Review of Greaser’s Palace (1972)

Moving picture, 91 minutes

Seen in 2020.

The second coming of Jesus via parachute into a Wild West town run by Seaweedhead Greaser, a murderous entertainment mogul.

Less imaginative than El Topo (1970), less aligned with the youth culture than Easy Rider (1969) and largely illiterate as a parody of the New Testament (ca. 110 CE) or the entertainment industry. There’s an asshole in a white sheet walking around, representing the “holy ghost”, a pun with no relevance to the book or the contemporary religion.

The zoot-suited Jessy (Jesus) looks a bit like Gene Wilder in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). He reacts to his suddenly bleeding palms (stigmata) as menarche and shouts “I love everybody!” instead of “I love you” when he’s making out with a panting pantsless woman on a carriage, possibly intended to represent Mary Magdalene in Pope Gregory I’s medieval misinterpretation as a whore. This is intentionally blasphemous, but it doesn’t seem to be a criticism of Christianity. In most onlookers, Jessy’s miracles inspire only a quiet, hopeful reverie. This suggests the script is essentially Christian and authoritarian in outlook, and merely flippant about it. Such superficial rebelliousness is both hip and hypocritical.

The costume and set design are surprisingly ambitious for such an obvious acid-trip production, but the continuity is intentionally left on the level of Breathless (1960) and the sound design is awful; the frequent screaming gets annoying. Unsurprisingly, there is no real ending, other than a beautiful shot of a sunset.

References here: Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Life of Brian (1979).

moving picture fiction