John Waters deserves deification for many things, but maybe chiefly for the affection he clearly feels for his long list of oddballs, who are just doing what comes naturally, no matter how weird.
The Greasy Strangler may share many of Waters's favorite transgressions, but its approach to the material is far less organic, resulting in a grosser-than-gross endurance test. That said, if this sounds like your sort of thing, the film's commitment to being continually, thoroughly unpleasant is almost admirable. To steal a line from Mystery Science Theater 3000, every frame looks like someone's Last Known Photo.
The plot follows a man (the genuinely alarming Michael St. Michaels) who, when he's not consuming the most disgusting food in existence, enjoys occasionally covering himself head-to-toe with goo and strangling townsfolk. When he finds himself jealous of his son's (Sky Elobar) new girlfriend (Elizabeth De Razzo), it leads, logically enough, to eyeball gobbling, naked jaunts through the car wash, and plenty of other stuff too yechy to print.
Director Jim Hosking's feature debut owes a significant debt to the Adult Swim/Tim and Eric house style, being full to bursting with ironic close-ups of strange people repeating nonsense phrases. While this sometimes results in an indelible moment—an out-of-nowhere spotlight dance is unexpectedly, weirdly lovely—it also makes you realize just how hard it must be to keep coming up with new ways to trip the gag reflex of the viewers. Too often, the camera just gives up and leers at what seems to be a never-ending cascade of man-boobs and way-too-form-fitting briefs.
Still, those who do make it through The Greasy Strangler will most likely never forget it, thanks to St. Michaels, a long-time Hollywood supporting actor who submerges himself completely into his character, creating a horribly fascinating distillation of every person you've ever hoped will find another seat on the bus. A quick shot of him hiding under the bed should be enough to refill your nightmare fuel tanks until the next leap year, at least.