Sunday, 23 February 2014
Street Trash is a 1987 comedy horror film directed by J. Michael Muro (credited as Jim Muro). It won the Silver Raven at the Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Film. The film has acquired a status as a cult classic horror-comedy and is one of a number of movies known as "melt" movies.
The plot revolves around a consignment of out-of-date hooch and its devastating effects upon the daily lives of a dysfunctional community of hobos living in and around a New York junkyard brutally ruled by a violent, PTSD-afflicted Vietnam veteran with a penchant for ultra-violence. Of course, the ramifications of the toxic beverage go way beyond its impact upon coping mechanisms, contributing to emotional instability and causing long-term liver damage. Fortunately the results for the audience are not ill-smelling, overbearing and depressing but deliriously entertaining, gooey and hilarious.
Roy Frumkes claimed, “I wrote [Street Trash] to democratically offend every group on the planet.” He was successful. If the necrophilia scene doesn’t disrupt you, then you are desensitized to a point of reckless abandon. There are so many scenes that cross boundaries in Street Trash, and only for the sake of crossing boundaries, that it’s simply exhilarating. How so?
The offensiveness isn’t serious. It’s obviously artificial and exaggerated: it’s camp. In her 1964 essay, Susan Sontag claimed: “The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious. Camp is playful, anti-serious. More precisely, Camp involves a new, more complex relation to “the serious.” ” In all of its un-pc, outlandish lunacy, that is precisely Street Trash’s accomplishment. Self-consciously ridiculous, it makes a tall tale out of human depravity; it’s a liberating mockery of seriousness. Street Trash is not only funny, it’s anti-serious. How can you not love it?
Melt movies usually have superb, gory special effects. Of its kind, Street Trash has some of the most creative and grotesque effects ever staged. Not only do human bodies melt, explode, and disintegrate by chemicals, they do so with vibrant bursts of colorful slime. Street Trash is truly a movie that disgusts with all colors of the rainbow. Why show vomit when you could show bright purple vomit? The gore is comical on the one hand (Saturday Night Live‘s makeup artist Jennifer Aspinall worked on the effects team), and surreal on the other. The sanguinary moments of the movie give it a cartoonishness. It makes Evil Dead 2 look like Cinema Verite.