Director: Jim Hosking
Cast: Michael St. Michaels, Sky Elobar, Elizabeth De Razzo
Spoilers Within: No
Overstepping logic and coherence with a bizarre philosophy on weirdness, Jim Hosking’s first feature is a bafflingly endearing and acutely absurd amalgam of an unconventional love triangle, serial killer thriller, and one man’s infatuation with emulsified lubricants.
Resting somewhere between the gloopy deviance of Lloyd Kaufman’s Tromaverse and Tim & Eric’s deranged lo-fi universe of surreal Z-List characters, The Greasy Strangler is deliberately quirky from the start with increasing levels of visual profanity. Hosking accomplishes his pursuit of shock and repulsion, though he doesn’t quite succeed in being as provocative or inflammatory as some of its predecessors (neither as objectionable as A Serbian Film nor as revolting as Pink Flamingos) but it admirably asserts a unique claim in the recent (though thankfully abating) resurgence of filthy grindhouse features while it can.
Depending on your disposition toward uncomfortable silences and repetitious absurdity, The Greasy Strangler can be uproariously funny when reveling in full frontal prosthetics, oily gore, and illustrative indecency, and even more surprisingly, it’s pretty well made. Mårten Tedin’s camera work betrays the ugliness of the gooey visuals with an unforeseen crispness, while Andrew Hung’s playfully off-kilter soundtrack appropriately compliments the insanity unfolding before your eyes. Sonically, it’s perfect: Hung’s chiptune drones provide a bed to a dissonance of squelching, slobbering and regurgitating, furthering the repugnance in the visible fusion of blood and grease.
It’s disgusting, puerile, and frequently obnoxious (all purposeful) but The Greasy Strangler isn’t something one can wholeheartedly recommend even to fans of the outlandish sub genre in which this falls. Its propensity to mangle even the most conventional of moments into something quirky runs out of steam a third of the way in, and the lack of any narrative highway or fully constructed characters can become wearisome. Additionally, if you’re not prone to the sheer discomfort of cringe luminaries such as Larry David, Andy Kaufman or Gregg Turkington (whose Neil Hamburger persona is an exercise in comedic provocation) then extended scenes of repetitive, coarse punchlines or the farcical awkwardness of the ordinary might turn you off way before the peculiar resolve.