10 Great Films Set in Seedy Subcultures

A poetry major (Emma Roberts) finances her literary dreams with a gig at a sex shop in Scott Coffey’s new indie comedy, Adult World. For some critics, the story was nothing more than another “oh-poor-me take on post-collegiate struggles in the cold, cruel 21st Century.” Still, we were mostly interested in the setting, which seems ripe for colorful characterizations, as past films set in seedy subcultures have proven. Here are ten movies that ventured to the sordid underground for our amusement and fascination.


Porn Theater/La chatte à deux têtes

While major cities sanitize their former red-light districts, and Internet porn dominates the smut market, XXX theaters are rapidly vanishing. Jacques Nolot invites us into that forgotten world in Porn Theater (aka La chatte à deux têtes), where a Parisian X-rated cinema is a den of sex, but also acceptance. Nolot captures the nightly encounters between unhappily married men, closeted men, lonely men with nowhere else to turn, and transvestites without a judgmental eye. The rituals of these communities are treated with refreshing frankness, and glimpses of conversations between theaters workers give voice to the silent acts taking place under the glow of the big screen.