Back when blu-ray was just a twin­kle in the eye of home video dis­trib­u­tors, Synapse did a top-notch spe­cial edi­tion DVD set for Street Trash.  It boast­ed an excel­lent trans­fer of the film, a full-length doc­u­men­tary about it and a num­ber of oth­er cool extras.  The result became one of the best-loved Synapse releas­es.  Once blu-ray became a mar­ket lead­er, it was inevitable that Synapse would have to revis­it this clas­sic in high-def­i­n­i­tion.  Thankfully, that time has arrived — and the results main­tain the stan­dard of qual­i­ty this com­pa­ny has estab­lished for their ever-grow­ing list of blu-rays.

Synapse doesn’t dis­ap­point with the new HD trans­fer used here: the details are sharp as a tack, the col­ors are as vibrant as they are rich and the bump in res­o­lu­tion makes it oh-so-easy to appre­ci­ate the tremen­dous tech­ni­cal finesse behind the cam­era on this grit­ty lit­tle gem.  Both mono 2.0 and stereo 5.1 sound mix­es are includ­ed, in a loss­less for­mat.  The lat­ter was lis­tened to for this review and it does jus­tice to the film’s com­plex sound mix: there is plen­ty of sur­round speak­er activ­i­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly dur­ing those melt­down sce­nes, and the end result is tru­ly immer­sive for the view­er.

The extras begin with a pair of solo com­men­tary tracks, one by writer/producer Roy Frumkes and the sec­ond by direc­tors James Muro. The Frumkes track offers an excel­lent overview of the film.  As a screen­writer, he’s able to explain his dif­fer­ent sto­ry­telling choic­es (includ­ing the con­tro­ver­sial rape scene) as well as what exam­ples of dia­logue were enhanced by the cast.

As a pro­duc­er, Frumkes pro­vides a nice tech­ni­cal appre­ci­a­tion of the film — the descrip­tion of how dif­fer­ent Steadicam shots were achieved will be real­ly illu­mi­nat­ing to film­mak­ers — and is also able to dis­cuss the busi­ness side of putting togeth­er such an uncon­ven­tion­al film.  A nice bonus is the fact that he’s kept tabs on most of the film’s par­tic­i­pants and is able to offer updates on their where­abouts.

Muro’s track is more tech­ni­cal­ly inclined but no less reward­ing.  His com­ments are very scene-speci­fic, dis­cussing the moti­va­tions and tech­niques for all the cam­era moves as well as his director’s jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for how dif­fer­ent sce­nes were cov­ered.  Muro also offers fond appre­ci­a­tions of the cast’s work — and you’ll be able to learn which two cast mem­bers were his “uncles” as a kid.  Between his track and the Frumkes track, you get a nice 360-degree por­trait of the why’s and how’s behind the film’s cre­ative choic­es.

The cen­ter­piece of the extras is The Meltdown Memoirs, a doc­u­men­tary orig­i­nal includ­ed on Synapse’s “Ultimate Meltdown Edition” dou­ble-DVD set.  Frumkes him­self pro­duced this film over a four-year peri­od, shoot­ing inter­views with every avail­able cast and crew mem­ber as well as incor­po­rat­ing all sorts of behind the sce­nes footage (film and video) from the pro­duc­tion itself.  The end result runs a whop­ping 124 min­utes but it won’t bore Street Trash devo­tees for one sec­ond.  Frumkes acts as the nar­ra­tive anchor, guid­ing the view­er through the project’s incep­tion, pre-pro­duc­tion, shoot, edit­ing, release and cult-infamy after­life.

However, like Street Trash itself, The Meltdown Memoirs trav­els through many sub­plots and digres­sions with­in this struc­ture that yield all man­ner of off­beat rewards.  The actors who were so impor­tant to the fea­ture are just as impor­tant to this doc­u­men­tary and their ret­ro­spec­tive com­ments yield moments both hilar­i­ous (Vic Noto’s “Ducky Drake” sto­ry) and haunt­ing (Miriam Zucker tells how a real-life tragedy informed her per­for­mance as a vic­tim in this film).

And that’s not all The Meltdown Memoirs has to offer.  Frumkes and the cast talk about the many sce­nes cut from the film, includ­ing a fan­ta­sy dance inter­lude.  There is also exten­sive dis­cus­sion of prob­lems at the film’s dis­trib­u­tor, Lightning Pictures, fum­bled the release of the film.  However, the ele­ment fans will find most inter­est­ing is learn­ing what became of the film’s col­or­ful par­tic­i­pants.  Bill Chepil is par­tic­u­lar­ly mem­o­rable: a vis­it to his Arizona home reveals he has become a born-again Republican who leads a pop­u­lar doo-wop revival group when he isn’t pump­ing iron or rid­ing motor­cy­cles (!).  In short, this doc­u­men­tary is as much an odd­ball gem as the film that inspired it and is thus a must-see for any­one who loves Street Trash.

Elsewhere, you’ll find the orig­i­nal short film ver­sion of Street Trash that Muro and Mike Lackey made as film school stu­dents.  You’ll be amazed just how many sce­nes from the orig­i­nal short were reworked for the fea­ture ver­sion — and Lackey also did the make­up effects, which include a clev­er grossout bit involv­ing an eye­ball that didn’t make it to the fea­ture ver­sion.  There’s also a brief pro­mo teaser for the film, just under three min­utes, that was tak­en from an old VHS source.  It looks rough but it is nice that it was includ­ed here for the com­pletists.  The clev­er the­atri­cal trail­er for the film is also includ­ed and it does a nice job of sell­ing the film as a black com­e­dy rather than just as a hor­ror film.

The image gallery includ­ed on the pre­vi­ous dou­ble-DVD set isn’t car­ried over here so hard­core fans will want to hang onto it for that rea­son.  However, there are a cou­ple of new extras to spice up this blu-ray ver­sion.  For exam­ple, there is a quin­tet of out­take sce­nes from the film tak­en from a VHS source: the main high­light here is some more pro­fane impro­vi­sa­tion from Tony Darrow.  That said, the killer of the new addi­tions is an inter­view with actress Jane Arakawa, one of the few peo­ple not includ­ed in The Meltdown Memoirs.  A nine-min­ute chat with her reveals her mem­o­ries of the pro­duc­tion, what she’s done since the film and a fun anec­dote about how she learned that Street Trash has a seri­ous cult fol­low­ing.

In short, this is the high-def upgrade that Street Trash deserves and anoth­er fine addi­tion to the Synapse blu-ray reper­toire.  If you’re a fan of tru­ly wild cult cin­e­ma and have a home the­ater, this is a wor­thy addi­tion for your col­lec­tion.

To read Schlockmania’s film review of Street Trash, click here.