"To alcohol; the cause of AND solution to all of life's problems" - Homer J. Simpson
The above quote couldn't be more accurate of the film 'Street Trash'. A vile beverage that causes those who partake to melt, and parts of your body just fall off. Well normally that would equal a pretty grotesque movie, but here we have people melting into neon reds, blues, greens, and yellows.
This review will be a little bit different as this viewing of 'Street Trash' was at the wonderful Coolidge Corner Theater, and they have the fantastic local metal band Sexcrement kicking off the evening.
Sexcrement started the evening off right at midnight with an awesome set. I've seen these guys a few times in the past, and they were just as enjoyable as ever. A little weird seeing them in a seated arrangement. Kind of like sitting during Slayer at Ozzfest. I'd imagine most of the people who watch films like 'Street Trash' like extreme metal, but I'd also think there were some people who were appalled at the music. Those are the people who classify Disturbed, and Godsmack as metal. Ugh.
After they finished up their set, assistant program manager Mark Anastasio introduced the film with a contest for a DVD of 'Street Trash' and some original lobby cards provided by the writer/producer, Roy Frumkes. Three (un)lucky contestants volunteered for a contest to drink some homemade Tenafly Viper, the drink causing people to melt. The goal between the three contestants was to see who could finish their respective drinks the fastest. In a 1, 2, 3 order they all finished their drinks, and walked away with prizes from The Coolidge. Not only can you see rare, and great films you can also get free shit.
With that the lights dimmed, and a few trailers for some coming attractions. Next weekend the classic 'Critters' will be eating its way to the cinema, and the trailer for the bat-shit crazy looking 'The Last Circus'. All I know about 'Last Circus' is that it's about clowns who murder. Sounds good to me.
The film begins in the desolate wastelands of suburban New York. Hobos rule the streets, and will do most anything to stay drunk and alive. Local liquor store owner Ed finds a sealed crate in the bottom of his basement, and notices that it's been a liquor that hasn't been sold for almost 60 years, Tenafly Viper. All sorts of characters run into Ed's liquor store, and one is Fred who is the antagonist of the film. Fred and his younger brother Kevin have been runaways for a few years, and it's been especially hard on Kevin. The boys live in a junkyard in a makeshift tire house. Very time consuming, but they probably paid other hobos in booze to help.
The junkyard is not a free place though, and is ruled by Bronson, a Vietnam vet who had some pretty fucked experiences as a hitman. All booze, and cash are brought to him by the dozens of homeless troops. With Ed selling the Viper for only $1 it's an easy sale for those who don't have much to spend. The drink however, might have been spoiled as any internal consumption causes melting and or exploding. Something tells me this product was not FDA approved.
This movie is one of the reasons I started this blog. From the first time I saw this on VHS when I was a youngin', I was entranced by the brutal imagery, and yet laughing my fucking ass off with the tongue-in-cheek black humor. The acting is one of the things that really shines for me here. Everyone looks to be loving their role, and enjoying the absurdity of the premise. The direction by Jim Muro is fantastic. One of my all-time favorite shots in any movie is when a steady-cam is used to maneuver through the rubble of a building to highlight the hobo melting into a toilet. It's a pretty iconic cult image.
Then there's the special effects. These are some of my favorite low budget effects outside of Troma Entertainment, and that to me is a huge compliment. We see people melt all over the place; toilets, sidewalks, and even a guy exploding! It's all very funny, and allows for a very enjoyable film. Even though this is a movie focusing on the melting we are also given an impressive villain in junkyard warlord, Bronson. Bronson was a Vietnam vet who is experiencing very HEAVY flashbacks. You can tell he's not all there, and the portrayal by Vic Noto is really intense.
I cannot endorse 'Street Trash' highly enough. It's offensive, violent, hysterical, and great fun! I was very pleased to be able to see the original print at The Coolidge Corner Theater, and hope this won't be the last time on the big screen. 'Street Trash' is available on DVD from Synapse Films, and comes in the spectacular Meltdown Edition which contains a two-hour documentary. Easily one of the best documentaries I've seen as a bonus feature, and the work that went into it really shows.
Later this week check out my interview with assistant program manager, Mark Anastasio about the work that goes into tracking these prints down, and his love for 35mm!