We know all families are a little bit dysfunctional, some more than others. Your family might not have a skeleton in the closet, but there’s always that creepy uncle in every clan who drinks too much and that no one ever mentions except in whispered tones. (If you can’t think of an uncle like that in your family, maybe that uncle is you.) Siblings fight, parents and their children terrorize each other, and, at the very least, families sometimes just agree to disagree.
But no matter how messed up your kin is, rest assured that the family in director Jim Hosking’s horror-comedy The Greasy Strangler will make yours look like a special edition of Full House.
The story goes like this: Brayden (Sky Elobar) is a balding, inexperienced, socially-backward, middle-aged man living with his domineering father, known to all as Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels), a bullshit artist/smoothie who gives bogus disco walking tours around town (“This is where Kool met the Gang.”) and craves hazardous amounts of grease on his food. Ronnie has a dark secret that we learn early on because he’s not really trying to hide it: He’s the Greasy Strangler, the slimy, lard-covered, sex-crazed septuagenarian who goes around killing people every time he loses his temper, which is pretty much every night. (Great Halloween costume idea, btw.)
Enter Janet, the flirty love interest with a surprisingly soothing voice (nicely played by Eastbound & Down’s Elizabeth De Razzo), whom Brayden falls for. It’s not long before things get complicated between the trio. This is probably a good time to mention that all throughout the movie the audience is hit with fart jokes, gruesome yet hilarious killings, and awkward, test-your-patience moments similar to the style of Andy Kaufman’s annoying Tony Clifton character.
There’s also copious nudity involving people you most likely wouldn’t want to see naked—so much so that Big Ronnie appears nude or in his underwear more than he does with his clothes on, and we, the poor audience, are left to discover Ron’s massive, scary member (and his son’s micro penis). It’s that kind of movie.
Hosking knows how to push buttons and get laughs from a risky style of absurd comedy that has him stretching a few gags to the brink. But there are also more straight laughs in the stories Ronnie tells, like the one night he partied with Michael Jackson (R.I.P.) and ended up in a mini-orgy shooting hot milky cum. That last bit of info might seem totally unnecessary, except it’s not—that’s Big Ronnie and the movie in a nutshell, so to speak. A loud, crude, make-you-uncomfortable entity that’ll delight you with its no-holds-barred craziness or turn you off completely. In this strange comic-book world where everybody is a weirdo and something gross and shocking lurks around every corner, only those with a demented sense of humor are welcome. Those that stick around will probably dig Andrew Hung’s trippy music score that is reminiscent of Halloween III: Season of the Witch’s Silver Shamrock TV commercials.
As a midnight movie, The Greasy Strangler satisfies all the criteria for a good time, and is recommended to dedicated cult film fans, especially around Halloween. Everybody else, be warned. Not everybody will like it, but peculiarly enough, it manages at the end to pull off an almost sentimental bonding between father and son, certainly not what you would expect after all the base humor. Somehow, someway, The Greasy Strangler takes the concept of family values, turns it on its head, then pulls it out of its rectum, all with a big shit-eating grin.