Irvine Welsh
The Acid House, VHS Video

"The Acid House" contains three short stories by Irvine Welsh, adapted for the screen. Enter the world of Scottish working-class losers, including heaps of bad taste, physical violence, swearing, strong accents - and a guest appearance by God.

Irvine Welsh's novels are always a welcome departure from your everyday fancy stories, though some might find his unforgiving work a bit hard to grasp. "Trainspotting" was his biggest success to date, but when the book was transformed into a film, it was adapted with a broader audience in mind, hence lost a bit of the original bite. Not so with "The Acid House", a collection of three raw and unabridged stories focussing on Welsh's favourite topic: the life of Generation X+1. It's all about tragic heroes, mostly working-class, mostly from the outskirts of nice, civilized society. True realism, sometimes documentary and autobiographical, but always with a strong sense of black humour.

Look at the first film in line, "The Granton Star Cause", where the central figure Boab has a very, very bad day. His beloved football team "Granton Star" sacks him for being a lazy guy, his parents throw him out of the house, and when he catches his girlfriend on the phone, she tells him she has a new boyfriend. Boab, angry, smashes the phone cell and gets caught by the police. What more? Oh sure, he loses his job at a removal company. What a nightmare! Down at the local pub, Boab has a vision: God is there, sitting on the other side of the table, accusing him of being a fine example of human scum. And God transforms Boab into a fly. Buzzing with anger, Boab is in for revenge and sneaks inside the lives of all those who have done him wrong. A strange, but happy ending? Not when a rolled-up newspaper is used as a fly-swapper and hits Boab to a sudden death.

"A Soft Touch", the second film, is about a lad called Johnny who is too soft for this rotten world. The young father is cuckolded by his wife and manipulated by almost every other person around him. He even gets beaten up by his wife and her new lover when he tries to stand up for his rights. In the end, his wife returns when she is left alone by her lover. And will they live together again, as if nothing had happened? You bet, with a soft guy like Johnny!

"A Soft Touch" is by far the most realistic film in the trilogy, no surrealistic plots or weird camera movements - unlike film number three, "The Acid House": Coco is going out with his girlfriend. After an excessive overdose of chemicals, his mind transforms into a thunderstorm and moves out of his body into the body of a new born child. When Coco wakes up in casualty department, his mind is wiped blank - he cannot remember anything. On the other hand, the baby has taken on Coco's personality and shocks mother with unexpected behaviour. How can this possibly end? No more drugs, please!

The music on "The Acid House" comes from musicians like Nick Cave, Techno Animal, O Yuki Conjugate, Primal Scream, or The Verve. The DVD version features the original movie trailer and an interview with Irvine Welsh.

Published by Film Four/Cinema Club.

(rh, pictures: film four)

Welsh's stories from the Acid House

Coco has lost his mind