Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blu-ray Review: STREET TRASH (1987) - Special Meltdown Edition (Synapse Films)

Special Meltdown Edition Blu-ray 
Label: Synapse Films
Region:  All Region ABC
Rating: Unrated
Duration:  102 minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Original Mono with Optional Englisg Subtitles 
Video:  1080p Widescreen (1.85:1)
Director:  James Muro
  James Lorinz, Mike Lackey, Mark Sferrazza, Bill Chepil

Now here's a VHS rental from my youth that just never wears out it's welcome, a true cult classic of 80's horror. The winos and derelicts of Manhattan's Lower East Side start melting into puddles of neon-goo when the owner of Ed's Liquors finds a dusty case of sixty year old  Tenefly Viper Wine in the basement and puts it for sale at just $1 a bottle. What ensues is one of the greatest gross-out black comedies of the 80's as demented winos disintegrate in mere seconds leaving behind a fluorescent puddle of glop. Quickly the strange putrid deaths catch the attention of a stern cop named Bill (Bill Chepil) who investigates the series of melty-murders leading him to a local salvage yard inhabited by a colorful cast of homeless character beginning with a menacing  'Nam vet named Bronson (Vic Noto) who rules over the scrap yard from his mountain of trash complete with scuzzy henchmen and a sex-slave girlfriend. Bronsons's wound a bit tight in the cranium and suffers from post traumatic stress and is prone to 'Nam flashbacks and violent outburst, he's quite a nasty bit of business, and the bums fear him for good reason. 
While the film doesn't paint a very compassionate picture of the homeless community not all the characters are awful pieces of shit, there are two runaway brothers at the scarp yard just trying to survive day to day in a shitty situation. We have the older bearded brother Fred (Mike Lockey) who is a fucking gas to watch, the opening scenes of him thieving a bottle of Teneafly Viper from Ed's Liquor's and the ensuing chase are pretty great, he's the one who introduces the poison hooch to the other bums, quite by accident. The younger Kevin (Mark Sferrazza) brother is a bit sweeter and naive he's sorta dating an Asian girl named Wendy (Jane Arawaka) who works at the scrap yard. The film paints a drab picture of living on the streets and the shit that they have to endure from day to day, if it's not falling victim to the brute Bronson or just scraping by looking for a meal it's something worse... melting into a technicolor pool of goo. 

The main draw of the film is the gore and crude humor, there's no shortage of bad taste on display with rape, necrophilia, murder and some great low-budget gore effects, it's a hot sloppy mess. The effects are low-budget but pretty awesome, sorta like the best Troma film you've ever seen, it's definitely along the lines of Nuke 'Em High only way better and with a splash of early Peter Jackson thrown in! Street Trash (1987) is without a doubt one of the best 80's splatter comedies, seeping with nasty violence, sick humor, rape jokes and more technicolor puke and goo than you might be able to stomach, it's just wonderful. 

The acting is not exactly stellar, which is not to say the character weren't fun, they were a blast. There's a great cast of cracked and degenerate characters, some of my favorites were the older bums, some fun performances from old dudes, who mostly all end up melted into toilets or exploding in a technicolor geyser of gore. A character Burt enters a grocer store and stuffs chicken and Kool-Aid down his pants until he's accosted by an old lady and he creates quite a scene, fun stuff. Some amateur acting doesn't derail the film, throw in enough outrageous gore and weirdness and I can forgive just about anything and this film more than makes up for it's shortcomings with it's over-the-top awesomeness, but your mileage may vary depending on your tolerance for gang-rape and necrophilia jokes, plus there's an awesome severed-cock scene featuring an unfortunate bum caught in a sadistic game of of monkey-in-the-middle with his own junk!

Street Trash (1987) is a fairly attractive film which might be a bit of a shock considering it's a low-budget 80's production, definitely a step-up from the usual Troma trash we were getting at the time. Some of this might be due to director Jim Muro who just a few years later would go onto to a successful career as a steadi-cam operator on Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) among others, you can definitely see his talents at work even on this splatter cheapie. Plus, there's some great art direction and set designs using natural locations, it's a dingy and scummy looking film by design, there's not a clean surface in the entire film, I needed a shower after watching it in 1080p. On top of that, it's a pretty tight little film that manages to chug along at a good clip and keeps you plugged in for the duration, it's a nasty bit of fun from start to finish. 

