Friday, April 17, 2009

Street Trash

Film: Street Trash (1987)
Dir: Jim Muro
Rating: **** out of 5 stars

Pay no attention to that Tommy Vance quote on the poster - it is wildly inaccurate and just plain stupid. However, Street Trash is an awesome movie full of tasteless hilarity, quirky characters, and gooey gore. A better comparison would be: Bad Taste meets The Toxic Avenger on the set of They Live. In other words - fantastic.

The film is about a community of derelicts living in and around a NYC junkyard. When the local liquor store starts selling a mysterious booze called Tenefly Viper for $1, a slew of homeless winos are found dead - or more specifically, melted. Aside from that, there is very little plot. We follow the daily hijinx of Fred and his brother Kevin, who get into a mess of trouble with the Viper, the local mafia, the police, and Bronson, a ruthless Vietnam vet who rules the junkyard.

Street Trash isn't exactly known for having an intelligent or even cohesive plot. But it does have a range of hilarious characters, outrageous scenes and quotables, and some surprisingly awesome melt FX. Seriously, Jennifer Aspinall and Mike Lackey (who also plays Fred) did an amazing job with the special makeup effects. I was impressed from the infamous toilet scene and it only got better thereafter. You really must see this movie to believe it.

I fear that director Jim Muro (now J. Michael Muro) is ashamed of this film, and he has not directed since but is a very successful stedicam operator. It's a real shame because he did a great job with this one, as did writer Roy Frumkes. I was pleasantly surprised at how much Evil Dead influence appeared in this too - from the Sam-o-Cam shots to the choice of making the hobos' blood every color except red. Again, it's a shame Muro didn't embrace directing - he might have been another Raimi.

A lot of people compare this to Troma films, but honestly, I think it's way superior. It never felt like shock-for-the-sake-of-shock, or cheap, dirty humor. Oh, it's trashy (look at the title) but it's fantastic and so, so funny. This movie definitely stole a place in my heart among cult classics like Re-Animator and Bad Taste.

**PS - I don't usually mention DVD features in these reviews, but if you see and enjoy Street Trash, you MUST check out "The Meltdown Memoirs" on the two-disc set. It is a lengthy documentary about the making of the film and has interviews with everyone in the cast, and most of the crew - including Bryan Singer, who was a production assistant on the film. Of course, Muro does not appear. It is very comprehensive and a must-see for fans of the film.