This movie is awesome and you should see it, right now.
Imagine a John Waters film… No, not Hairspray… Or Cry Baby…. Imagine a John Waters film between 1969 and 1974. Okay, think of that. Now imagine Waters decided to throw in a bunch of Troma-esque gore, and even more disgust-inducing visuals.
Imagine all that, and you have *drum-roll* Kurt Dirt’s Life is Cheap!
Now, imagine that movie had an actual budget – and you have the Greasy Strangler!
Okay, that’s not strictly fair. Life is Cheap and The Greasy Strangler are very similar in a lot of ways – but their are some pretty fundamental differences.
With Life is Cheap, I felt like Kurt was going for all-out disgust. Like if GG Allin became a movie director instead of a musician. The film tried, and succeeded, at being a perfect gross-out fest.
The Greasy Strangler, while it certainly does assault the audience with disgusting visuals, is also far more conventional in its approach… To a point.
This is a film that manages to merge a fairly traditional narrative with absurdism and totally gets away with it, against all the odds. And, yes, I’m aware I just said that a film about a greased-up elderly man strangling people until their eyes pop out had a traditional narrative.
The real story of the film is that of a sordid love triangle between Big Ronnie (AKA the Greasy Strangler), his son Brayden, and Janet – who they meet while doing their Disco-walk tour.
The three main characters are all disgusting and bizarre in their own ways, but also have distinct and understandable personalities.
Aside from being a psychotic, greased-up murderer, Big Ronnie is reprehensible in less obvious ways. He constantly lies about his past adventures, his knowledge of disco, and even convinces his friend that his son shits the bed, for no real reason.
Brayden is a pathetic, possibly developmentally challenged, man-child, who seems unable to escape his father’s shadow. All he seems to want is a genuinely meaningful relationship with Janet.
Janet is, in some ways, the most reprehensible character of the bunch. Clearly not a psychopath on the level of Big Ronnie, but almost as callous. Janet seems happy to not only cheat on Brayden with his father, but even goes as far as to openly mock him after the two of them sleep together.
While these three characters actually have an interesting dynamic that goes deeper than a film like this really needs them to, the peripheral characters are where the film really gets its absurdist fix.
From Oinker, a character with a pig snout covering a bloody hole where his nose should be, to the three foreign tourists who will probably cause a very strangely pronounced version of the word “potato” to burn itself into your brain for several weeks after watching the film, the world this film inhabits is one full of weird and illogical people.
Then there’s the ending. I won’t get into spoilers territory, but this film ends with what can only really be described as pure insanity.
Well-crafted, fun, absurd yet thought out… this movie is awesome, and you should see it!
Just be prepared to hear the phrase “bullshit artist” a lot. Because you will.