Movie Review: Sometimes in film a scene which is weird, horrifying or disturbing is carried to such an extreme that it transcends being grotesque and becomes beautiful. Jodorowsky's "Santa Sangre," Fellini's "Satyricon," and all of Lynch's films have moments like these. Unfortunately, "Greaser's Palace," though it tries really hard, never quite goes from ugly duckling to swan. Weird, horrifying and disturbing (and sometimes hilarious) it is indeed, but the pieces in the puzzle never quite come together. I must say this, though, Robert Downey has made one hell of a riveting film. I couldn't turn away from my TV screen for an instant. The movie seems to be a rather loosely told version fo the passion of Christ, set in the wild west. There is a Christ figure (who arrives on earth rather anachronistically via a parachute wearing a pimp suit), some disciples (about 17 of them), a miracle or three (some walking on water, some raising of the dead, a little healing, a little stigmata, etc.), and the obligatory being nailed to a crucifix. However, I don't recall the rest of the plot being in the Bible. I'm not going to try and describe it, except to say that the Christ figure is a singer-dancer-actor going to Jerusalem, to get an audition with the great agent Morris. Indeed, in one scene he puts on a little song and dance routine for his disciples, but they aren't impressed with his performance until he starts screaming and bleeding from the holes that appear in his hands, at which point they applaud. The image of Christ as showman, rather than a shaman, is quite provocative, and the audience that is only satisfied when their savior is in pain seems to be a glimpse into human nature not often afforded the viewer of this film, which is filled with cartoony violence, stilted dialogue, and unnatural posturing. The fact that this hint of truth about what we really want out of entertainment (in an age when we pay $29.95 to watch the Ultimate Fighting Championship on Pay-Per-View, who wouldn't enjoy a little screaming and stigmata?) comes in the midst of all these people doing their best to act inhuman, or at least unhuman, may indicate that there is more to this film than meets the eye. But is the movie good? I'm not certain about how good or bad it is, but I know that I was mesmerized by it. There were so many disturbing, fantastic, and humorous things...A few that come to mind are: --Herve Villechaize as the diminutive gay man who has "Jesus" over for dinner and flirts with him. --Herve's "wife," a bearded man in drag who angrily squeezes the Messiah's testicles after he refuses to sleep with the couple. --The woman who keeps getting shot throughout the film by an unknown assailant. --Mr. Greaser's intense orgasm and/or bowel movement which causes his palace to explode (I didn't understand either...). --Lamey Homo's description of the afterlife, "I was swimming in a rainbow with naked babies, and I turned into a beautiful smile," which he repeats three times during the film (he keeps getting killed and brought back to life). --The Holy Ghost. --The Native American who gets his lower back problem fixed when the Messiah turns out to be not only the son of God, but also a fairly good chiropractor. --The savage beating of a transvestite nun by Lamey Homo and the monk. --Etc. Throughout the film I was continually trying to determine whether I was watching the work of a genius or a just a load of crap. I'm still not sure, but I know one thing; this movie is fascinating, and though it never really becomes more than the sum of its parts, they certainly are interesting parts. "Greaser's Palace," is weird, funny, disturbing, gross, ugly, and strange, and I wholeheartedly recommend it. I guarantee you won't forget this film.
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