The Greasy Strangler: Special Director’s Edition
Directed by: Jim Hosking
Run time: 93 minutes
The Lowdown: Napoleon Dynamite and vintage 42nd Street grindhouse sleaze collide in the profane, often stomach-churning and utterly, fucking hilarious cult classic, The Greasy Strangler.
Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and his son, Big Brayden (Sky Elobar), live in their underwear. They operate a Walking Tour of Disco History, which is essentially a scam. And they spend much of each day shouting at each other, “You’re a bullshit artist.”
But Ronnie has a secret. He’s the notorious Greasy Strangler that’s been terrorizing the community.
I will be the first to readily admit that The Greasy Strangler is not a film for everyone. It’s juvenile, over-the-top and regularly offensive. But, unlike other, similar ‘kitchen sink’ style comedies from the 1980’s (Night Patrol, anyone?), writer-director Jim Hosking somehow manages to sustain a level of narrative cohesion even as his wildest ambitions run amok.
And that’s not all. The Greasy Strangler is, in fact, a horror movie, and the handful of kills sprinkled throughout showcase a staggering range of practical effects steeped in glorious gore.
Hosking finds his groove early on, gliding seamlessly from high camp to trailer-park shenanigans without missing a beat. At certain points, The Greasy Strangler transcends the traditional confines of normal cinema to achieve a level of perversion rarely seen. It’s so weird, so awkward, so unabashedly unique that you can’t take your eyes off the screen.
Imagine if Jim Jarmusch, Alejandro Jodorowsky and Andy Kaufman formed a creative collective and conspired to make the most batshit crazy movie possible, and that still would not come close to the maniacal majesty that is The Greasy Strangler.
This one is a must-watch, must-see.
The Stuff You Care About:
Hot chicks – Yes.
Nudity – Gratuitous.
Gore – Yes.
Drug use – No.
Bad Guys/Killers – Um, did you read the title?
Buy/Rent – Buy it.
The Vault (FilmRise, 91 minutes, Unrated, Blu-Ray): Dan Bush burst onto the genre scene in 2007 with The Signal, a jaw-dropping blast of apocalyptic bravado that he co-wrote and co-directed.
Nothing he has done since has come close to matching his debut’s verve, but The Vault held serious potential, if only because of its fantastic premise.
A group of would-be bandits targets an old bank that happens to have a dark history from a previous robbery-gone-bad massacre decades earlier. There’s an ominous vault nestled down in the basement. And a surprisingly helpful employee (James Franco), who looks and acts like an anachronism.
If only Bush’s haunted heist ambitions had translated as well to the screen.
The Vault doesn’t know what to do with its ghost story or its ghosts, and too much time is wasted on unnecessary exposition instead of scaring up some actual frights.
Aquaman (Warner Bros., 143 minutes, PG-13, 4K Ultra-HD): I’ve said it before, and I will keep banging the drum until DC Comics listens, but the main competitor to Marvel Studios just can’t make a good movie from beginning to end.
Auquaman, more so than any other DC hero, was perfectly poised to be the breakout star, DC’s equivalent of the MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy, a rollicking adventure in a new environment (the ocean) that didn’t take itself too seriously and veered off on crazy tangents at every opportunity.
Instead, what we got was two-and-a-half hours of a mostly shirtless Jason Momoa hamming it up and pretending to be Indiana Jones, jumping out of planes and fighting on land instead of surfing on the back of a dolphin and doing cool water gimmicks.
Anything would have been better than this overlong mess of a capsized vessel.
Warning Sign (Shout! Factory, 99 minutes, R, Blu-Ray): Kudos to Shout! Factory for giving new life to Warning Sign, a straight-forward environmental thriller from 1985 that still feels eerily relevant today.
Warning Sign, the lone feature ever directed by Hal Barwood (he wrote Corvette Summer and Dragonslayer), is a breakneck thrill ride that comes packed with a social-ecological message that isn’t delivered with blunt force to your head.
Plus, Yaphet Kotto is on-hand to show why he was the epitome of Samuel L. Jackson mother-effing cool in the 1980’s, long before Jackson ever appeared on anybody’s radar.
This is a great, forgotten title that you should seek out.
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