This 1987 ‘horror classic’ is a dose of pure, uncut celluloid in the vein of Troma’s finest. In fact, it borrows so much from Kaufman and Hertz that it could have easily fallen into the category of half hearted imitation. But what validates Street Trash as a cult item amongst the overcrowded cesspool of 80s Betamax nasties is in its defiantly bat s**t premise and wonderfully eccentric through line.
The movie loosely centres on a vague cynosure, rediscovered bourbon which has been hiding in the basement of a grimy liquor store in ‘Hobosville’ California. It seems to possess a slight luminescent quality and sports a discouraging label which proclaims the liquid to be named ‘Viper’. The booze is deemed sellable by the shop owner and is apathetically flogged off to the many esoteric homeless that litter the streets. These bibulous bums proceed to guzzle down said drink and in doing so, melt/ooze/explode (delete where applicable).
As you may have guessed, your enjoyment of the film will rely heavily on your willingness to just run with it, to let go of any affections you may have towards basic plotting and narratives that actually progress.
The drink itself is just a side effect of the world’s Looney Toons brand of psychotic energy, not a central plot point for which to invest you energies in. Its origins are never revealed or even alluded to. Therefore it is accepted as a silly excuse to watch people burst forth a Technicolor rainbow of viscose liquids.
The characters hinge upon an equally hazy construct. They dart in and out of scenes, slurring incoherent gibberish and violently attacking each other both physically and sexually.
Half way into the film’s –admittedly bloated- running time it becomes clearly apparent that they connect only in the sense that they all exist in the same universe. They bare no real motivations for which to interact with each other. It’s like watching a cast of blind lunatics flailing wildly into the ether, briefly shouting and cursing as they collide with each other before moving on to their next mishap.
However this is just clutching at straws as what may first appear to be faults are actually Street Trash’s greatest strengths. By being so defiantly mental and anarchic it lends itself a strange kind of charm, like an unhinged toddler who has had too much sugar, a bucket perched atop their miniature skull, the only guard between them and the blunt objects they hurtle themselves towards with unfathomable gusto.
Yet for all of the wanton chaos they create, you just can’t help but smirk at the little s**t, bewitched as you are by their entertaining antics.
One particular scene, for me, sums up the film’s wild hearted oeuvre. Set against the backdrop of a dust covered scrap yard, – which resembles an asylum more than it does a lot for used vehicles – one unlucky dreg has his penis cut off, mid stream, and thrown frenetically back and forth between homeless nutters in a wonderfully perverse game of ‘keep away’. It’s such an overblown, cartoonish, bizarre and disturbing moment that you cannot possibly hold back the perplexed laughter that will inevitably spill from your mouth.
This is a feeling that you will no doubt maintain through much of the film and will certainly take immense pleasure from.
Street Trash is a splatter flick that wilfully acts the class clown and is all the better for it. There is no other movie more deserving of your time on a Friday night, take away in one hand, cold beer in the other.
It isn’t going to change your life and it certainly isn’t going to engage you with a witty script or interesting plot, but will instead hold your attention via sheer energy alone. Its will is stronger than yours, it’s better not to fight it.