THE GREASY STRANGLER
Almost certainly the universal reaction to The Greasy Strangler is likely to be WHAT THE $%@^* AM I WATCHING? It is a film so unclassifiable, so eccentrically located inside its own universe and so far removed from the sensibilities of your average film that it has instant cult classic and midnight favourite written all over it from the moment it opens.
The characters have a weirdness that hails in from another planet. Case in point being father and son Michael St Michaels and Sky Elobar who run a disco tour of the city while dressed in a matching set of blinding pink tops and shorts. Or else St Michaels who goes out disco dancing in an outfit that looks as though it was sewn from grandmas curtains with a transparent crotch that leaves his dick visible. The characters are deliberately portrayed with a less than glamorous physicality that we usually dont get to see in movies. In the opening scenes alone we see Sky Elobar as a middle-aging man with a potbelly walking about in his underwear and perhaps the worst combover ever seen up on screen as Michael St Michaels (an actor in his seventies) wilfully flashes his butt to Elobar. Both men are frequently seen naked St Michaels with a giant prosthetic dick that nearly comes down to his knees, Elobar with a tiny one about the size of the first joint on your finger (where he is even seen engaged in phone sex at one point). Equally, Elizabeth De Rasso spends a reasonable percentage of her scenes naked but is also a plus-size woman, something you rarely see in nude scenes.
The Greasy Strangler has such a sense of bizarreness that it surpasses any easy critical handholds you can throw at to label or compare it. Much of the film takes place in the surreal banality you get in the works of directors like David Lynch or Jim Jarmusch but twisted to a bizarrely over-the-top level. Many scenes have two or more actors engaged in repeatedly shouting the same lines back at each other Bullshit artist, Hootie tootie disco cutie, no free drinks or asking a tourist from India what the chips are made of. Michael St Michaels seem obsessed with eating grease on everything, including spreading it on toast, grapefruit and in the opening scenes contemplating the idea of having grease in his coffee. The film also has a unique, cartoonishly simplistic score that becomes undeniably catchy. You may come out of this film with your sense of reality somewhat more damaged than when you went into it.
(Screening Courtesy of the Rio Grind Festival)