The book The Acid House is a collection of over 20 short stories by Leith’s best known novelist and the 1998 movie adaptation – supported by the Glasgow Film Fund – groups together three of the stories, namely “The Granton Star Cause”, “A Soft Touch” and “The Acid House”.
Trainspotting and Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy offered views of Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle as contrasts to the seedier sides of the city portrayed within those films. However there is no such imagery in The Acid House – just pure, unadulterated bleakness, certainly in the first two stories (funnily enough Glasgow appears most in the third one) which are played out on practically derelict yet still populated housing estates. There’s not much sign of the character redemption that is evident in Trainspotting and Ecstasy either – we are presented with some pretty grotesque characters and indeed some pretty grotesque imagery, from a close up of a fly transplanting matter from a dog’s mess onto a chicken korma in “The Granton Star Cause” to the pretty horrific looking baby “Tom” (a puppet that resembles a Terrahawks cast off and makes Chucky of Child’s Play fame look angelic by comparison) in “The Acid House”.
I may be wrong but “The Granton Star Cause” appears to have been filmed exclusively in Edinburgh – in a panoramic view of the housing estate the capital’s skyline is visible in the background. There is little to suggest to me in which city “A Soft Touch” was primarily filmed, but there is at least one brief scene – in which Michelle Gomez’ character Catriona staggers along a street at night – that is exposed as Glasgow by a glimpse of an “Evening Times” sticker in a shop window. As mentioned above, the third story – “The Acid House” – features some unmistakable Glasgow locations in quick succession. We see Jemma Redgrave’s middle class Mum Jenny and baby Tom inside the Kibble Palace at the Botanic Gardens, then walking along Dumbarton Road and going into what is in real life The Quarter Gill pub. Coco (Ewen Bremner) and Kirsty (Arlene Cockburn) are meanwhile on a shopping trip, which includes a bit of window shopping at The Diamond Centre in the Argyle Arcade.