Certainly one of the more wildly memorable midnight movies during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival was Jim Hosking’s wonderfully depraved The Greasy Strangler, which follows disco-loving Big Ronnie (Michael St. Michaels), his awkward son, Brayden (Sky Elobar), and a mysterious woman named Janet (Elizabeth De Razzo) vying for their affections.

Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with the trio about their experiences working together on The Greasy Strangler and to be honest, the conversation took a bunch of hysterical left turns along the way. Read on to hear more from the cast of The Greasy Strangler and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more on this one as fans of cult cinema definitely will want to check it out for themselves.

I must say, when you start off Sundance and you see that first Midnight movie, you want something that's going to be completely unexpected and totally wild, and that was The Greasy Strangler.

Sky: And sexy.

Michael: Yeah, because I'm in it.

Elizabeth: And greasy, too.

Michael: We like to keep it well-lubricated. We hate chafing.

Sky: You just lubricated that lube down there.

Michael: No, that was done before me.

Sky: Yeah, right.

Michael: It was!

Sky: Dammit! I went in there with a gas mask and it dissolved.

I'm curious, how did you guys get involved with the film and what were your first impressions of this script? Because I'm guessing it probably read unlike much of anything that's out there right now.

Michael: Well, it was all Jim’s fault!

Sky: About a year before—over a year before—Jim called me in to read through some of this and I read through the script and I thought, "Honestly, they're never going to make this movie. This is so out there, nobody is going to make this movie." But I thought it was unique, for sure.

Michael: I'm dyslexic, so when I read it I had no idea what it was because I turn words around when I read.

That's how they roped you in. You had no idea.

Michael: Yeah, and then they asked, "Will you do this or will you do that?" I said, "Sure." Because I'm an actor and we're basically the tools of the director and whatever we have that he thinks he could use, he's entitled to. I did realize what I was agreeing to, but it ended because they all do eventually and I went home and I read the script again and–

Sky: How long did it take for you to get the grease out of your hair?

Michael: About two and a half hours a night.

They didn't put you through a car wash?

Michael: Well yeah, but that didn't get the really caked on stuff.

Sky: We were in a car wash and Jim says to the guy who owns the car wash, "Turn on the hoses because I want to see the real stuff comin' out," right? The guy tells him he can’t because of the recycled water and how it’s like sewage. That's what car washes use. He said, "You can't put that on these guys, that's toxic!" Jim's like, "Okay, I guess."

Elizabeth: You should have been like, "Yeah, whatever, it's fine."

Sky: I was into it. I actually was looking forward to doing that because all my life I've wanted to walk through car washes.

Elizabeth: I know, most of us as kids want to.

Sky: We did eventually get to go through the actual brushes and they set up a little prop that spewed out real, good water all over us so we didn’t get sick or anything.

What's interesting to me about this movie is that there is a lot of very absurd humor, but Ronnie, Brayden and Janet all really anchor this and there is humanity to the characters which, in a movie like this, you wouldn't expect. What was your approach, as actors, to keep them grounded even though the rest of the movie is so very out there?

Elizabeth: I tried to play it straight, because most of their dialogue is really just out there. I don't think Janet really has a lot of dialogue that's as serious as some of theirs is, but I just tried to play the straight girl to them and approached it almost as a dramatic piece. I try to convey the character as bright, but then we see her turmoil as she falls for Ronnie’s antics.

Michael: I really didn't see anything all that unusual about the movie. I lead a very sheltered life, so I didn't realize this wasn't an everyday type occurrence. As far as a relationship with my children, it's not the same. I'm the only one that matters. The world revolves around me and if it doesn't, I knock it out of the way.

Sky: I grew up with an eccentric father, kind of like Ronnie, but my dad was way smarter than him. I knew how to approach this whole situation from a reality standpoint. My dad took me on a vacation once and there was a fly in the room and he called 9-1-1.

Elizabeth: Are you serious?

Sky: Yeah. He was very, very eccentric. We all have out there parents.

When you're doing a movie like this where there are a lot of things called upon you in terms of really stripping down to the core, how much trust do you have to build between you guys and Jim as the director?

Elizabeth: I don't think you ever really are truly comfortable no matter how much trust that you have, because you're still exposing yourself. It's just that you have to get to the point where you're like, "Fuck it"—that kind of thing. Because it's still a little uncomfortable and you just have to go into a scene and say, "Oh well, here it goes." That was my experience.

Michael: I felt that the only one who would be uncomfortable about it would be whoever saw it. Personally, I don't really care. One of my early acting idols was this guy Taylor Mead, who was the original superstar. Andy Warhol did a movie called Taylor Mead's Ass. It's just a couple hours of him playing with his butt. After seeing that I figured, "Well, anything I do is nothing compared to that."

Sky: I worked with Jim before on two other projects and it was a real pleasure. We had a good vibe, so whatever he tells me to do, I do it. I just was questioning whether the movie was ever going to be made by looking at the script. Then he called me and said, "We're doing this." I still don’t believe it.

My last question would be in relation to that idea. Looking at this whole experience, where here you guys are sitting at Sundance with a movie you wouldn’t necessarily expect to get made—what’s been the most surprising part of this whole journey for you so far?

Elizabeth: One of the things for me was so much of me was exposed. You don't really see plus-size actresses put it all out and folks aren’t used to seeing “odd” bodies on the big screen. There was a really good response to that, and I was freaking out a little bit the first night it came out because it's like, "Oh crap!" But I was able to watch it yesterday for the first time as a fan and enjoy it, and I was like, "Oh my god, this is so hilarious," and see it outside of myself. I didn't see myself in the movie. I was just watching a movie and I got to enjoy it as an audience member.

Sky: For me, I learned that I'd rather be Sky Elobar than Tom Cruise. Absolutely.

Michael: Yeah, cause he's a really short little twerp. I worked with him.

Elizabeth: Oh my god, Michael!

Sky: No, but I couldn't do what he does man, ever. I mean, I don't want to be him.

Michael: Yeah, this movie is pretty weird.

Elizabeth: Hey, I enjoyed Magnolia.

Sky: Maybe Tom Cruise wasn't a good example. I guess I'd rather be Sky Elobar than Matthew McConaughey. Yeah.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.