• Street Trash (88 Films)

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: October 23rd, 2017.
    Director: Jim Muro
    Cast: Mike Lackey, Bill Chepil, Marc Sferrazza, Jane Arakawa, Nicole Potter, Pat Ryan
    Year: 1987

    The Movie:

    Somewhere in the ghettos of New York City, a low rent liquor store sells cheap booze to the homeless population that thrives in the area and calls the nearby junkyard home. When the owner of the store decides to clean the place up for once, he pulls open a vent at the back of the store and comes across a long forgotten box of mysterious liquor adorned with labels declaring it to be “Tenefly Viper.” Without so much as a second thought about what this stuff might really be, he decides to unload it on the derelicts in the area at a rock bottom price – anything to make a buck, right?

    Cut to three young men living in the aforementioned junkyard who have run away from home – Fred (Mike Lockey), his younger brother Kevin (Bill Chepil) and their good buddy Burt (Clarenze Jarman). Unfortunately for these three guys, the junkyard that makes their abode is watched over by an insane Viet Nam vet named Bronson (Vic Noto) who shakes down some of the weaker and more timid bums for money to spend on booze.

    Fred heads on over to the liquor store one day and without even a dollar to his name, he manages to pick up a bottle of the Tenefly Viper using the ol’ five finger discount. Before Fred gets a chance to chug down his new found bottle of booze, it’s stolen from him by a bum he stops to talk to on the way back home. The thief runs off with the booze and heads on into an abandoned building to get away from it all and enjoy a little sip while he drops his pants and sits down on the toilet to do what nature told him he should do. Rather than be treated to a relaxing and boozy bowel movement, after a swig or two he starts to convulse and soon after that, his body starts to melt and eventually he finds himself a new home in the sewers of the city.

    As more and more of the homeless population are exposed to the cheap booze available at their local liquor store, more people wind up dead and soon enough the police are called in to investigate things. An aggressive and none too smart cop named Bill takes on the case but he’s clueless as to why bums are exploding into gooey messes. To make matters worse, the mob gets involved in the whole mess and things get about as complicated as you’d expect them to when you’ve got an overload of whacked out characters running around and exploding as you do here.

    Street Trash is a mess from start to finish – a big, ugly, multicolored mess of a film – and it’s hard not to love every second of it. As a point of comparison, you can think of Street Trash as the greatest Troma movie ever made, though Troma had nothing to do with it. All the gleeful mayhem and tasteless sex, violence, gore and crass humor usually associated with Lloyd Kaufman and company’s better films is in this one in spades and the whole thing is one big exercise in bad taste. When that exercise in bad taste is as much fun as it is here, and the gore comes so fast and in such a plentiful quantity, well, it’s hard not to love it. At times it’s reminiscent of Peter Jackson’s first few films – it goes for the lowest common denominator and it hits it dead in the eye in much the same way that Bad Taste does, and in fact, at times it easily tops it.

    Highlights of the film include some bums playing football with a man’s severed unit, the toilet explosion, vomiting cops, sex with a woman covered in puke, and all manner of bums dissolving and/or exploding into piles of human goo. Written by Roy Frumkes of Document Of The Dead fame, the story wisely decides to emphasize the shock value of its set pieces rather than rely on the cast of more or less unknown (and inexperienced) performers to deliver the goods. Acting isn’t the film’s strong point, nor is the dialogue or the plot development – watch this one for the gore. Speaking of the gore, the makeup effects, when you take into account the low budget with which the film was made, are actually pretty solid. None of them are really all that realistic but they suit the over the top ‘comic book gone bad’ tone of the movie very well. It would seem that the filmmakers certainly spared no expense when it came to the oozing bodily fluids and exploding appendages used throughout the film.