Blu-ray: Synapse Films have upgraded their previous DVD edition of this 80's splatter classic with a new 1080p Special Meltdown Edition presented with an MPEG-4 AVC encode, it's a fantastic hi-def transfer, you've never seen Street Trash's grotesque meltdowns like this before, it's quite pleasing. A sharp image with nice clarity and a healthy amount of grain and fine detail - the neon colors are eye-popping! Sourced from the original camera negative this transfer is very clean with only minor specs, no complaints here about the image, yet another superb Synapse transfer. 

We have two audio options, the original mono mix and a newly created DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with optional English subtitles. The mono is quite good and will please the purists but the 5.1 really opens it up, dialogue, score and effects are balanced and strong, it's a very crisp audio presentation. 

Looking at the extras let's begin with the carryovers from the standard-def DVD. We have two audio commentaries beginning with writer/producer Roy Frumkes, a name you might recall from his film Document of the Dead, a documentary about the making of George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978), it's a great listen and well thought out as Frumkes details his involvement on the project, covering it's genesis  the locations, special effects, cast and the dialogue, even pointing out some of the ad-libbed dialogue he didn't write, it's a great commentary. 

Director Jim Muro's commentary is a bit more technical in regard to composing shots and some of the great effects work, he definitely enjoy watching the film and laughs quite often, it's not quite as anecdotal as Frumkes but it's a good listen.. 

There's an over two hour documentary titled The Meltdown Memories from writer/producer Frumkes and it's pretty damn entertaining with interviews from Frumkes, special effects man Mike Lackey, director James Muro, producer Jim Marucci, art director Denise Labelle, actors Glenn Andreiev, Nicole Porter, Vic Noto who played Bronson and Frankenhooker's James Lorinz who has a small but memorable part in the film, love the end-credits sequence. The piece is narrated by Frumkes and features some vintage interviews from Muro and Porter. At over two hours it's 23 minutes longer than the damn film and covers all the bases, if it's about Street Trash it's covered here to some degree.

We have the original 16mm Street Trash short film that runs just over 15 minutes, it's a cool extra and it's interesting to note the small differences between it and the feature film, the main idea is intact but it's a bit different.  

Along those same lines is the original Street Trash promotional teaser created to assist in raising funds for the feature length film, there's also a theatrical trailer. 

New to this Blu-ray edition are an Jane Arawaka video interview, the actress recalls her time on the film, it's film's cult status and her remembers her co-actors on the project. Interestingly she went on to live quite the rock n' roll lifestyle post-Street Trash having married the bass player for The Rolling Stones! There are also a selection of deleted scenes totaling just over seven minutes, there's nothing to earth shattering but it's pretty cool to have 'em on the set, plus we get a very neat Tenefly Viper Wine sticker inside the Blu-ray case. A few items not ported over from the previous DVD are a pic gallery and a booklet but the new exclusives are quite cool.

 Special Features:

- High-Definition Transfer from the Original Camera Negative
- 5.1 Surround Remix Created Specifically for Home Theater Environments
- Two Audio Commentaries Featuring Producer Roy Frumkes and Director James Muro
- THE MELTDOWN MEMOIRS – Feature Length Documentary on the History and Making of STREET TRASH (2:03:59) 
- The Original STREET TRASH 16mm Short Film That Inspired the Movie (15:05)
- The Original STREET TRASH Promotional Teaser (3:07)
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2:10)

- Jane Arakawa Video Interview (9:15) 
- Deleted Scenes (7:12)
- Create Your Own Bottle of “Tenafly Viper” Wine with the Enclosed Label Sticker!

Verdict: Street Trash (1987) is a true cult classic, a nasty 80's splatter-comedy that should be on every horror enthusiasts shelf and Synapse's superb Blu-ray is worth a double-dip with a sweet 1080p upgrade and some great extras. Synapse have yet to disappoint with any of their Blu-rays, this is a great package! 

4 Outta 5