Besides the gross-out characters and bizarre screenplay (written by director, Jim Hosking, and friend, Toby Harvard), the most memorable aspect of The Greasy Strangler is the electronic, video-game-esque score by Andrew Hung – which received a nomination for Best Soundtrack at the Empire Awards. Andrew is known for being one-half of Fuck Buttons (Tarot Sport, Slow Focus), alongside Benjamin John Power. He has recently released a solo album – called Realisationship – which he wrote, performed, produced and mixed himself. I had the opportunity to talk to him this summer about The Greasy Strangler, its reception and his career so far.
The trailer for Jim Hosking’s (ABCs of Death 2, Renegades) debut feature film, The Greasy Strangler, aptly begins by preparing viewers for “scenes of excessive greasiness”. What is missing from this message is the warnings of swinging prosthetic penises, eyeballs popping out of heads, wincing gut-on-gut sex (“Seriously … imagine if I farted now…”), and excessive use of the phrases “BULLSHIT ARTIST” and “HOOTIE TOOTIE DISCO CUTIE”. Complete with a mostly unknown cast, The Greasy Strangler is a story of family values, first love and jealousy, which can be sentimental in the closing scenes… if you can make it through without fainting. Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels) and Big Brayden (Sky Elobar) are our protagonists, who are father and son respectively. Often dressed in bright pink jumpers and matching woolly shorts, they run a disco walking tour business in a deserted, tumbleweed-inducing part of Los Angeles, lecturing their customers on naff disco trivia (“[The Bee Gees] wrote the lyrics [to Night Fever] while they were standing in this doorway… They were waiting for a friend to pick them up. They were going out for Chinese and celebrating his birthday.”). Big Brayden is middle-aged, whiny and his OAP father’s minion, who he serves meals caked in thick, gooey grease. Brayden falls for a customer on his tour, called Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo). Throughout the 93-minute running time, both father and son compete for her love. Big Ronnie is aggressive, crude and goes on murderous rampages at night covered in his precious grease.. introducing The Greasy Strangler.
“When you are with people who haven’t seen [The Greasy Strangler], that is when it is most powerful,” Andrew Hung tells Galaxy Media. At the Sundance Film Festival (where the film debuted in the Midnight category in 2016), there were reportedly quite a few walkouts. “I watched it at Sundance,” says Andrew, “I remember this woman behind me, and she was saying ‘Oh Jesus! Oh Jesus! Oh Jesus!'”
It is probably too early to conclude whether the film will be a cult phenomenon – it certainly aimed for that status with its outlandish concept, which is nearly as bold as Pink Flamingos or The Toxic Avenger series. According to Andrew, the reception to The Greasy Strangler was mixed (like most cult films): “There is a difference between the American and English audience reaction to [the film]. There was a lot of whooping at the beginning and a lot of punching-the-air mentality [from the Americans], and that just turned into silence … [English audiences] got it. If you can imagine playing The League of Gentlemen to an English audience and an American audience, the difference between those receptions. English people are… kind of… just weirder! Even though it’s an American film, I think it is very English.” The audience were not the only people shocked by what they had just seen: the crew – including Andrew – were gobsmacked. “I remember the atmosphere before the film was very jovial,” again talking about Sundance, “All the actors – a strange group of people – were chatty and there was a lot of bravado. I remember after everybody had seen it, they were stone silent. We didn’t know what was going on. The after party was pretty much dead.”
Now Andrew has written the soundtrack for The Greasy Strangler, is composing music for films something he is going to continue? “I am interested in the collaborative aspect of it,” Andrew reveals, “working with Jim was an incredible experience, we both egged each other on. Those are the best sort of collaborations … [Jim’s] direction is kind of loose. I didn’t compose the music for any particular scene; I was composing music which was of a particular mood. It was Jim that put [the music] in place. I remember at the time I was kind of daunted by all that.” Andrew Hung’s respect for The Archbishop of Grease, Jim Hosking, maybe suggests that we can expect another collaboration in the future, especially if what Hosking offers is as exciting as The Greasy Strangler. “The last few years has been me trying to figure out what is important to me in terms of what I do with my life,” Andrew concludes, “I think I have got it down now. As long as it all comes from a place where you feel good about it, that is all I need from it.” At least you enjoy what you are doing then? “Why else would you live, I guess?”
The Greasy Strangler soundtrack is available to buy, download and stream. Andrew Hung is touring in November with Eyedress. He will be performing tracks from Realisationship and The Greasy Strangler.