The Letterboxd community has a variety of challenges throughout the year. One of them is the Horrorx52 challenge where you pick 52 horror films based on certain criteria. I chose Street Trash as my comedic horror entry for that list. I saw this movie pop up on Shudder some time ago and thought it looked amusing enough but didn’t really pay it much else attention. As I was researching films for the challenge, it came to light that this would fit the bill so I tossed it on the list. Little did I know how much I’d enjoy this.
Is “enjoy” even a word that should be associated with this film? It’s about homeless people drinking some mystery drink that turns them into an assortment of paint colors in very messy splatters. Then there is a whole other side of the film which deals with homeless life on the streets. Eventually, both stories collide in a spectacular, multicolored spray of violent deaths. However, I kind of feel that the two aspects could have been told separately.
The violently melting people could have been a horror story all it’s own. We get no reasoning behind it. Some liquor store owner just happens to find a case of rotted liquor behind a secret door in his basement. Being the paragon of humanity, he sees it’s expired and sells it anyway. As the bodies pile up, we have an unhinged cop who tries to figure things out. Was it an alien drug, government conspiracy, nutjob set on poisoning alcoholics? Unfortunately, that part is just not answered at all. While an ambiguous cause isn’t an issue, it would have been cool to see this idea explored on its own minus all the homeless life problems.
On the other hand, we have a pretty compelling story of the homeless who are shown to screw each other over as much as any other form of community. They take up residence in an old junkyard, which the owner hates, but then his assistant feels sorry for them and tries to help out. You also see the local slum lord, who is this homeless ‘Nam vet who lost it and takes glee in killing random people. He has a gang that is pretty repulsive in their behavior as well. Keep away, anyone? This guy reminded me of a villain from Mad Max in a lot of ways and his little gang isn’t far off from careening down the road in a souped-up V8 killing people for sport.
So, in my mind, there are really two distinct films going on here. The story weaves back and forth from goo pile investigation to homeless turf war until one of the characters figures out the poison is turning his friends to goo, so he decides to confront the big bad and his lackey’s using the poison as a weapon. It all comes together fairly well and just works because of simply how insane this whole thing is. As much as I say there are two distinct ideas going on, I couldn’t imagine this film any other way.
The Shudder copy is really good looking. For a 30-year-old film, it looked like it could have been filmed recently, and I think that really enhanced the entertainment value to see the visual effects in a nice clarity. The bums melting into multicolored goo piles has a certain charm that wouldn’t be there if this had tried to be realistic. There’s also a Killer Klowns from Outer Space vibe, which looking that movie up, I see it was a year after this. Anyway, I saw Killer Klowns first so take that as you will.
I’ve said much about the melting people already, but I feel like this needs to be directly discussed. When you see someone ingest the poison and melt in this film, you’re really seeing gallons of multicolored paint pouring out of their mouths, torso, pant legs, and sometimes exploding into giant paint smears. At no point do you get the standard fare of blood red showers which I think really adds to the comedic element. It takes the splatter of an Evil Dead movie and adds pigment. I’m sure this thing was low budget, but the paint adds a lot to it. In fact, I think the high-quality picture really amplified the effects work.
All in all, I went into this completely blind and loved it. If you’re a fan of things like Hobo with a Shotgun or Evil Dead, then this will be right up your alley. By the mention of those, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into, but there still manages to be some surprises along the way. Yes, you will feel dirty for having watched this, but I can assure you, it’s worth it. I give this 3.5/5 stars and would love to go more on creativity alone, but logic steps in and tell me it’s a bad movie so don’t go overboard on scoring.