Welcome to Commentary Commentary, our long-running series of articles exploring the things we can learn from the most interesting filmmaker commentaries available on DVD and Blu-ray.
They say you can’t intentionally make a cult film, but you can certainly try. The Greasy Strangler tries very, very hard, and the result is a film that’s as unique as it is odd. We’ll have to wait a decade or so to see if the film is remembered as a cult favorite, but for now we can probably all agree that it’s a ridiculously absurd genre-bender guaranteed to have both fierce advocates and absolute detractors.
Keep reading to see what I heard on the commentary track for…
The Greasy Strangler (2016)
Commentators: Jim Hosking (director/co-writer), Michael St. Michaels (actor), Sky Elobar (actor)
1. The house was actually every bit as disgusting and smelly as it looks. “It’s a shame we don’t have a good shot of the black mold,” says Michaels.
2. Elobar says he gained roughly fifteen pounds for the role “on that belly there.”
3. Big Ronnie’s (Michaels) member beneath the sheets is actually a broken pool cue. He spends the rest of the film saying the bulges are all him.
4. Composer Andrew Hung is a member of the band Fuck Buttons.
5. Michaels thinks the shot of him mooning the tourists is held too long. “Well it’s deliberately long,” says Hosking.
6. Hosking acknowledges that most people find the food shots disgusting, but he for one thinks that sausage looks delicious.
7. Sam Dissanayake is unintentionally wearing his boxers backward during the scene at the vending machine. “But that’s the way Indian people do it,” says Elobar before Hosking adds “I really wouldn’t encourage that kind of generalization.”
8. The “potato” misunderstanding was inspired by a real incident Hosking encountered in an Indian restaurant in London. He couldn’t understand the waiter’s pronunciation of “potato.”
9. “This is the only scene that I actually had some reservations about,” says Michaels regarding the bit where he rolls backward and farts towards his son Big Braydon (Elobar). “I just envisioned a close-up of my asshole, and I wasn’t really happy with that.”
10. An early reader of the script was excited to learn the various disco-related details covered on Ronnie and Braydon’s tours. “Except it’s all bullshit,” says Hosking.
11. A woman was actually visible in the booth beside Braydon and Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) during the restaurant scene, but Hosking removed her digitally so that Janet would be the only woman in the movie surrounded by “sad men.”
12. The hot dog vendor is played by Mel Kohl, and while Hosking loves that his nose looks like a penis the film’s producers wanted to cut him out “because they couldn’t stand his acting.”
13. The original cut was over two hours and ten minutes long.
14. The RV belonged to the film’s DP who sold it after production was finished. Michaels wishes he had known that in advance, but Elobar adds that he was going to buy it “but I called my friend who’s an RV specialist, and he said don’t buy it.”
15. Hosking removed the sounds of Janet’s moans during the sex scene so we would only hear Braydon asking repeatedly “Is this right?”
16. The park bench sequence between Ronnie and Janet required some genital arranging to take full advantage of Ronnie’s special disco outfit. Hosking apparently spent a couple minutes positioning the fake penis before realizing he had been fondling Michaels’ real one. “I loved the attention,” adds Michaels.
17. Hosking’s favorite sequence is the bit where Ronnie is walking and begins dancing when the spotlight hits him. “It’s like Singing in the Rain,” says Michaels. “Gene Kelly on crack,” adds Elobar.
18. Hosking received producer notes suggesting there were “one too many farts in the film.”
19. The most “uncomfortable” scene to shoot in the film, per Hosking, was the sex scene between Ronnie and Janet.
20. Hosking found Janet’s merkin to be too excessively large at first, “but the more I watch it the more I like how it’s thick and luxurious.”
21. That’s an ass double for the scene where Janet sings “Hootie tootie disco cutie!” and parts her butt cheeks. “It’s someone I never even said hello too because I felt too embarrassed.”
22. One of the three old men in the firing squad at the end is sporting “a tiny erection.”
Best in Context-Free Commentary
“I have a D-cup in this movie.”
“These outfits were really comfortable.”
“That’s one of the few takes where your teeth didn’t fall out Michael.”
“Some people aren’t very convincing when they’re just being themselves.”
“We experimented with the sound of Janet’s urination.”
The Greasy Strangler – Special Director’s Edition [Blu-ray]
There’s no getting around the film’s intentionally offensive and off-putting nature as it’s a badge it wears proudly from beginning to end. Some scenes feel a bit forced and stretched-out in their weirdness, but it never pretends to be anything beyond what it is. The commentary offers some fun anecdotes and insights, and aside from a few questionable jokes – that Hosking quickly shuts down – the trio stay on point in their thoughts on the production.
The Blu-ray available via Amazon (linked above) is a BD-R, so be aware that while it does include the commentary and interviews it’s a manufactured-on-demand disc.
There are eight on-set interviews collected on the disc including the three leads and a few other members of the cast and crew. They’re all worthwhile for fans of the film (despite some rough audio at times), but the highlights are definitely Michaels for his character, De Razzo for her honesty, and Alamo Drafthouse alum Zack Carlson for his laughs and insight.
The new JB Hi-Fi “Greasy Down Under Deluxe Edition” from Monster Pictures (linked below) adds a second disc of special features to the mix including additional interviews, featurettes, and marketing materials.
- Bullshit Artist [15:50] – Co-writer/director Jim Hoskins talks about the film’s origin and production.
- I’m a Cheesy Cornball [7:54] – Sky Elobar, looking about forty pounds lighter, discusses the experience of working on the film and wearing those outfits.
- Hootie Tootie Disco Cutie [13:02] – Elizabeth De Razzo describes her character as “slutty Velma from Scooby Doo meets Orphan Annie but perved up.”
- The Greasy Trap [3:35] – Cast and crew share the horror or working in that nasty house.
- The Greasy Effect [3:48] – Hoskins talks about the film’s special effects.
- Greasy Down Under Cuisine [26:15] – Elobar and De Razzo sample some Australian culinary delights.
- Greasy Down Under Road Trip [2:14] – Footage from a mini road trip with fans.
- Monster Fest 2016 Q&A [27:34] – Elobar and De Razzo take part in a Q&A after a recent Australian festival screening.
- Deleted/extended scenes [7:52]
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