    Directed with a reasonable amount of style by Jim Muro (who would later move to Hollywood where he’d work as a on such blockbusters as Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Chronicles Of Riddick, Casino and X-Men 2 as a steadi-cam operator), Street Trash is low budget schlock at its best. Presented here in its most complete form with a one hundred and two minute running time, the film never feels padded or slow and there’s always enough going on, even if it doesn’t always make sense, to ensure that the film is consistently entertaining and a whole lot of big dumb fun.


    Street Trash looks great on Blu-ray presented here in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.78.1 widescreen on a 50GB disc with the feature taking up over 30GBs of space. Detail is considerably improved in pretty much every way over the already very nice looking standard definition release and the colors look phenomenal. There are no issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement problems nor are there any obvious compression issues. Skin tones look nice and lifelike, black levels are solid, and the movie looks far better here in high definition than most will probably expect it to. At the same time, there’s enough grain present that the movie’s low budget charms aren’t washed away and the gritty aesthetic that’s part of the film’s tone remains untouched.

    How does it compare to the Synapse Films Blu-ray release from a few years back? It appears to be the same transfer – some quick screen cap comparisons with the 88 Films release up top and the Synapse Films release beneath it:

    Audio options are offered up in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and DTS-HD Mono in English only with optional English subtitles provided. Both tracks sound excellent, with the 5.1 mix obviously spreading things out more than the mono track, but doing so respectfully and without making the effects sound forced or phony. Clarity and balance is rock solid regardless of which option you go for and both tracks are free of any hiss or distortion. Dialogue is always easy to understand, the score sounds nice (the 5.1 track really brings this out) and the effects are as gooey and gory sounding as you could hope for.

    Extras? First up is a pair of audio commentary tracks, the first of which is from writer/producer Roy Frumkes who explains what he did as a producer to raise money for the film, in addition to some interesting casting and location shooting stories. He goes on to tell us that the liquor store used in the movie was an actual liquor store and about how some of the actors wrote some of their own dialogue. This is a very active, very detailed commentary as Roy tells us all manner of things like how the sunlight is noticeable one shot where it shouldn't be and how graffiti artists were hired to 'color up' the area. Frumkes explains how he wanted each melt gag to differ from the others, and points out his own appearance in the film. He's got stories about everything from old corpses found in sleeping bags to effects work to minutia like 'hey there's my girlfriend from the time' in a shot. As the movie plays out Frumkes also explains what was cut out of certain versions and tells us what a lot of the cast members are up to now. Frumkes comes across as a very friendly and knowledgeable guy and his memories of the shoot and the project prove to be entertaining and enlightening in the way that all commentaries should be but rarely are.

    The second commentary is courtesy of director James Muro who starts things off by telling us how he wanted to, with this film, bring us into the world of the winos. Right away you realize Muro's commentary is going to be more technical as he starts into covering steady cam shots and the like. He's not quite as animated as Frumkes is during his talk but he still covers a lot of ground and tells us about set dressing certain scenes as well as how certain shots were handled. He delivers some great trivia about the cast members as the movie plays out and he points out little details that the average viewer probably won't pick up on and he also spends some time explaining what happens on screen which makes this talk very scene specific at times. Muro snickers a lot during his talk which is kind of infectious as you really can't help but laugh at a lot of the material in Street Trash. The highlights of his talk are the more technical aspects where he covers how some of the effects work was done on a fairly low budget and how some of the camera work was handled. Rounding out the extra features on the first disc is the original theatrical trailer for the film as well as animated menus and chapter stops.

    Also found here is Roy Frumkes' amazing two hour documentary on the making of the film entitled The Meltdown Memoirs. It starts off with a pre-school aged little girl laughing at the movie, then crying once the penis flies through the air! Frumkes shows up and puts things into context by explaining what he was doing at the time that the movie was made, and what his film career had entailed to that point.

