A grindhouse is an American term for a theater that mainly shows exploitation films. According to historian David Church, this theater type was named after the "grind policy", a film-programming strategy dating back to the early 1920s that continuously showed films at cut-rate ticket prices that typically rose over the course of each day. This exhibition practice was markedly different from the era's more common practice of fewer shows per day and graduated pricing for different seating sections in large urban theaters.
The association with a lower class of audience member led grindhouse theaters to gradually become seen as disreputable places that showed disreputable films—regardless of the variety (including subsequent-run Hollywood films) that they showed.
Due to these theaters' proximity to controversially sexualized forms of entertainment like burlesque, the term "grindhouse" has often been erroneously associated with burlesque theaters in urban entertainment areas like 42nd Street in New York City, where 'bump n' grind' dancing and striptease were featured.