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eighties horror you might have missed

Street Trash (1987)

"I wrote it to democratically offend every group on the planet" - Roy Frumke (Street Trash screenwriter)

I love goopy horror movies - there just doesn't seem to be enough of them. And that's part of what makes Street Trash so wonderful. It contains by far, the brightest, most colorful goop that I've ever seen in a film, and in greater quantities. Sometimes the goop is light blue with green splashes, and other times it's orange or purple, exploding across the screen and onto everything nearby. It's what a high-speed Lynda Benglis poured piece might look like.

The other thing that needs to be said is that Street Trash is a movie about bums: crazy bums, melting bums, and bums that explode. The source of the trouble is a mysteriously-tainted batch of liquor, called Tenafly Viper, that burns like acid through the flesh of all who consume it. Each guy seems to turn into a different color of glop - they're almost color-coded, like the pesticides in Saul Bass's (yes that Saul Bass) incredible Phase IV. And the scene on the poster - that's something that actually happens in the film (take that Chopping Mall!).

There are many other things to love here, including a hilarious scene where a bum shoplifts an entire chicken dinner by hiding groceries in his pants, an excellent decapitation by flying air cylinder, and some sick and bizarre slapstick towards the end (I'm not going to ruin the surprise). Street Trash is widely acknowledged as the best of the "melt" movie subgenere; others include Slime City and The Incredible Melting Man. Also, it might be the only film to feature, and open with, a bum chase scene.

Director James Muro knows about junkyards (his parents owned one at the time) and that's where most of the film takes place. He and cinematographer David Sperling, who was also DP for both of the original Boogeyman films, provide lots of interesting shots, as well as great low-angle Steadicam footage. Street Trash is Muro's only directorial work, but in the years since has established himself as a Steadicam operator on many big-budget films.

Synapse Films has released two versions of Street Trash - one is a single disc version and the other is the 2-Disc Meltdown Edition, which has two audio commentaries and a two-hour documentary about the making of the film. Unfortunately, the disc that I rented from my favorite video store, Mike's Movie Madness, was the single disc version; Netflix has the Meltdown Edition for disc rental (with both discs), though. I'm looking forward to buying that soon and will report back once I do!

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