Street Trash Blu-ray Review
Directed by Jim Muro
Written by Roy Frumkes
1987, Region A, 102 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on July 9th, 2013
Mike Lackey as Fred
Bill Chepil as Bill the Cop
Vic Noto as Bronson
Jane Arakawa as Wendy
Clarenze Jarmon as Burt
Tony Darrow as Nick Duran
James Lorinz as Doorman
Pat Ryan as Frank
Life as a New York City wino can be rough, but things get even worse when a case of rancid booze known as “Tenafly Viper” hits the streets and people start melting into Technicolor vomit puddles. A body-building cop named Bill is on the job to find out what is going on, but he cannot seem to get a proper lead in the case of the incredible melting men. Suspicion points to a group of hobos living at the local junkyard owned by the morbidly obese Frank. Despite Frank's imposing nature, the bums are ruled by Bronson, a psychotic Vietnam vet. These characters get into endless shenanigans, usually involving at least one bodily fluid and most differences are settled through excessive violence.
Fred is a somewhat likeable dirtbag who lives in a tire fort with his younger brother. He is the first to discover the tainted liquor, but before our anti-hero can sample the goods, an aggressive bum beats him up and steals it. He scores a second bottle and gets rolled again, and it isn't until later that he witnesses what happens when a plus-sized pal drinks this toxic piss and explodes. Fred warns his friends to stay clear of the stuff, but it isn't long before he decides the hooch can be used against the bastards who beat him up on a daily basis. Fred isn't much of a role model and is soon mixed up in a mafia subplot involving the gangbang and murder of a local gangster's girlfriend.
A potential love story between Fred's little brother and Wendy, the junkyard secretary, offers a glimpse of hope in an otherwise depressing environment. The two are likeable and decent, which is pretty out of the norm for the events taking place around them. Also on hand for comic relief is Burt, a gentle giant who briefly steals the show as he goes grocery shopping in a spirited manner. Just about everyone else is pretty repugnant, including the cop on the case who is just as angry and violent as Bronson the vet. The policeman is most offensive in one scene where he demonstrates a particularly nasty finishing move following a fight in a bathroom.
The mid 1980s birthed a bizarre collection of pitch-black comedies like Re-Animator, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Evil Dead II and this film fits perfectly among these goofy, gory classics. While Street Trash is a little light on plot and character development, it excels at entertaining set-pieces that play as episodic bits filled with gallows humor and tons of over-the-top gory fun. There are moments of audacity that in lesser hands would be instantly rejected by audiences, but director Jim Muro keeps everything moving at a rapid pace and brings comedic timing to some of the most offensive bits. Muro has since moved on to an impressive career as one of the top Stedicam operators in the industry with an unbelievable resume.
Writer and producer Roy Frumkes (The Johnsons) is perhaps best known to genre fans as the man responsible for the legendary Document of the Dead, chronicling the making of George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. His script is relentless in its determination to entertain and while not every joke succeeds, he hits the mark more than he misses. Frumkes appears in a quick cameo as the melting business man.
The majority of the cast have only this one title on their resume and it frequently shows, yet there are a few standouts. Jane Arakawa holds her own in many a vile situation as Wendy, the put-upon secretary to the lecherous Frank, ably played by the late Pat Ryan (The Class of Nuke 'Em High). Some of the best comedic exchanges occur in the scenes between Mafioso Tony Darrow and the mouthy doorman played by Janes Lorinz (Frankenhooker). Darrow went on to enjoy success in Goodfellas as well as appearing in several Woody Allen pictures. The rest of the actors do a fine job in limited capacity but the film suffers from occasional lapses into extended dialogue that is simply out of their reach.
Street Trash is an acquired taste that is not for everyone. It is offensive, vile, disgusting and hilarious. Much has been written on the themes of the feature and what the director was saying about economic life in America, but the story works on face value. The deeper content is there if you look for it, but if audiences simply want to see the best melting bum movie ever made, then this works too. It has been a few years since I last watched this film and this time around I found the characters a bit more annoying, but the overall experience was still quite enjoyable and remains highly recommended.
Video and Audio:
Street Trash is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is quite crisp and clean, which speaks highly of the work at Synapse films. The original release date was pushed several months when a flaw was discovered in the original transfer. This new product is simply gorgeous. Colors are vibrant and black levels solid; particularly in the meltdown sequences. There is tremendous detail in small objects and the clarity of the dirt covering the cast is appropriately dingy.
Audio options include a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio mix and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 stereo track as well. The 5.1 mix improves the clarity of dialogue over the original stereo mix and opens up the music cues to the rear channels. Any limitations in presentation are likely a direct result of source elements. English subtitles are provided.
Synapse Films continue to bring the ruckus with another unbelievable amount of bonus content.
Previously released in 2005 as a 2-disc DVD special edition, this new Blu-ray carries over all previous material and offers a few new additions.
Starting things off are a pair of commentary tracks from director Jim Muro and producer Roy Frumkes. Of the two, Frumkes delivers the more entertaining comments as he shares countless stories about the production and doesn't hold back on salacious details. Muro takes a different approach and focuses on the technical aspects that went into making the film. Both are worth checking out, as they are highly informative to anyone with an interest in making a low-budget movie.
The center piece of the supplements is Frumkes’ extremely thorough documentary The Meltdown Memories that clocks in at just over 2 hours! Just about everyone involved with the making of the picture appears and the interviews are balanced with copious amounts of behind-the-scenes footage, audition material, make-up tests, storyboards and additional vintage material. This piece is worth the price of admission on its own and must be seen to be believed. One highlight includes the interview with a former production assistant who went from running food errands for this film to having an unexpectedly successful career in Hollywood.
The original 16mm short film version of Street Trash, created to gather investors for the feature-length version, is included. It follows the same basic storyline and hits the gory highlights along the way.
Newly commissioned extras include a brief interview (9 minutes) with lead actress Jane Arakawa, absent from the documentary and all previous releases of the film, listed simply as M.I.A. She reflects on her work in the film and discusses what she has been up to over the past two decades.
A collection of deleted scenes (8 minutes) offers a glimpse of additional content removed from the original three hour rough cut.
The original promotional teaser and theatrical trailer for the finished film round out the bonus materials on this disc.