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Street Trash

Year: 1987
Director: Jim Moro
Producer: Roy Frumkes
Writer: Roy Frumkes
Cast: Mike Lackey, Vic Noto, Mark Sferrazza, Jane Arakawa

I remember a picture from the video store era, either from the video cover or a review in a magazine, of a guy with the entire front of his body opened up and slithering away in slimy mush, so I figured I'd give this flick a go and see if it was the comedy splatterfest it promised.

The first notable thing is how it betrays the age it was made. Only a few years after the likes of Basket Case, Death Wish , Maniac , Midnight Cowboy, Cruising, Mean Streets and The Warriors, New York was still depicted as a grimy, polluted hellhole full of drugs, porno theatres, crime and poverty.

Evidently Brooklyn (where it was shot and set) was no better back then. Maybe the powers that be had begun to really clean Manhattan up for the hip and ultra-rich like it is today, but the city we meet is a broken down dump, crawling with the homeless and their own subcultures and cliques.

Just two of them are brothers Fred (Mike Lackey) and Kevin (Mark Sferrazza), who try to keep their heads above water in their own ways. For Fred, it means sleeping rough and trying to make it on the streets in constant competition with his peers for booze and other provisions. For Kevin, it means working in and living in a junkyard alongside other hobos who all serve as the footsoldiers to a sort of boss-level creep, crazed homeless former Vietnam vet Bronson (Vic Noto).

Kevin is also friends with Wendy (Jane Arakawa), the kind hearted girl who works in the office for the sleazebag junkyard owner (and who constantly fights off his disgusting sexual advances towards her) and cares for he and his peers on the premises in a sort of homeless camp.

But Fred unleashes disaster when he swipes a bottle of dodgy booze a local liquor store owner has found in his basement, putting it out for sale. Whoever drinks it melts away to nothing in gruesome fashion – and in a series of comedic death scenes involving lots of coloured slime and prosthetics.

As bodies pile up, a pair of dedicated cops (one a preening male model type constantly in a tank top and the other a bad parody of a 'bad cop' movie archetype – neither of them apparently supposed to be funny) figure it's a turf war between the homeless gangs who live all over the area, but nobody suspects the truth until Fred himself witnesses what the new concoction on the streets is doing to people.

The story doesn't make a lot of sense (I had no idea why the Vietnam vet hobo leader was so intent on killing Kevin late in the film), and the acting and scripting is exactly what you expect from a B movie exploitation classic, but there are some inventive and funny scenes of blood and guts and you can see why it's a cult classic nowadays.

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