Film Reviews:

Street Trash

(James Muro, US, 1987)

Jim Muro's low-budget film is an episodic but funny feature. It's also extremely gory. The title refers to the tramps living on the streets of lower Manhattan. The proprietor of a liqueur store in the seedy side of town is clearing out his basement when he finds a case containing a forty-year old concoction called Viper. To shift the dirty old stock, he knocks it out at a dollar a bottle to the local vagrants who regularly visit his store for liquid sustenance. It isn't long before the first bottle of Viper is consumed, it's drinker melting into a colourful puddle of bubbling slush!

That's about it plot wise, the scenario merely an excuse to set up a series of OTT special effects sequences. Quite what properties Viper has that make it resemble nuclear toxic waste is not explained but, then again, after the first fifteen minutes the narrative shifts to concentrate on the lives of the down-and-out community. For most of the film, various characters and sub-plots are developed and concluded, and for the final twenty minutes we return to the lethal Viper for the gross-out gore finale. Structurally, this closely resembles Brian Yuzna's Society. In both cases you can be sure there'd have been less padding and more gore if the budget would have allowed it. But filming people walking and talking comes much cheaper than filming them dissolving or exploding.

I'm sure I won't be telling you anything you couldn't already guess, when I say that the effects sequences provide the highlights of Street Trash. Some surprisingly good supporting actors and some nifty camera work by the director (Muro has a very impressive list of camera operator credits to his name including The Insider, Titanic, The Abyss, Terminator 2, Heat, Strange Days, True Lies, etc. etc.) stop the film from entering the boredom arena, with the director's sense of humour helping keep the interest up during the slower moments in the middle. The 'melt' effects are well executed (assisted by some neat editing) for the obviously modest budget, and the exploding fat tramp is particularly grotesque! Make sure you watch the film to the end of the closing credits to see the final melt scene and hear the Italian gangster's unforgettable rendition of My Way. The Toxic Avenger meets Bad Taste and comes recommended.

Rob Dyer

A-Z of Film Reviews