Like Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer reimagined by Tim and Eric, or George A. Romero’s under-appreciated vampire opus Martin remade under the direction of Napoleon Dynamite‘s Jared Hess, The Greasy Strangler takes the very real and frightening idea of the “murderous psychopath next door” (both explored and subverted brilliantly in the recent, great I Am Not A Serial Killer) and slathers on enough grease (literally) to make 70’s era John Waters second guess himself.
Maybe too much grease? Literally and figuratively? A cringe/gross out comedy take on this type of material might not have been a bad idea initially but The Greasy Strangler piles on so many disparate, ridiculous ideas that it ultimately results in a sort of “kitchen sink” approach that leaves the audience simply bewildered and bored rather than shocked or offended.
There’s the germ of something possibly great here. The story of a young adult, verbally derided into antisocial submission by an abusive father who just happens to be a serial killer, has legs. Add in the idea of the sexually inexperienced son’s initially kindhearted first girlfriend being stolen by his aging lothario of a father, and you have the makings of an excellently cruel 70’s style revenge/exploitation flick.
Unfortunately The Greasy Strangler isn’t interested in exploring any of the real world ramifications of “Big Brayden’s” nightmarish existence, instead focusing on disgusting sexual humor and visuals, and (admittedly kind of funny) asides about father “Big Ronnie’s” former life as a famous disco nightclub owner.
There’s potential in the world these characters inhabit too, sort of a neon 90’s K-Mart version of Eraserhead‘s desolate industrial hellscape (Napoleon Dynamite, and Hess’ recent Masterminds again come to mind), but by the time the plot completely descends into surrealistic nonsense at the end, I was even more grossed out by that wasted potential than the multiple scenes of grease eating or the endless parade of grotesque fake genitals on display.
They sure don’t make ’em like this anymore. But maybe there’s a reason for that.
The Greasy Strangler is now available on VOD.