasy Strangler." Writer-director Jim Hosking and co-scribe Toby Harvard prove to be masters of the ridiculous, frying up a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience so insanely unique it's kind of fantastic. Part B-movie spoof, part gory slasherama, the film shocks, appalls, and will leave a quadrant of the audience in outright stitches. With the improvisational, go-for-broke performances of Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar and Elizabeth De Razzo on his side, Hosking is an ace comedic craftsman, setting up, landing and sustaining jokes of every variety. Big Ronnie's insistence on slathering grease and olive oil over everything he puts in his mouth (he tells a chili cheese dog vendor he needs enough grease to lubricate the world) is disgustingly irreverent, while physical humor, sight gags, arcanely sly dialogue exchanges, and preposterously kooky situations (one victim gives play-by-play commentary during his own merciless strangulation) lead the charge. Complementing every scene in an incalculable way is one of the most pronounced and inspired music scores and soundtracks in recent memory, an instantly catchy, appropriately playful lo-fi orgy of electronic synth compositions from Fuck Buttons band member Andrew Hung. Once you see "The Greasy Strangler," you will never, ever be able to unsee it. For the strong of stomach and adventurous lovers of the original and bizarre, this graphically gonzo, oddly heartfelt father-son saga is a gift from the midnight-movie heavens.