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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Greasy Strangler - Special Director’s Edition (Blu-ray)
The Greasy Strangler - Special Director’s Edition (Blu-ray)
FilmRise // Unrated // December 2, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted March 28, 2019 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

An older man named Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) lives in a rundown home with his middle-aged son Brayden (Sky Elobar). Ronnie makes a living offering horribly managed ‘disco tours' where he shows gullible tourists bogus that supposedly have to do with disco history, and Brayden assists him. They wear matching pink shorts and sweaters when they do this. One day, after one of these tours concludes, Brayden gets friendly with one of the customers, a curly haired curvy gal named Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo). Ronnie, who confesses to his disbelieving son that he may in fact be ‘the greasy strangler' one morning, isn't keen on Brayden dating Janet. In fact, he's apparent from the start that he'd prefer to have the girl for himself and is not above threatening to evict his son in order to make that happen.

Regardless, Brayden soon loses his virginity to Janet and it's clear that they have a thing for one another. Meanwhile, Ronnie, whose food just can't be greasy enough, is running around naked in the middle of the night, covered in grease, strangling Indian tourists and uncooperative hotdog vendors, then heading over to a car wash run by a blind former disco pal of his named Big Paul (Gil Gex), to clean off the oily evidence. When Big Ronnie, smoothie with the ladies that Brayden knows he is, convinces Janet to go exclusive with him Brayden has little recourse left but to attempt to expose his father as the greasy strangler in hopes of winning back Janet's heart.

That plot synopsis makes things sound reasonably normal, but there's nothing reasonable or normal about Jim Hosking's 2016 film… nothing even close. This is the feature film equivalent of a Tim And Eric Awesome Show episode in a lot of ways, focusing on a similar type of awkward humor, the kind where the camera holds things just a bit longer or shows you more than you want to see, the kind where characters repeat things, where it's funny at first but after a few seconds of it, it's grating. Horribly, horribly grating. At the same time, it's also impossible not to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Ronnie is constantly walking around naked, his horrifyingly exaggerated anatomy on display for all to see. Brayden isn't naked as often, but when he is, well, his horrifyingly inadequate anatomy is also on display for all to see. Janet gets naked too. Hell, there's a lot of nudity in this movie, none of it erotic and all of it played up to insanely exaggerated heights. This, and the constant use of the term ‘bullshit artist,' when combined with the characters' always ridiculous fashions and just the overall insanity of the greasy strangling scenes, well… this isn't a movie for all tastes. But if you're a fan of absurd films or completely off the wall pictures that defy genre expectations, you'll be entertained (and if you think blasting farts, people eating gross things and wonky sex is funny, then so much the better).

The art direction, set dressing and wardrobe is all just as odd as you'd expect, and a big part of what gives the movie some genuine atmosphere. The soundtrack, some of which is quite full and some of which his more accurately described as ‘Casio-esque,' helps here as well. The effects work, usually practical and occasionally digital, well-done and in keeping with the film's screwy sense of humor. What really makes the movie work, however, is the cast. Sky Elobar is freakishly awkward here, pitiful but annoying at the same time, though not without some sympathetic leanings. Elizabeth De Razzo is an interesting casting choice, she plays her character with the type of confidence you don't necessarily expect her to have and it works. The makeup and hair job done to turn her into Janet is also impressive. Gil Gex is pretty funny in his supporting role as the blind car wash owner, but the real star of the show is, hands down, Michael St. Michaels. He's as greasy as greasy can be in this part and he really does make it his own. He's insanely creepy and, at times, absolutely hilarious.

The Video:

The Greasy Strangler is given an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer and is framed at 1.85.1 and it looks very nice. The film was shot digitally so there's obviously no print damage or grain issues to discuss. Detail and color reproduction are really strong here, this is a nice image to be sure. The film doesn't leave much to the imagination and all of the unholy detail and texture that the characters in the story provide really does pop quite a bit here. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts while black levels remain solid throughout. Skin tones also look fine. No real problems here at all.

The Audio:

The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Master Audio track is decent, though obviously a lossless option would have been preferable. The score is spread out nicely is some of the sound effects and foley work. Dialogue stays pretty clear, generally easy to understand save for few lines that are mumbled a bit, which would be intentional given the context in which they occur. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and the track is well-balanced. Optional subtitles are provided in English only and they actually do contain a lot of typos, but they get the job done.

The Extras:

Extra features start off with an audio commentary with director Jim Hosking and leading men Michael St. Michaels and Sky Elobar. It's an interesting and sometimes very funny track that explores the characters that populate the film, talks up some of the effects work, the storyline, what it was like on set, the locations used and more.

From there, jump into the host of interviews that have been provided here, starting with a nine-minute piece with St. Michaels shot on the set of the film. He talks about being cast in the part, the nude scenes in the film, and his thoughts on his character. Elobar is up next in a nine-minute piece where he shares his thoughts on his character and discusses what he feels are some of the standout moments in the picture. Actress Elizabeth De Razzo speaks for eleven-minutes about her thoughts on Janet, what it was like working with St. Michaels and Elobar, doing the nudity that the part required and what it was like taking direction form Hosking. Actor Carl Soloman is up next in an interesting seventeen-minute piece where he talks about the different roles that he played in the film and what was required of him to make that happen. Up next is a twenty-two-minute group interview with Holland MacFallister, Abdoulaye NGom and Sam Dissanayake, the three tourists from Ronnie's first tour, to talk about working with the other cast members and with Hosking. Up next, an eleven-minute piece with art department collaborator/producer Ant Timpson talks about how the funding was put together for the film and what he got involved with, creativity-wise, during the picture's production. Production designer Jason Kisvarday speaks for seven-minutes about how he landed the job on the film and some of the challenges involved in a quick, low budget shoot. Last but not least, we get thirteen-minutes with prop master Zack Carlson who speaks about what he was responsible for on the shoot, working with Hosking and his thoughts on the storyline.

Closing out the extras are the original theatrical t, a red band trailer, a teaser trailer, menus and chapter selection.

Overall:

The Greasy Strangler is a lot of things. It's grotesque, it's crass, it's hilarious, it's disturbing, it's uncomfortable and it's determined to irritate its audience. At the same time, it's also very unique and, if nothing else, weirdly entertaining. While lossless audio would have given this release an appreciable bump, the presentation is otherwise very strong and there are some interesting and valuable extras here as well. Recommended to those with a taste for the absurd and the bizarre.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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