By Breanna Whipple
CALGARY — Submerged in a world of trashy chaos, two runaway kids find themselves living in an auto salvage yard on the border of Brooklyn and Queens. Seeking comfort in wasteland suburbia, the pair is faced with not only the junkyard’s angry owner, but a derelict gang of winos and their sadistic commander king, Bronson. To make matters worse, suspicion has been raised in a determined cop after a civilian is sadistically slaughtered by one of the savage hobos. His manhunt becomes gruelling as the homeless populous dwindles after consuming Tenafly Viper, a cheap rotgut that melts the consumer into fluorescent slime.
Uncommon within the typically slow burning ooze genre, Street Trash (1987) is paced like a slasher film in terms of kills. Although the body count is largely owed to the fatal hooch, abstaining from toxic liquor is not always a saviour to the victims of this film. Femur bones become deadly weapons and other unlikely instruments of death result in one of the most creative decapitations in cinematic history. Remarkable special affects are more than deserving of praise for producing a self combustion scene that rivals the infamous head eruption in David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981). Dripping from high places, and more potent than Brundlefly’s own in The Fly (1986), accidental contact with the acidic slime is also an unfortunate end met by some.
Much like The Toxic Avenger (1984), the film has an outlandish story line, toxic substances, and junkyard settings, allowing it to connect with many films in the Troma-verse. However unlike many within the horror genre, Street Trash has a strong gang-oriented backbone, allowing comparison to the villainous street gangs in films such as Savage Streets (1984), and Death Wish 3 (1985), the latter of which stars Charles Bronson, whose surname is shared with the barbaric king of the winos. Closest in paralleling the homeless gang dynamic was encapsulated in John Carpenter’s film of the same year, Prince Of Darkness (1987). Not afraid to follow classic action formulas, Bronson is a crazy Vietnam vet and would not have been out of place in the post-apocalyptic flick Mad Max (1979). Another element more common within the action genre is the intimate progression of a powerful cop in his manhunt, the variation of perspective effectively creates entertainment and suspense.
As much as one can connect Street Trash to other unique examples in the cinematic universe, the influence it has projected on the slime genre is of greater significance. Inspiration by the toxicity of the deadly rotgut is displayed in the following year’s Slime City (1988), in which the plot centres around tainted yogurt that turns its consumers into slime. Slime City Massacre (2010), the aforementioned film’s sequel, even features a bottle of Tenafly Viper. Paving the careers for many involved, James Lorinz, who starred as the negligent doorman, went on to star as the leading role in Frank Henenlotter’s strikingly fluorescent horror comedy, Frankenhooker (1990). Even the usage of a dismembered penis for comedic relief was reinstated in Beyond Re-Animator (2003), in which the re-animated penis battles a rat.
Street Trash was Jim Muro’s directorial debut and would be his only full-length feature film. Building a career dominated by his cinematographic skills, his talent is clearly shown in the 91-minute slime fest. The unexpected beauty of flesh rotting away into neon goop is truly astounding, adding a pleasant touch to the otherwise deeply depraved nature of the picture. Featuring controversial elements of gang rape, genital mutilation and necrophilia, Street Trash pushes the boundaries of black comedy, allowing it to boast a high rank within the genre.
Street Trash plays on Sept. 11 at the Globe Cinema. The film starts at midnight and tickets are $10 at the door.AB, Alberta, Globe Cinema, Night Terrors Film Society, Street Trash