Jesse is a freelance writer, journalist and occasional artist from Perth, Western Australia. He enjoys movies, video games and punk rock. You can see the inner-workings of his mind unfold on his blog
Published January 23rd 2013
Hey, you're melting all over my movie
Street Trash is a melt movie. By that I mean literally a movie in which people melt. That's the premise. It's vile and disgusting, but it's also colourful, hilarious, and arguably the best example of '80s sleaze cinema there is.
Jim Muro's trashy gem from 1987 is based around a dirty corner of lower Manhattan inhabited by the homeless. A store clerk finds a crate of old Tenafly Viper wine in his cellar and decides to sell it to the homeless for $1 a bottle. Little does he know, the liquor was pulled off the market for its side effects. So the bums in the area start buying the crazy-cheap hooch, and all it takes is one swig for them to be reduced to a gooey pile of technicolour mush.
Things start getting weird and we're introduced to all sorts of dirty characters. There's no real hero in Street Trash just a bunch of derelicts and sociopaths but the movie thrives on their quirky psychoses and therein lies much of its charm. Street Trash plays its villainous characters for laughs. There's rape jokes, necrophilia and a particular scene in which several characters play a cruel game of keep-away with another's penis. It's all depraved, but none of it unwelcome. The rape and necrophilia are only referenced at for the sake of comedy as opposed to exhibition and gratuity as in many other sleaze movies of the era.
Adding to the film's light-hearted depravity are the melt scenes. Street Trash is quite a bright movie especially for one with such a small budget but it's the melting scenes that really add some colour. And I mean that literally, because these scenes are a brilliantly bright show of disgusting makeup and effects. The skin of the victims of the Viper wine begins to turn to a paint-like substance of all sorts of neon colours and it's really great to watch. If there was only one major flaw with Street Trash it's that there are nowhere near enough of these scenes.
Street Trash is a dark, dirty joy from beginning to end. The epitome of '80s B-grade sleaze, it's the Troma movie that Troma never made. Depraved characters, grimy locations, wet and squishy gore effects and a black humour charm that'll put a deliciously sick smile on even the most dark-hearted horror fans. You can comfortably add it to your movie night fitting snuggly in between titles like Toxic Avenger and Hobo With a Shotgun.