Street Trash (1987)
Grindhouse Cinema. If you’re reading this blog then I bet you’ve heard of it. But for younger readers who think this is only the title of a joint venture between Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez then let me take a second and talk about this genre. Grindhouse flicks are, simply put, exploitation flicks that contain all or any of the following elements: Loads of nudity; excessive violence; explicit and extreme gore; and plots based on ideas that the mainstream wouldn’t dare make a movie about.
“Grindhouse” is actually the name of the kinds of theaters that would show such expoitation films. Grindhouse theaters were named after the burlesque theaters on 42nd Street in New York that went outta business. These burlesque houses were called “bump and grind” houses due to the striptease and other acts that went on inside. Ergo, “Grindhouse.” When the burlesque houses went tits up in the late 1950’s, the owners decided to try and save their businesses by turning them into movie houses. But they couldn’t compete against the chain movie theaters that were already popping up all over the country. Their solution was to show something that audiences couldn’t get anywhere else: Hardcore exploitation flicks. And viola; an era was born!!
I’ve already reviewed some great exploitation flicks that played in grindhouses: Basket Case (see review here);
Cannibal Ferox (see review here); and Emanuelle in America (see review here). These are all pretty extreme movies with excessive gore and very non-mainstream plots. And now we can add another one to the grindhouse category: 1987’s Street Trash. Hell, the name alone screams out “exploitation”!!
Directed by Jim Muro, Street Trash is one sleazy, gooey, depraved flick that goes above and beyond the genre. There’s not one likable character that you can relate to (at least I hope you can’t), and it at times gets weighed down by its own off beat humor and gore.
Oh yeah; and I love it. They definitely don’t make ’em like this anymore. “Jim Muro” may not be a name you recognize (he only directed Trash and one episode of the TV cop drama, Southland), but you have seen tons of movies he was involved with. He was a steadicam operator in such flicks like The Abyss; Predator 2; Terminator 2; A Few Good Men; Casino; Heat; L.A. Confidential; and the second two X-Men flicks (in total he’s worked on 61 hit movies). That’s a helluva resume Mr. Muro!! Fun fact: Bryan Singer, the director of the first two X-Men flicks was a production assistant on Trash. We all gotta start out somewhere!!
Ok; so what the hell is Street Trash all about? Well the
owner of a liquor store is cleaning out his cellar when he finds a case of “Viper”, a cheap liquor that makes Mad Dog 20-20 look like a sports drink. Since most of his customers are the homeless he decides to sell Viper for $1 a bottle. Unfortunately it has one little side effect: Drink it and the liquid dissolves your body from the inside out into a colorful little puddle of gore. The f/x are fantastic for such a low budget flick; Muro didn’t cut any corners. In one scene a bum is drinking Viper on the crapper and as his body starts to dissolve, he slowly melts into the toilet. Classic scene. To finance this flick the producers were unsuccessful at finding and product sponsorship. Only one company sponsored the film, the makers of Drakes Cakes, and would bring around boxes of the snack cakes for the cast and crew every day. By the end of the shoot everyone was so sick of Drakes Cakes that they saved them up and used them in the scene where a bum explodes. The bum’s fake stomach was full of Drakes Cakes. That’ll make ya run right out for a box of Drake’s Cakes!!
The story also follows the lives of two homeless brothers who in a very short time, manage to piss off Bronson, a Vietnam vet with sociopathic tendencies, the local mob, and the owner of the junkyard they live in. All in a days work I guess. Part of the fun here is the completely nihilistic feel to the movie. There’s not one character with any redeeming qualities; everyone involved is pretty much a scumbag (there’s just various levels of “scumbaggery” going on in this film). Just when you start to sympathize with one of the homeless brothers he goes and tries to rape the local mob bosses drunken girlfriend, who he picks up wandering around the junkyard all alone. Not a smart move. In an especially sleazy moment he leaves the girl lying naked in the junkyard where she is gang raped and killed. Youch!! Seriously, there’s not one character to root for here who has any redeeming qualities!! All these down-on-their-luck, sleazy characters gives this film the odd message that the homeless are homeless because they are scum, every single one of them. But in the context of this flick it works. But trust me; there was no intentional message being presented here. This is an exploitation flick aimed to shock and entertain. Mission accomplished!!
This is a classic grindhouse flick that epitomizes the genre. It’s one of those flicks you need to see to believe. Have a
bunch of buddies over, get some cheap booze, and have a blast (the special edition DVD includes a sticker of the Viper liquor bottle label so you can join in on the fun!). Definitely check this one out; you’ll love it.
Director: Jim Muro
Plot: 4 out of 5 stars
Gore: 8 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer