Fans of Troma films are a different breed entirely. These folks are willing to overlook the little things (like acting, editing, dubbing, and a quality story) and embrace the more subtle nuances of cinema, like how wet a fart sounds, why that girl pees standing up, or how much blood can be squeezed out of one human body. I’ve never been a big fan of these films, but, from what I’ve seen, Street Trash is a film that would be right up a Troma fans urine-soaked little alley. This is a stomach churning, laugh-out-loud funny, and enormously silly little picture that plays like the bastard step-cousin of The Toxic Avenger; a gross-out picture with an extra dollop of nasty.
Set in a city where the homeless run wild, assaulting passers-by and shaking each other down for money and booze, the world of Street Trash is a hopeless wasteland of trash-filled streets, condemned buildings, and salvage yard cities ruled by a sociopathic Vietnam vet named Bronson. While the weaker willed bums cater to Bronson’s every whim, homeless brothers Freddy (Lackey) and Kevin (Sferrazza) still have enough wits about them to steer clear of the derelict dictator, and make do on their own. Still, it’s a rough game, and Freddy finds himself running afoul of Bronson when he steals some of the shakedown money from another bum, and decides he needs to drown his sorrows with a bottle of cheap hooch from the local liquor store. Meanwhile, the owner of the store has recently unearthed a case of sixty year old wine called Tenafly Viper that he figures will sell like hotcakes to the locals, especially at a buck a bottle, completely unaware that this particular brand of “rotgut” lives up to its name in spectacularly gory fashion.
There’s literally so much going on in Street Trash that I found it darned near impossible to follow. Then again, maybe I wasn’t supposed to be able to follow it at all, as the film seems to simply serve as an excuse to tie one over-the-top sequence to the next. From the colorful and gruesome meltdowns of the Tenafly Viper victims to a surreal game of keep away that involves a man’s recently severed penis, Street Trash is easily amongst the vilest and most depraved films I have ever witnessed. It’s also quite a hoot, and amazingly well put together. While I made comparisons to the Troma titles of the late 80’s, Street Trash is a far more accomplished looking film, with great camera work and spectacularly disgusting special effects. While the acting is purely amateur hour, this isn’t exactly a Merchant/Ivory production, and director James Muro wisely focuses on the sight gags and “action”.
Synapse Films brings Street Trash to gloriously gooey life on Blu-ray after a very eventful DVD release a few years back, where the film’s bow was held up by some unforeseen circumstances that resulted in a staggered release featuring one essentially bare bones version of the film, followed shortly thereafter by a feature-packed two-disc edition. Now, with this Blu-ray release, Synapse is finally able to release the one, definitive version of Street Trash they aimed to get out there all along.
First thing’s first; Street Trash is a low-budget exploitation splatter flick from the late 80s, so don’t expect a transfer on par with Transformers or Avatar. It just ain’t gonna happen, dig? Now, that being said, this extremely cheap little flick looks positively AMAZING on Blu-ray, with a crisp and impressively detailed 1.85:1 transfer. Fans of Hobo with a Shotgun will immediately see similarities in the film’s colorful aesthetic, as Street Trash is awash with all manner of vibrant, surreal lighting that lends the film an almost cartoonish quality that translates beautifully to HD. Synapse’s wonderfully restored DVD transfer impressed the hell out of me, but the work they did on this Blu-ray is nothing short of miraculous, especially if, like me, you remember what this thing looked like on ratty VHS!
Synapse offers up two audio choices; a purist 2.0 track and a 5.1 mix. The 5.1 mix is quite good, with nice separation, and clear dialogue, but, for me, the 2.0 track wins out due to sheer volume and adherence to the film’s lineage. This is an 80s cheapie of mono origins, so, for me, the 2.0 track just sounds “right”.
As previously mentioned, Street Trash was released in two versions – the bare bones DVD, and the two disc Meltdown Edition, after which this set is named. The extras from that set are carried over here, but Synapse also manages to drum up a few new features made exclusively for this release! Bonus goodies include;
• Two Audio Commentaries Featuring Producer Roy Frumkes and Director James Muro
• THE MELTDOWN MEMOIRS – Feature Length Documentary on the History and Making of STREET TRASH
• The Original STREET TRASH 16mm Short Film That Inspired the Movie
• The Original STREET TRASH Promotional Teaser
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• ALL-NEW BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES: Jane Arakawa Video Interview and Deleted Scenes!
• Create Your Own Bottle of “Tenafly Viper” Wine with the Enclosed Label Sticker!
If you’re a fan of Street Trash and already own the Meltdown Edition DVD, you may be on the fence about whether or not it’s worth upgrading. True, the new features may not make it an essential purchase, but those, combined with the jaw-dropping transfer, surely merit serious consideration! For those who’ve yet to see the film, consider this the definitive edition, and, if you’re a fan of gross-out horror farces, this is definitely one of the best examples of that sick little sub-genre. Recommended!