In January of this year, we were pleased to announce that Drafthouse Films was teaming up with Timpson Films, SpectreVision, Andrew Stark's Rook Films and Sightseers and Kill List director Ben Wheatley to produce The Greasy Strangler, from writer (with Toby Harvard) and director Jim Hosking. Hosking is previously responsible for some of Fantastic Fest's favorite shorts, including Renegades and ABCs of Death 2 segment "G is or Grandad," as well as the terrific short film Crabs.
The Greasy Strangler, whose script SpectreVision's Elijah Wood called the "most disgusting, vile, and all-around grotesquely hilarious piece of cinema we’d ever read," is Hosking's feature debut, and today Sundance announced that the film will premiere among its opening weekend midnight programming. I had a chance for a brief chat with Hosking in celebration of the news; read on for that and for a synopsis of the film!
The Los Angeles-set tale follows Ronnie, a man who runs a Disco Walking tour along with his browbeaten son, Brayden. When a sexy, alluring woman comes to take the tour, it begins a competition between father and son for her attentions. It also signals the appearance of an oily, slimy inhuman maniac who stalks the streets at night and strangles the innocent, soon dubbed ‘The Greasy Strangler.’
Congrats on your inclusion in Sundance's midnights lineup! How do you think The Greasy Strangler will play in the typical midnight movie setting?
I think it feels like the logical setting for The Greasy Strangler. If you had to say what time of day should this film play, the answer would be 'just as the bells of midnight begin to toll!’ But how exactly will it play? Well, part of the fun for me is, honestly, I don’t know. A midnight movie should catch people off guard. Me included. Even when I made it!
Your previous shorts (Crabs, Renegades, "G Is For Grandad," etc) all have a very singular, wonderfully awkward feeling to them. What does The Greasy Strangler have in common with those films?
Well, it has me in common with them. I love awkwardness and singularity, that’s true. I like to keep things a little loose to create something unique. I don’t want the film or the scene to be a certain way - I want it to find itself and surprise me and then hopefully be more than I imagined… If I knew how everything would play, I would be less engaged. Of course I have strong ideas about casting and wardrobe and location, etc, so the viewer will ultimately get a strong whiff of Hosking whatever the project. The Greasy Strangler does have a particularly strong whiff. I like filmmakers with a voice. So I decided to try to have one, too!
You've got a lot of Fantastic Fest family attached to this film: Ben Wheatley, SpectreVision, Drafthouse Films. Talk about how Fantastic Fest factors into The Greasy Strangler's genesis.
Well, I had a couple of shorts show at Fantastic Fest in the past. Andy Starke, the producer who first got behind Greasy, met me through Todd Brown who was involved with Ant Timpson and Tim League of Drafthouse in ABCs of Death 2. Andy produced my "G for Grandad" segment. Then ABCs premiered at Fantastic Fest. And Elijah Wood spoke to Ant Timpson at Fantastic Fest about The Greasy Strangler at the time of ABCs. So without Fantastic Fest, none of this would exist, quite possibly. And a shout out to Zack Carlson!
You wrote the film with your "G Is For Grandad" co-writer Toby Harvard. Do you find that you two have distinct roles when co-writing, or is the entire process more collaborative?
We decide to write a script. We throw ideas around. Something sticks. We write out an outline over Skype. Then we take turns writing the script. One of us writes. The other then tweaks and takes the script further. Then the other will tweak that and take the script further. Etc. Until it’s written. The rule is that nothing can be deleted without there being a discussion. If one of us doesn’t like something then generally it will go. That being said, if one of us loves something enough then there is enough trust to let it remain. And fortunately often the same things captivate us. We respect each other and write in different ways on our own separate projects. So HH projects are a very unified voice. It flows...
The Greasy Strangler is one hell of a title. Tell me about it.
I said to Toby, my co-writer, that we should write an insane horror film for our favourite actor who I shall call Mister X. Toby said Mister X could be a greasy strangler. We had a script already, a feature called Crabs that was different from the short film Crabs, where the dad who would be played by Mister X kept saying how greasy the city was and how he wanted to get away from all the greasiness. So we were into Mister X being into the word greasy. Then on February 15, 2013, I replied to Toby that the film should be called The Greasy Strangler. Et voilà, as they say in France.