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5 Movies like Trainspotting: Blowing Your Mind

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Roxanne_Sancto_itcher_contributorFor films like Trainspotting, I decided to look at these options: The Acid House, The Basketball Diaries and Blow. See what you think. ~ Roxanne Sancto

Alright, so before we get this started, let’s get one thing straight:
1. No movie will ever beat the carpet scene with Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” playing in the background
2. Nor will any other creep infant ever beat the freakiness of Baby Dawn.

Movies like Trainspotting are Not Easy to Find!

The pace, the story, the characters (check out Jonny’s fantastic Trainspotting book analysis for information on each one of them), and the overall feel are the perfect complement for the soundtrack.

But, hey! The good news is that there are some other classics I can recommend which I’m sure you’ll like. Let’s start with a movie based on another novel by Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting.


Sexual Disaster Quartet

‘The Acid House’ (Paul McGuigan, 1998)

The Acid House is a collection of short stories, one weirder than the next.

With titles like Sexual Disaster Quartet, Snowman Building Parts for Rico the Squirrel, and A Smart C*nt, you may think you know what to expect, but really, you don’t.

I think it’s probably one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read; Welsh not only introduced a puzzling style of writing and presenting, he once again managed to create a sharp breed of hardcore Edinburghians.

Paul McGuian’s 1998 film adaption focused on three of the books’ stories: The Granton Star Cause, A Soft Touch, and The Acid House, the latter of which shows an acid-fuelled Freaky Friday type of scenario.

It Looks Like a Regular Comedy at First…

Coco Brice ends up switching bodies with the baby of a middle class couple after he’s struck by a bolt of lightning and what I suspect was a dab of bad acid.

Granton Star Cause may give the impression of a regular comedy at first, but goes a lot deeper than you may think. The crude human manifestation of God is ever present throughout the stories, something the British press didn’t take too kindly.

If you’re looking for more movies like Trainspotting, The Acid House is a good place to start.

I strongly recommend subtitles though – the Scottish accent in the film was “pish”.


Back to the Heroin

‘The Basketball Diaries’ (Scott Kalvert, 1995)

Based on the memoirs of author and musician Jim Carroll, The Basketball Diaries chronicles his taste for heroin and cocaine at the tender age of thirteen.

Finding himself overwhelmed with the world around him, Jim is attracted by the seemingly carefree world of drugs. A budding basketball player, Jim (Leonardo DiCaprio), sees the court as a metaphor for the world.

His mother (Lorraine Bracco) is sick with worry, which adds to Jim’s anxiety and frustration; he stops going home altogether. Turning into a New York junkie, he robs, steals, and whores himself out, chasing his next hit.

Directed by Scott Kalvert in 1995, this movie may be on the slightly more serious side, but if you’re wanting a good movie like Trainspotting, I’d definitely add it to the list – maybe not for the humour, but some beautifully, albeit crassly, portrayed scenes.


Ladies and Gentlemen…Disco Sh*t

‘Blow’ (Ted Demme, 2001)

While the movie Blow (2001) focuses on several central characters including various big time players of the Medellin Cartel such as Pablo Escobar and Carlos Lehder Rivas, the main story revolves around George Jung.

George (Johnny Depp) decides at a young age that he never wants to be poor, despite his father’s (Ray Liotta) efforts to convince him money has no real value. He moves out to Southern California with his best friend, Tuna (Ethan Suplee), as soon as he can.

George starts dating the stewardess, Barbara (Franka Potente), who introduces him to Derek (Paul Reubens), a marijuana dealer.

Things go well and they see possibilities of selling pot outside of California, with Barbara’s help.

They soon step their business up by buying directly from Mexico via a connection to a few minor drug lords. This is when he gets busted…

…the first time. But George doesn’t learn from his situation, and instead, uses prison to re-educate himself and move from ganja to blow.

If you’re looking for similar movies like Trainspotting, Blow fits the bill (find more great similar films here). Cast with brilliant actors like Rachael Griffin, Penelope Cruz and Cliff Curtis, this is another great crazy drug movie.


The Final Shot

So here you have them, a bunch of great movies like Trainspotting.

I’m sure you’ll come across a few others during your search like The Panic in Needle Park and Another Day in Paradise and not to forget, Spun. If you know of any other heroin flicks, I’ll be happy to hear about them.

For now, I want to close this article by dedicating it to Mr. Lou Reed, who contributed to making films like Trainspotting the cult classic it is today, amongst many other things. R.I.P


Two Other Suggestions from our Contributors at itcher

We asked some of our contributors for more movies like Trainspotting and they suggested the following:

‘Twin Town’ (Kevin Allen, 1997)

Another British film.

Deeply troubled, dysfunctional families, and lots of action set the scene for doped-up British suburbia though the perspective of twin brothers.

‘La Haine’ (Mathieu Cassovitz, 1995)

Set in a violent, crime-filled Parisian suburb, the feeling of getting drawn into an inescapable underworld is the same.


What Do You Think?

Tell us in the comments if you can think of any movies to rival the recommendations!

**For a video playlist of the recommendations, please click here.

My name is Roxanne Sancto and I’ll be writing all things music, book and movie related for itcher mag. I also write for New Heroes & Pioneers’ upcoming Festival and Culture magazines, to be launched in the spring of 2014. I am the co-author of The Pink Boots and am currently working on two new novels. I love music, literature, cinema, crafting, yoga and animals.
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