STREET TRASH was the first and only feature directed by Jim Muro, a former Gore Gazette staffer who’s gone on to become a highly sought-after steadicam operator (on high-profilers like TERMINATOR 2 and TITANIC) and cinematographer (on Paul Haggis’ CRASH and RUSH HOUR 3, among others). The writer and producer was Roy Frumkes, who previously made the well-received behind-the-scenes DAWN OF THE DEAD documentary DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD, and who was allegedly inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s 1970 Japanese classic DODES’KA-DEN in scripting STREET TRASH.
In the midst of a skuzzy big city junkyard several eccentric characters proliferate, including a gaggle of bums, an amoral mobster and the latter’s equally questionable henchmen, quite a few clueless yuppies, a crooked cop, the junkyard’s obese owner and a compassionate Asian woman who works for him. The fun begins when the manager of a nearby liquor store finds a case filled with ancient bottles of liquor, which he disseminates to the lowlifes who patronize his establishment. The first to swill the stuff is a bum who literally melts into an outdoor toilet. Next a penniless old man turns into a mass of toxic goo after taking a swig of the vile liquor; he drips onto a yuppie walking under his balcony, whose entire face is fried.
More insanity follows, not all of it hooch-related. A woman is raped and murdered in the midst of the junkyard, and a guy gets his wang chopped off—he ends up running back and forth after the thing as several guys toss it around. But eventually the toxic liquid does nearly everyone in, including the liquor store manager who started the whole mess and the asshole mobster.
Jim Muro’s direction is undeniably impressive from a visual standpoint. He pulls off quite a few eye-pleasing camera moves that never feel distracting or show-offy (in direct contrast to something like Scott Spiegel’s INTRUDER), including a couple Hollywood-worthy tracking shots (Muro didn’t become one of tinsel town’s top steadicam operators for nothing). However, without a compelling story or characters even visuals as impressive as this film’s grow dull after awhile.
Not only are there too many people to properly keep track of, but none of the characters has enough screen time to fully register. That includes the erstwhile heroine, who’s far too upstanding to be convincing as part of this gallery of lowlifes. It doesn’t surprise me that none of the actors have gone on to much in the years since (the only familiar faces are Tony Darrow, seen in GOODFELLAS and THE SOPRANOS, and FRANKENHOOKER‘S James Lorinz), and the highly disjointed, episodic narrative does them (and us) no favors.
That leaves the special effects, which are quite impressive given the low budget, easily on par with those of THE EVIL DEAD or THE DEADLY SPAWN. Of course those well made, shrewdly conceived movies provide a good example of what STREET TRASH, undeniably inspired though it is, woefully lacks.
Lightning Pictures Inc./Synapse Films
Director: Jim Muro
Producer: Roy Frumkes
Screenplay: Roy Frumkes
Cinematography: David Sperling
Editing: Dennis Werner
Cast: Mike Lackey, Bill Chepil, Vic Noto, Mark Sferrazza, Jane Arakawa, Pat Ryan, Clarenze Jarmon, Bernard Perlman, M. D’Jango Krunch, James Lorinz, Tony Darrow, Morty Storm, Sam Blasco, Bruce Torbet, Gary Auerback, Roy Frumkes