There are those rare films you can watch again and again, mining their depths for more rich veins of meaning. And then there’s The Greasy Strangler, which seems to collapse time itself into a black nothingness, a purposeless void through which you drift like a cord-cut astronaut, waiting to run out of air and just be done with it already.
The title’s one that an acid-tripping wanna-be Mickey Spillane would conjure up; the movie’s one where lines aren’t spoken so much as read, or repeated, or aired out like dirty laundry (potty-talk, the phrase “bullshit artist,” and penis-shots are particularly popular, for no reason). The plot is more like a quickly wilting effort to daisy-chain some Todd-Solondz-meets-John-Waters moments together; scenes stretch out like moldy taffy. Cranky Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels), berating his schlub of a son, Big Brayden (Sky Elobar), when they’re not leading disco tours of LA, is an all-greased-up serial-killer after sunset. Otherwise, he farts at his son come morning, demands more dollops of grease on his sausages or popcorn, or chats with the blind man operating the car wash where he rinses off after his nocturnal, lard-caked-maniac murders. And let’s not forget Oinker, a nerd with a pig snout, or the score, the electronica-equivalent of chalkboard-scratching.
Big Brayden describes his puke to his date, Janet; Mr. Oiled-Up Throttler fries up and eats the popped-out eyeballs of one victim; Ronnie watches Janet pee while he brushes his teeth. Unctuously pervy and lip-smackingly leering, this movie about a silver-haired, coprophiliac, louche lothario who’s a Swamp Thing-like killer by moonlight aspires to be freaky-kooky but remains sleepy-yawny. Perhaps it’s trying to carve out some micro-niche between scuzzy Americana and low-rent comedy-horror-porn. But then it would have to be compellingly bizarro or funny in any way. Instead the script—e.g., Indian tourist says an incomprehensible word, over and over, to a Senegalese tourist and a Scandinavian tourist in front of a motel vending-machine—feels like some shaggy-dog joke devised by the director and some pals after scarfing down magic mushrooms. The Greasy Strangler needs to be seen on the smallest screen possible, with the sound off.