"Why do you have to be unconscious?" asks Holly (played by Holly Woodlawn) while fingering the unresponsive crotch of her passed-out junkie boyfriend, Joe (Joe Dallesandro). Joe passes through a series of flaccid sexual encounters until, on account of his drug habit, he hits rock bottom as Holly is forced out of frustration to consummate with one of his discarded beer bottles. A radical and infinitely more compassionate departure from producer Andy Warhol's art-as-commodity (or commodification) discourse, director Paul Morrissey set out to make a reactionary antidrug film (originally titled Drug Trash
), but the film instead turned into a sweaty, cinema-verité black comedy about the pitfalls of, to use a popular catch phrase of the time, "dropping out" of society and, inevitably, losing all hope of human intimacy. In this case, dropping out is not so much an escape as it is a further complicity: rather than an exercise in free will, one form of mindless consumer addiction has simply exchanged with another. As a time capsule, societal criticism, and cult oddity all in one, grab this from the trash heap of film history on your way out of a burning building. --Christopher Chase
The story of Joe [Dallesandro] and his lover-protector, Holly [Woodlawn], who is something to behold, a comic book Mother Courage who fancies herself as Marlene Dietrich but sounds more like Phil Silvers. Joe and Holly try to make a go of things in their Lower East Side basement, from which Holly goes forth from time to time to cruise the Fillmore East and to scavenge garbage cans, while Joe's journeys are in search of real junk... Trash is true-blue movie-making, funny and vivid.--Vincent Canby, The New York Times. Written & directed by Paul Morrissey, "presented" by Andy Warhol.