Is The Greasy Strangler a horror movie? Not really. Nor is it quite like anything else I’ve ever reviewed for 31 Days of Gore.
It’s worth noting it was produced by Elijah Wood, who’s pretty hardcore about horror. He’s gone so far as to appear in a (probably unnecessary) remake of Maniac, which I’ve yet to see, but any actor who’s into this kind of shit is cool in my book.
So Brayden and his father, Big Ronnie, live together in a rundown home and work as terrible tour guides. Ronnie, who was a disco king before he knocked up Brayden’s mother, just points at locations around town, telling his customers that’s where a famous band came up with an idea for a song. When one of his customers insists the brochure promised free drinks, Ronnie becomes irate. Later he’ll slather grease all over himself, strangle the tourist until his eyes pop out of his skull, then walk through a car wash to clean up.
Brayden’s not the smartest guy in the world. He knows the Greasy Strangler is killing people in and around his neighborhood, and he knows his father has an unusual love for greasy foods, but he just can’t put two and two together. Worse, when he meets his first ever girlfriend (Elizabeth De Razzo), Big Ronnie moves in on her and threatens to evict Brayden if he tries to get in his way.
Every aspect of The Greasy Strangler is lovingly crafted to annoy. The acting is intentionally bad. The language is abrasive in the biggest way possible. Quiet scenes are sandwiched in between blaring electronic music while the fearless actors are nude more often than not. The editing is so offbeat that a lingering shot can rub you the wrong way, like a sneeze that just won’t come out. This is a movie for people who enjoy crunching on the ice that’s left over after finishing a beverage, and secretly savoring the way it can drive loved ones up the wall.
My favorite thing about The Greasy Strangler was the reaction to the trailer in the YouTube comments: equal parts bewilderment and outrage. If you’re a John Waters fan, you’ll probably love it. Otherwise, avoid it at all costs. It’s like watching a screen adaptation of a 4chan green text.
The movie almost tries too hard to like it, but I laughed a lot—sometimes uncontrollably—and never felt bored. Confused, sure, but never bored. Hollywood should take note: dick and fart jokes aren’t automatically funny. They work a lot better when your characters (and actors) are as disgusting and depraved as this. One of the oddest jokes of the movie involves a detective by the name of Jody. It’s a what-the-fuck moment that stands out in a movie full of what-the-fuckery. Then, shortly before the end, the movie tops itself by what-the-fucking in the grandest way possible. You get the feeling the writers were trying their hardest to blow the other’s mind and they didn’t really give a shit if anybody else got it.
Giving this film a gore rating is misleading, but the gore’s there, in a Pee-Wee’s Playhouse kind of way, and it’s as fantastic as it is stupid.