Monday, 24 October 2016

THE GREASY STRANGLER review

Perhaps the craziest and most disgusting film we will see in our lifetime, The Greasy Strangler is now out on DVD and blu-ray.


I, err, well, err, what?

If you had asked me for an immediate reaction after first seeing The Greasy Strangler, that may have been all I was able to put together. Part of the line up at this year's Sundance London Film Festival, The Greasy Strangler has to be the most insane film released in cinemas this year. We are introduced to Big Brayden, a lank-haired oddball who lives with his father Big Ronnie. Together they operate con artist tours of the local disco hotspots, pointing out the street corners where some of the greatest hits of the seventies were supposedly created. It's on one of these tours that Brayden meets Janet, a local girl he starts a romantic relationship with, causing Big Ronnie's jealousy get the better of him and the return of a murderer who goes by the name of The Greasy Strangler.

It's no spoiler to say that Big Ronnie is the aforementioned strangler, attacking his victims in bloodthirsty, animalistic fashion, all while covered head to toe in a thick layer of grease. Ronnie then covers his tracks by putting himself through the car wash ran by his blind friend Big Paul, before hitting the town in his crotchless disco get up to dance the night away. Yes, that actually is the plot of a movie that you could be watching right now, but instead you're reading this. Thanks for the hits, but you really need to sort your priorities out.

Big Ronnie (played by the exquisitely named Michael St Michaels) is the cinematic villain of the year. A deliciously greasy bastard who is fuelled by hate and hotdogs, his thinly veiled contempt and outright hostility towards his son is something to behold. Choosing to blame his son for his wife leaving him for a man named Ricky Prickles, whenever his rage hits a certain level he feels the need to murder again, covering himself in a thick layer of grease before he does so. St Michaels has a fantastically condescending voice, spouting puerile and grotesque one-liners designed to keep his son right where he wants him; in the kitchen cooking the most disgusting and greasy food you will ever see.

Brayden (Sky Elobar) is a sweet idiot man-child held back by his domineering father his whole life, only choosing to stand up for himself and try to expose his father as the strangler when he fears that he's next on the list of victims. Their relationship is Steptoe and Son re-imagined through the eyes of The League of Gentlemen, a fucked up family portrait with genuinely appalling characters at its heart. Janet, the "hootie tootie disco cutie" that gets between this family unit is for all intents and purposes the femme fatale of the film, and despite an unglamourous approach to nudity that revels in the unconventional, there is an underlying sweetness to her and Brayden's romance that will almost make you forget what this film is actually about. Not for long, obviously.

Produced by Ben Wheatley's Rook Films and released by Elijah Wood's SpectreVision production company, this is literally the most invasive movie I've ever seen, and I mean that as a positive. This film doesn't just get under your skin, it gets all over it like a thick layer of... well, you get the analogy. There's so many things in The Greasy Strangler that should make you want to gouge your eyes out, but instead, it draws you in and forces you to love it. I was fortunate enough to catch The Greasy Strangler at this year's Sundance London Film Festival (where they bring the most revered and buzzed about films over from Utah), and although at first I wasn't completely sure that I even liked it, I found myself thinking about it on an almost daily basis and wanting to recommend it to everyone I know, to the point where I realised that yeah, I actually really like its batshitcraziness.

I suppose if you pour enough grease into your eyes and ears it's going to seep into your brain, and that's the effect I want from a midnight movie. This film is destined for word of mouth infamy, and with its infectious electronic soundtrack, disgusting behaviour and the strangest way of pronouncing potato you will ever hear, this is genuinely subversive in a way you can't call bullshit on. Unquestionably hideous at times, love it or hate it there's no doubt that The Greasy Strangler is that rarest of things; a completely unique cinematic experience.

Verdict
4/5

DVD extras include a commentary from the director and stars.

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