Thursday, June 26, 2014

'Street Trash' (Movie Review)

It's difficult to make a great movie with absolutely no redeeming qualities. That's why Street Trash is such a rare gem. Director Jim Muro, who would later go on to be the Steadicam operator for every movie EVER helmed this filthy masterpiece in 1987. It's vile, offensive, hilarious, and one of my favorites of all time in the genre.

Lets rewind to the year 1998. MP3's had just been created, George Michael was arrested at a truck stop, and I was working at the local mom&pop video store. In the dankest reaches of the "Cult Cinema" section, there was a VHS tape labelled Street Trash. I unassumingly brought this movie over to my friends place for our weekly friday night video marathon, not realizing what would ensue. After a single showing, Street Trash was instantly catapulted to the top of our "Dude, holy SH*T you need to watch this!" list. It was so gross, ludicrous, and downright awful that it immediately stole our crappy teenage hearts.

Street Trash really isn't about anything. Anything...except LIQUOR THAT MELTS HOBOS. Booze shop owner Frank finds an old sealed box containing "Tenefly Viper", some hooch he begins selling for a buck a pop. Turns out it has the nasty side-effect of melting anyone who drinks it from the inside out in a technicolor acid explosion. Scrapyard kid Freddy steals a bottle of the stuff, and unwittingly gets himself and his little brother wrapped up in a war against Bronson, a psychotic war veteran who is king of the bums and also a cannibal. What follows is total insanity, and multiple elaborate death scenes featuring eye-scorching rainbow goo.

Seriously, the special effects in this movie are just awesome. The fact that they went with insanely bright neon gore fluids instead of blood is genius, and it's a testament to the zeitgeist of sleazy 1980's shock cinema. Keep in mind this movie is also a snapshot of "Pre-Giulianni" New York City, where murderous vagrants and CHUD's hung out near the peep show booths.

Gratuitous slime Muppet FX aside, Street Trash really sets the bar high (or low?) as an equal opportunity offender. It sets back every race, religion, and minority social group back roughly 3 decades. However, it delivers everything in a wash of ridiculous slapstick comedy that actually makes it endearing in a terrible way. So many of today's "shock films" come off as mean-spirited; pushing boundaries of good taste just for the sake of it. Street Trash approaches everything with the mentality of a 3rd grader. Besides the notorious "severed penis football game", there is a scene where an obese man has sex with a corpse, and it's scored by humorous xylophone music. Street Trash treats necrophilia like a knock knock joke.

If you're at all interested in exploitation cinema from the 1980's, or like movies that make you feel like an awful person for enjoying them, then you really owe it to yourself to watch Street Trash at least once. It's fantastic, and oddly overlooked even in today's internet landscape where the most obscure films find a following. I'd personally recommend the "Meltdown Edition" DVD or Blu-ray that includes a great documentary and some stickers. Everybody loves stickers!

Grade: A+
Reviewed via DVD. Running Time 91 MIN.


  1. I remember renting this from one of northeast Philadelphia's many Blockbuster predecessors in the early 90's and loving it. If I recall, we picked it up along with a copy of "The Gore Gore Girls." I will take the image of the melting drunk oozing into the outdoor toilet to my mausoleum.

    Definitely in the "so bad it's great" category. Thanks for taking me down the slime-covered memory lane.

  2. Same here. After finding it on the dusty bottom shelf of the "cult cinema" section, the VHS tape got watched so many times it began to wear out. Actually, it was odd re-visiting the movie all these years later on DVD where it had been digitally re-mastered. I was so used to the "VHS griminess" that it just felt like part of the movie to me.

  3. It's like using film to shoot a movie: for some films, there's nothing quite like the older forms of media. It really is a shame that future horror fans will never know the dark, almost illicit delight of physically going to a video store and searching through the lesser-known shelves for a video you just know is going to be bad.