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When a liquor store owner finds a case of "Viper" (a cheap wine) in his cellar, he decides to sell it to the local hobos at one dollar a bottle, unaware of its true properties. The drinks causes its consumers to melt, very messily. Two homeless lads find themselves up against the effects of the toxic brew, as well as going head to head with "Bronson", a deranged Vietnam veteran with sociopathic tendencies, and the owner of the junkyard they live in...
For more about Street Trash and the Street Trash Blu-ray release, see Street Trash Blu-ray Review published by Brian Orndorf on August 3, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Mike Lackey, Bill Chepil, Vic Noto, Mark Sferrazza, Jane Arakawa, Nicole Potter
Director: J. Michael Muro
» See full cast & crew
Street Trash Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Brian Orndorf, August 3, 2013
It's difficult to be truly offended by "Street Trash" because the picture is designed to repulse. It's not a movie for the faint of heart or the easily disturbed, spending 100 minutes running through all sorts of grotesqueries, sticky incidents, and nasty behavior, forging a subgenre known as "melt," which is exactly what the brand promises. The film is vile and frenzied, but it's also shockingly well made, crafted by a production team taking the challenge of a splatter film seriously, generating an outstandingly designed and photographed effort that's beguiling in its screen toxicity. Nobody's going to mistake "Street Trash" for Shakespeare, but saddled with a low budget and a premise that all but demands immediate dismissal, the endeavor somehow emerges slickly crafted and darkly comic, only overstepping its authority occasionally, perhaps just to make sure the viewer doesn't grow complacent with this phantasmagoria of carnival-colored death.
In the heart of the city, a population of homeless people have taken over a remote corner of a junkyard, with Fred (Mike Lackey) building himself a home inside a pile of tires, while psychotic Vietnam vet Bronson (Vic Noto) rules the area atop a makeshift throne, making time with Winette (Nicole Potter). Discovering a hidden case of expired hooch, liquor store owner Ed (M. D'Jango Krunch) decides to sell the bad booze to the drunks in the neighborhood. However, the "Tenafly Viper" doesn't simply provide a cheap high, it corrodes the consumer at first sip, reducing them to a puddle of vibrantly colored fluid. Attempting to make sense of the situation is cop Bill (Bill Chepil), who targets Bronson's reign of terror, while Fred attempts to survive street life with the help of friends and family, including kleptomaniac Burt (Clarenze Jarmon) and Kevin (Mark Sferrazza), who's nursing a crush on beleaguered junkyard employee Wendy (Jane Arakawa).
Scripted by Roy Frumkes, "Street Trash" is out to upset, though, in a miracle bit of writing, it's rarely an angry film. In lesser hands, the aggressive death and destruction of the story could easily register as rage, yet Frumkes and director Jim Muro treat the material as a black comedy, making sure to balance most disquieting trips to the gore zone with laughs, infusing the picture with a sense of humor. Not an especially uproarious one, but just enough to keep "Street Trash" away from being the most depraved production in the history of cinema. After all, life isn't valued here, with a rising body count courtesy of Viper swigs, while various acts of assault are viewed throughout the effort. The creative team mostly holds to the limits of genre escapism, keeping the movie amusing while it surveys a nest of lost souls fighting to survive.
"Street Trash" approaches the potential of a cartoon on multiple occasions, but always stops short of committing to a broad tone. The showpieces of the picture are the Viper melts, and instead of a bloodbath where flesh is liquefied into pink goo, Muro and Frumkes use rainbow colors to identify the disintegration of the poor saps who dare sample the poison. These sequences are impressive and outlandish, twisting formula by splashing the screen with melted Crayolas instead of deep, chunky reds, subverting expectations for a traditional splatter extravaganza. There's also a heightened sense of costuming and theatrical make-up design, adding to the unreality of the feature -- a dingy horror fantasyland of cretins and survivors dressed up in Halloween outfits. However, in terms of tonality, there is one major misstep, with Frumkes cooking up a gang rape and murder midway through "Street Trash," knocking the wind out of the movie's tattered sails. It's ludicrous to criticize a singular bit of ugliness in an effort that's fueled entirely on repulsive acts (the sexual assault is followed-up with a dash of necrophilia), but the darkness of such a moment, wedged awkwardly into a stream of self-conscious goofballery (the plot is more vignette-centric than consistent), is difficult to digest, sticking out as needless shock value in a film that has cupboards full of the stuff.
Awful business aside, "Street Trash" is a fantastically directed picture, enjoying fluid camera movement and textured locations, with crisp, smartly framed cinematography that makes the minimal budget look like the production spent millions of dollars. Muro has a terrific eye for the dark delights of the movie, and his visual sense is masterfully boosted by extraordinary achievements in set design and make-up effects, with the melt scenes unforgettable. It's unnerving how polished "Street Trash" is, once again disturbing expectations with a virile cinematic appearance. That Muro hasn't directed another feature film is a real disappointment.
Street Trash Blu-ray, Video Quality
The AVC encoded image (1.78:1 aspect ratio) presentation on "Street Trash" is quite eye-opening in its freshness and crispness, making a low-budget movie from the '80s look outstanding. Colors are the big sell here, with primaries spectacular and secure, while the neon hues of the Viper melts create an ideal impression, preserving the feature's cartoon presence in a striking way. Hues look phenomenal, bringing the extravagant palette to life. Detail is superb as well, with impressive textures on costuming and set design, while skin particulars are equally communicative, also revealing subtleties of make-up work and splatter shots. Grain is managed smartly, creating a filmic appearance, while only a few elements of debris pop into view. Shadow detail is deep, permitting an appreciation for dimly lit interiors and dense costuming. Care and effort went into bringing "Street Trash" to Blu-ray and it shows, resulting in a vivid, confident viewing experience that supports the gloppy brutality with near perfection.
Street Trash Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA sound mix comes off a little restrained, registering quiet for such a garish picture. Center dialogue is soft at times, requiring monitoring to keep it in line with the rest of the track. Surrounds are mostly employed for support, pushing front elements of violence around without striking separation, but a few sequences manage to make an immersive impression, including Bronson's Vietnam War flashback, with its exploding bombs and gunfire. Atmospherics are comfortable, capturing intended gurgles and screams, and scoring is supportive without being obtrusive, sustaining thin drum machine beats as naturally as can be. While not an overwhelming mix, the basics in tonality are preserved to satisfaction. There's an original 2.0 mix for purists, which sounds a tad rougher, exposing more hiss.
Street Trash Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Street Trash Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
"Street Trash" truly has it all: rampaging Vietnam vets (with flashback footage), a game of hot potato with a severed penis, a random subplot exploring hostilities between a mobster (Tony Darrow) and one of his subordinates (James Lorinz), and a homeless man shoplifting raw chicken down his pants. It's a wild ride, but one with an abnormal amount of filmmaking creativity keeping it alive. It's an amazing gross-out endeavor, and mercifully a movie that cares enough to put a little elbow grease into its buffet of bubbling bodies.
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Street Trash Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Street Trash Blu-ray - March 28, 2013
Independent distributors Synapse Films have announced that they will release on Blu-ray J. Michael Muro's horror comedy Street Trash (1987), starring Mike Lackey, Bill Chepil, Vic Noto. The preliminary release date set by the distributors is June 11th.
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