‘The Greasy Strangler’: Bad Movies Deserve Love Too


(Courtesy of FilmRise)

By Zach Anderson, Arts Writer


This past weekend, I ignored the dread of my upcoming midterms by watching an old favorite of mine, “The Greasy Strangler.” We follow father Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and his son Big Brayden (Sky Elobar), who compete for the heart of disco-tourist Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo). However, by nightfall, Big Ronnie douses himself in grease from head to toe and strangles strangers on the streets.

Sounds simple enough on paper, but in execution, it is far more repulsive and shocking than you could ever imagine. Every frame of “The Greasy Strangler” is an uncomfortable masterpiece not dissimilar to something you’d find on Adult Swim at 3 A.M. or in a dank corner of the dark web. “The Greasy Strangler” is horrendous, but that’s the whole point. This movie knows what it is, and those that dare to watch may also find hilarity in its grotesque visage.

A Movie to Remember

The first time I saw this movie was when I was vacationing with friends in San Diego. We had only heard of the title thanks to one of my friends, who suggested that we should watch it. So, all of us went in blind. That was simultaneously the best and most terrible decision we could’ve made. It wasn’t what we initially expected from a Sundance Film Festival pick produced by Elijah Wood, but “The Greasy Strangler” is unique in its presentation.

The film has a singular, off-putting vibe that makes you feel like you aren’t watching humans interact with one another, but aliens emulating human interaction. The dialogue itself is rife with endlessly quotable lines and catchphrases that can admittedly get tiresome. Still, the dialogue fits perfectly with the dingy feel of the narrative, the characters and most significantly, the setting.

As you’d expect from a movie titled “The Greasy Strangler,” everything onscreen feels like it’s covered in a layer of irremovable grime. From Big Ronnie’s kitchen to the streets that Big Brayden and Big Ronnie wander for their failing disco-tour business, it’s apparent the filmmakers were attempting to make everything the exact opposite of appealing. Director Jim Hosking weaponizes discomfort in a way that makes you squirm and laugh at the same time.

An Odd Recommendation

I’m as surprised as the next person that I wasn’t scared off by the repulsiveness of “The Greasy Strangler” like the rest of my friends. What did I see in this movie that others didn’t? Am I just a freak that likes unentertaining things or being grossed out? Perhaps, but “The Greasy Strangler” and many other bad movies give their viewers something that no good movie can. 

Much like good movies, each bad movie is on a continuum of experiences. Some make us laugh, some cry, some a combination of the two. Only the great ones give us something we’ve never seen before. Is “The Greasy Strangler” one of those movies? Absolutely not, but I don’t think it could ever be replicated.

If you’re drunk with a group of friends on a Saturday night, you might just want to get on the greasy.


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