In the song, “Re: Your Brains,” Jonathan Coulton makes the profound observation that, “No one’s gonna eat your eyes.” Words to live by indeed but definitely not the case in The Greasy Strangler. A friend of mine recommended this flick mainly so we could then use each other as sounding boards for the what-the-fuckedness of it.
Now…obviously our Weirdness Bar here at Castle Blogferatu is set PRET-ty damn high. Every so often though, something comes along that clears it while wearing heels–something so indescribably weird, it even makes us go, “Wha…?” and tilt our heads like a dog who’s heard a high-pitched noise.
How then does one go about trying to describe this wonder of joyously unrestrained ugliness?
Maybe all the ickiest parts of John Waters meet all the seedier parts of David Lynch and/or vice versa. Throw in some of the more vile aspects of Bukowski. But take away any sense of, for lack of a better word, style. Seriously.
Because it takes a certain amount of style and oily (heh) suavity to carry off louche to the degree John Waters does. And there’s a certain amount of style to even the seamiest, most bedraggled and noir-y David Lynch character. Watch Wild At Heart if you don’t believe me.
The plot, such as it is, revolves around would-be science fiction writer, Big Brayden (Sky Elobar) and his pathological liar father, Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels). Eventually conflict arises over a love interest, Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo). And there’s murder. And the alluded to eating of eyeballs.
And yet, I enjoy this weird little romp. Everything about it is way the hell off-kilter and over the top–the violence, the acting, the script. It definitely doesn’t take itself seriously, and pretty much everything is played for laughs–gross laughs that should bring one shame for laughing, but laughs.
It’s… an experience.
Still, let’s slide (heh heh) in a few, uh, “highlights.” Gore? Minimal. But there’s something to be said for the comic-book-like levels of violence. At least a couple sets of eyes pop out as victims get strangled, for example. The repeated car wash scenes are gross but sickly funny as well.
Having watched the oil fight scene in The Transporter, I also have what I guess is a physics concern–seems like it should be really difficult to strangle someone whilst one is covered in grease.
It’s interesting as well that the problem I have with the endings of The Greasy Strangler and Big Man Japan is the same problem I have with all of The Favourite and The Lobster. Each leaves me with nothing but a profound sense of “I. Don’t. Get it.”
It’s one thing if I straight up just don’t understand or I’m just not pickin’ up what the director is layin’ down, like the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I know there’s something important going on there; I’m just not finding it. It’s frustrating, kinda like when I can’t find Waldo. It’s another thing entirely when I suspect the director is purposely trying to make me not get it.
I mean, unlikely at it seems, I’m not always the smartest person in the room. Certainly I’ve got my intellectual shortcomings and blind spots, some legitimate, many probably chemically induced (college is a bit hazy).
But I’m not stupid, and “Look at me being clever and artistic” starts with the same desperate three words as “Look at me being repulsive and graphic.”
Given the choice, I’ll gladly take the latter. Usually.
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