Brothers Fred (Mike Lackey) and Kevin (Mark Sferrazza) are transients who have made a home for themselves within the gutted cars of an oversized junkyard. As if having no parents, living on skid row and constantly bickering with one another doesn't make life hard enough, the siblings have other things to consider:

First, there are the other bums that populate the scrapyard. While some, such as Burt (Clarenze Jarmon), are friendly, most are a lethal combination of deceitful, horny and desperate. The boys are wise to the fact that they must live with one eye looking over their shoulder.

Then there's Frank (the late great Pat Ryan), the yard owner - a man-mountain who looks for excuses to turf the bums out of his yard, in-between raping corpses and sexually harassing pretty secretary Wendy (Jane Arakawa).

But worst of all, there's Bronson (Vic Noto). He's a seriously deranged Goliath of a Vietnam veteran, who rules the yard with an iron fist when not suffering from flashbacks to wartime atrocities. We first meet him when he cleans a nerdy civilian's car windscreen on the street, and ends up throwing said driver's head through the glass. Yes sir, Bronson is huge and not to be fucked with.

Unfortunately no-one has told super-hard cop Bill (Bill Chepil) this, and he turns up sniffing around the yard to investigate Bronson's spree of violence.

In the midst of all this squalor and chaos, Fred and Kevin continue to quarrel and get by on nothing. As if life wasn't dangerous enough for them, a recently unearthed case of cheap hooch at the local liqueur store appeals to the transients - but unbeknownst to them the drink, called Viper, has the alarming effect of melting it's imbibers into gooey, Jackson Pollack-type puddles.

With all of this to contend with, could life get any worse for our squabbling tramp brothers? You wouldn't think it could, until Fred manages to stumbles into a mobster's drunken girl and take her back to the yard for shitfaced sex. A cackling bimbo in the sea of wrecked cars draws the attention of the other bums and she winds up being gang-raped to death. Which leaves the mobster hungry for revenge ...

Where do you start with bona fide cult classic STREET TRASH? I could needlessly point out that the plot is all over the place and at times feels like little more than a stream of consciousness, lunging spastically from one ugly set-piece to the next. I could maybe highlight the wildly enthusiastic but ultimately farcical performances. Or maybe I could observe how Jennifer Aspinall's FX work looks a tad ropy these days, despite retaining it's orgasm-inducing splashiness.

Could it also be worth musing over whether the whole event is a wry commentary on the capitalism that poisoned the America of its time?

Or maybe I should simply stick to relaying what you no doubt already know: STREET TRASH is pure unrelenting fun of the most vulgar kind, from the impressive use of a single camera racing through a burning building during the opening chase sequence, through the wonderful Technicolor melting set-pieces and right down to the awesome splatterific finale.

Along the way, don't forget Burt's rib-tickling foray into shoplifting. Or the grossest game of soccer ever committed to film. Or the wonderful comedy double-act of gangster Nick (Tony Darrow) and his wise-cracking flunky (James Lorinz). Or Wendy's tender relationship with boyish Kevin, providing fleeting moments of calm in-between all of the surrounding madness.

The long and the short of it is that STREET TRASH is an extremely well-paced, fluently shot and edited film populated by memorable oddball characters and enough bad taste gore gags to satisfy even the most jaded fan. It's a comedy of sorts, and some of Fred's dialogue is very funny indeed ("how about a 68? You blow me and I'll owe you one"), but it also has a surprisingly big heart at it's core. Ultimately you can't help but root for the brothers' cause.

Beyond the film's endlessly entertaining attempts at breaking every taboo (rape, necrophilia, castration, racism etc), take time to check out the lighting and director Jim Muro's assured use of the steadicam: superb.

When the film was released on UK video by Avatar in 1987 it suffered BBFC cuts totalling 6 seconds. Which is remarkable considering it's content and the censorial grip this country was in at the time. Since then the film has enjoyed an uncut DVD release in the UK courtesy of Midnite Movies, released in early 2001. However, despite a decent transfer and a short featurette, that release was blighted by an incorrect full-frame presentation and news of a US Special Edition in the works.

After what seemed to be an eternity, Synapse released their 2-disc "Meltdown Edition" in 2006. It was met with rapturous excitement by fans, and lived up to the wait. It was, many speculated, the definitive version of the film.

Now Arrow Films have their own 2-disc Special Edition out on British shores, and the UK fan finally gets a DVD release of STREET TRASH worthy of it's cult status.

First off, the uncut presentation of the film on disc 1 is very good. Colours are deep without bleeding, images are smooth and detail is fine. The film is presented in an anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer. Having just checked it alongside the Synapse R1 SE, the Arrow release looks to me to be ever-so-slightly darker and softer. Even so, it's a sterling effort and owners of previous releases from the likes of Midnite Movies and Dragon will be more than happy if they were to upgrade to this.

English audio is presented in a clean but unremarkable 2.0 mix.

The discs I reviewed were early screeners so there were no such niceties as menus or chapters to comment upon.

Disc 2's most substantial extra is the superb feature-length documentary "The Meltdown Memoirs". A brilliant 126-minute labour of love by director Roy Frumkes (writer and producer of STREET TRASH), this slick and stylish film begins with a toddler reacting with giggles and tears while watching choice moments from Muro's sickfest, before tracking down most of the STREET TRASH cast and crew to give the most detailed, entertaining insight into the making of the movie imaginable. With plenty of rare behind-the-scenes footage to fill the running time, this serves as an indispensable supplement to the main feature. It's amusing to see Bryan Singer (he of THE USUAL SUSPECTS and X-MEN directorial fame) taking time out to reminisce over his work on the film as a production assistant. Lorinz provides the comedy highlights, while Lackey comes across as a bit of a cock. Which is entertaining in itself. Frumkes may be a little too self-congratulatory for some tastes but the bottom line is that this is a great watch, and one that successfully leaves you itching to return to STREET TRASH sharpish.

Elsewhere we get a UK exclusive interview with Arakawa. This is 9 minutes long and padded out with the occasional clip from the film. So, it's not the most insightful "exclusive" (especially as she spends a good two minutes talking about how she's spent the last two decades travelling the globe with The Rolling Stones [her husband is a touring musician with them]). But Arakawa has fond memories of the film, and some enjoyably nice words to say about her colleagues. Short but sweet, the interview is worth having for fans because Arakawa was one person that Frumkes couldn't nail down, despite his best efforts, for his previously available "Memoirs" documentary.

The packaging for this DVD includes Arrow's now-customary (and greatly appreciated) choice of two covers (double-sided artwork) and a fold-out poster.

So, pitting this against the Synapse disc - which has a Region 1 encoding - both versions offer the uncut film in sterling anamorphic transfers and both contain that super 2-hour documentary. The Arrow release also offers an exclusive new interview with Arakawa, a fold-out poster and double-sided cover art. The Synapse release offers an optional 5.1 audio mix on the main feature, a rare 2-minute promo for the film, the original 15-minute 16mm short film of STREET TRASH, a stills gallery, two audio commentaries and the original theatrical trailer.

Can either release truly be called definitive? No, as any die-hard fan will already know they need both versions in their collection. Technically the Synapse release is by far the better of the two. But the Arrow release is excellent in it's own right, and Region 2 fans should lap this release up.

Arrow's horror range continues to deeply impress. STREET TRASH as an uncut 2-disc Special Edition DVD in the UK? Wow, it's great news and hopefully just the start of many exciting releases that we can look forward to in 2010.

Review by Stu Willis

Released by Arrow Video
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review