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Street Trash (DVD)

Starring Mike Lackey, Bill Chepil, Marc Sferrazza

Directed by James Muro

Released by Synapse Films


Beautiful.

It’s probably not a word that is thrown at Street Trash very often; yet, the recent DVD release from Synapse begs for the use of this one word.

What other words can you use to describe a movie like this?

Street Trash has just been set loose upon the world by the aforementioned folks at Synapse Films. The barebones DVD has little on it aside from the movie and a trailer, but for some reason when taking the content into consideration, it’s enough. Synapse had made quite a big deal out of the “Totally Uncut High-Definition 16:9 Transfer from the Original Negative,” and with good reason.

Street Trash has a faithful fan base, people who love the film and either own the laserdisc release, a poor VHS copy, or a bastard-child copy, so the new release is important news for those fans. The transfer of the film is clean, clear, and shockingly good. I was never unfortunate enough to have to watch this film in any other format, but I have seen enough “lost” cult films in my time on VHS tape or disc bootlegs to get an idea what any previous versions of Street Trash may have looked like, and that is why I am just astounded at the quality of the transfer Synapse was able to get.

The movie itself is a visual feast of color and movement. It is the sheer raving mad genius stuff that creeps up once in a while from long ago and screams to be heard again. Obviously those involved with Street Trash were touched by the hand of Raimi. The film appears to be a spawn of Evil Dead II — from the use of Raimi-Cam homages to multi-colored gore. Such does not lessen the impact or effect of the film however; instead it seems to give it a history or ancestry. Similar touches can cheapen most other films. Street Trash becomes bolstered by it. It takes that raw ferocity, bottles it, and forces you to drink.

One has to wonder if Peter Jackson was influenced by this assault on the eyes when he was in the midst of creating Meet the Feebles and Braindead. The reckless splatterpunk common denominator carries through all the films. They exist on the same plane.

Street Trash is the story of two runaways living in a junkyard and the eclectic group of derelict humans that accompany them on their daily journeys. This hodgepodge also includes, but is not limited to, the people who own and operate the junkyard, the local law enforcement, a gang of local mobsters, a doorman with loose lips, a mob girlfriend with a different set of loose lips, and a liquor store owner who seems to think that all wine gets better with age. The cast and range of Street Trash approach epic proportions. The movie wants to be about a dangerous batch of cheap liquor that, when sold to the bums for a dollar apiece, makes those who consume it melt or explode.

Ultimately, however, Street Trash isn’t happy with that small of a scope. It refuses to remain that simple. It wants to be more, and while this would play off in other films as distracting, for some reason in Street Trash it works. Like a poor man’s Arabian Nights, the film diverges into 1000 little subplots that interweave in odd manners. One has to wonder if it was all planned like this or if the celluloid gods granted a group of talented filmmakers a reprieve for being just so enthusiastic.

In its short 107 minutes we are treated to:

Stereotyping of every race, class, and societal group!
Vietnam flashbacks and post traumatic stress meltdowns!
Rape and necrophilia!
Chicken shoplifting with pants!
Penile hot potato!
And, best of all, gore as if it were done by Monet!

When we see the explosion of gore, it is not the red meaty stuff of reality; we get green, blue, yellow, and orange. It swirls and dances on the screen in screaming agony. Imagine if Edvard Munch’s The Scream came to life and was unable to be supported in this atmosphere. Imagine the paint dripping down the canvas face of the creature…

All of this captured by the enchanted direction of Jim Muro. His camera work is thoughtful, well placed, and seems much more professional than would be expected for a feature such as this. Extreme camera movements; deep angled shots; and long, well-framed takes are seen in abundance and with frequency within the span of the film. It is no surprise that Muro went on to become one of James Cameron’s most trusted cameramen. The talent is plain and simple in this film.

David Sperling’s cinematography showcases the attention to detail brought out by Robert Marcucci’s production design. The two work hand-in-hand to lift the film above itself. There is not a frame in the film that does not have the attention to detail to make what could have been a barren set look full and alive. The settings and the way they are captured make for a misplaced bit of realism in a film where reality plays so little a part. The only comparison I can conjure is that of certain styles of animation where the background is exquisitely intricate with the characters in the foreground simple.

The characters being destroyed in Street Trash are far from identifiable or sympathetic, but in keeping with the chosen tone, they are cartoon characters in a looney toon of gooey goodness. The actors are more than able to pull off the quirky roles they are offered. The eccentricity of the people highlights the color of their deaths and the overall look of the film, which is bright and kept well lit. Nothing is hidden in Street Trash. It’s all set out in the sun for you to see.

Street Trash is not about trying to better the world or making any statements; it’s about having fun. The rabbit hole it goes down is not very deep. There are no ulterior motives, no pretense. The movie, as immersive as it is, tries not to be any bigger or smaller than it needs to be. Enjoying what used to be a genre that could just sit back and make fun of itself and the world that it existed within without having to worry about upsetting everyone and their grandmother. I guess with a film such as Street Trash we could use another word to describe it as well: Unapologetic.


4 out of 5

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DW Bostaph Jr