Growing up in a small town in California in the 1980's and into the 90's with nothing to do, I existed on a steady diet of TV and books. Street Trash is one of those movies that would show up occasionally and piqued my interest because it seemed like something of the Troma variety. In fact, one could look at it as the best film that studio never made. I do recall the film looking rather grungy and beat up, so seeing it uncut and presented so beautifully was a bit of a shock. Who knew this little movie could look this fantastic? Let's take a trip to the junk yard, shall we?
The biggest bum fest this side of John Waters' Desperate Living, Street Trash tells the happy tale of a liquor store owner just trying to make a living and a group of local homeless people trying to keep the peace in their community with everything against them. Ed (M. D'Jango Krunch) finds an old case of liquor in the back of his store one day, dusts it off and decides to sell it for a dollar a bottle. Why not? Well, because it kills you is why not! After the Viper is consumed, the victim is melted from within in crazy day-glow colors and the effects work is quite impressive.
Fred (Mike Lackey) is the lead character is this misfit menagerie. Living in a junk yard with a bunch of friends, he is the one to blow the whistle on this problem plaguing his community. There's also Bronson (Vic Noto), who has claimed himself the king of the hill in the yard, Burt (Clarenze Jarmon) a man who will steal anything in sight, his younger brother Kevin (Mark Sferrazza) who is in love with an employee at the yard named Wendy (Jane Arakawa).
A film this broad, it's difficult at times to sum up the talent. Frumkes' script and Muro's directing asks the actors in question to do any and say any number of bizarre things. For the most part they pull it off quite well. Mike Lackey makes a likeable hero, and Sferrazzaa as his brother is sympathetic. However, it's Vic Noto as Bronson, the nearly brutish Vietnam Vet-cum-master of the muck who steals the show. His performance is so big and crazy, I wish the film would have delved more into him and had fewer things going on. There are a few bit parts that are fun to spot some “recognizable” faces in. Screenwriter Frumkes becomes a victim of the Viper from above as a pedestrian, and star of John Waters' Polyester, Joni-Ruth White, shows up as a supermarket customer in a fun scene with Clarenze Jarmon.
Street Trash fans, stand up and cheer! Don May Jr. and company deserve some major kudos for their work in putting this package together. From the natural skin tones to the crazy day-glo melting corpses, the image is always stable, with nary the image fluctuation one would expect from a film shot with such limited means. The transfer's detail is so abundant, it exposes some of the seams in the effects, but it's a minor quibble when the movie looks this great.
Another round of applause for Synapse in the extras department. What isn't on this disc? The big one here is a feature length "making of" documentary, including all the major players called. From concept, to screen and beyond, it's all here. The film's screenwriter and documentarian Roy Frumkes, also responsible for the Romero doc Document of the Dead, has put together a two hour show that will make any fan happy.
Two commentaries keep the info and entertainment coming. The first is with Roy Frumkes going solo and he's got a lot to say as someone who has been with the project since day one. The second commentary sees the film's director, J. Michael Muro, discussing the more day-to-day aspects of making the film with a lot of technical insights on production. Both commentaries are worth a listen, but Frumkes is far more entertaining. Street Trash, a short film that inspired the feature, is next and it's easy to see how one grew into the other. In fact, watching this solidifies my impression that the feature is just too much. An interview with actress Jane Arakawa is a relaxed chat. The actress doesn't recall a whole lot about the film it seems, but is happy to catch the audience up on her other accomplishments. A series of deleted scenes, a theatrical trailer and a teaser wrap things up.
Ah the 1980's, a cinematic wasteland of mutant janitors, alien pets from outer space, and really awful hairdos. Movies like this appeal to my nostalgic side, but prove that some things should remain in one's childhood. J. Michael Muro and Roy Frumkes' goofy and scattershot horror/comedy tries to be too much and doesn't succeed at anything much other than being “shocking” at times. There are simply too many characters and plots to hold onto much. Yet, I do respect the work here, it's obvious the film was made with love. Synapse Films has put together a package that will make any Street Trash fan happy and the new Blu-ray transfer is nothing short of gorgeous.
Film Score: 2/5 Disc Score: 4/5