    He tells how he met Jim Muro and Mike Lackey (who does his interviews here in a Gwar shirt!) who were both students in his class, and he talks about how he got to know them. They cover how the 16mm version came to be and how a junkie they had cast didn't show up and how Lackey was cast in the lead instead. There's some great vintage footage of Muro from 1985 here, talking about the film, and Denise Labelle explains how she got roped into working as the art director on the film. Frumkes narrates the piece and keeps things pretty tight, explaining various aspects of the script and how certain actors dealt with the material by improving parts of their performances. There are some great stories in here, including one about how a pig's head almost ruined a shot and how a certain character got a little too into things with a butter knife. Frumkes interviews pretty much everyone involved with the production (Jane Arakawa being the exception) and leaves no stone unturned. We see some great behind the scenes footage and photographs in here and most of the interviews take place at Street Trash inspired locations like in front of dumpsters and the like.

    The documentary also does a really good job of covering the marketing of the movie and how the producers went about trying to get people to notice the movie and hook the audience into wanting to see it. They talk about the poster art and the trailers and what they were trying to get across with these marketing materials - this isn't something that you see in a lot of 'making of' documentaries and it actually turns out to be pretty fascinating stuff. Lightning Pictures and Vestron's involvement is covered as the distribution is covered, and there are some revealing stories told here about that company. Frumkes wraps things up nicely by telling us what happened to almost all of the people who were involved in Street Trash and what they're up to now and it's really surprising to learn where a lot of these people drifted to and how they make their livings now.

    At just over two hours in length (make sure you sit through the end credits if you want to hear someone use term 'You drive like my ass!'), this is a fantastic piece that runs longer than the movie itself! Anything you could possibly want to know about Street Trash is covered either here or in the commentary tracks and the amount of material contained here is, quite simply, exhaustive in the best way possible.

    Also look out for the original Street Trash promotional teaser which was created to generate interest from investors after the 16mm version was shot. It's in rough shape, taken from an old VHS tape, but it's very cool to see this two-minute and twenty-eight second promo spot as its' very different than the theatrical trailer, also included here. Complimenting this is the original 16mm version of Street Trash, which clocks in at just over fifteen-minutes in length. The 16mm photography is much grainier than the theatrical version of the film and so it has a much rougher look to it but it's neat to see it and compare what stayed the same and what differed from the feature length version of the movie. The junkyard and inner city locations are still there as are the multitude of transients used in the cast and the basic story is more of less identical but there are some variations here which makes this well worth a look.

    Also on hand is a nine minute long interview with actress Jane Arakawa. She wasn’t found in the Meltdown Memoirs documentary so it’s pretty great to see her pop up here talking about the film’s cult status, her experiences working on the picture and what it was like working on the film.

    88 Films also supplies a collection of five deleted scenes. Though these were sourced from a tape and aren’t in amazing shape, it’s still very cool to see them included here. Look for Frumkes himself appearing in one of them!

    All of these extras are ported over from the aforementioned Synapse special edition Blu-ray release. Included on this 88 Films disc but not on the Synapse disc is a featurette entitled A Conversation Between Roy Frumkes and Tony Timpone wherein the director and the former editor of Fangoria that runs just over nineteen minutes. It starts off with Timpone talking how his house flooded and got to his Fangoria back issues and DVD collection, from there Timpone talks about his freelancing career, how he became aware of Street Trash when it was shooting after hearing about it from someone who came into his family’s deli and more. Frumkes talks about the non-union shoot and some of the difficulties entailed in it, his work on The Substitute movies and more.

    Menus and chapter stops are also included, of course, as is some nice reversible cover art. Inside the clear keepcase is an insert booklet containing a seven page essay on the film by Calum Waddell entitled Street Trash: To Laugh Or Barf? that discusses the rise and effectiveness of various horror comedy pictures and how they’ve evolved over the years. A slipcover is also included with this release.

    The Final Word:

    Street Trash is, was, and always will be a whole lot of nasty gory fun. This Blu-ray release from 88 Films is very similar to the previous Blu-ray release from Synapse, showcasing what appears to be an identical – and excellent - presentation but throwing in a few extras not found on that earlier disc.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!