10 Movies That Tried To Be Pulp Fiction But Failed Miserably
Every once in a while, a film comes along and changes the game.
When that happens, we see a spree of copy-cats trying to cash in at the box office. Take Quentin Tarantino ’s Pulp Fiction, whose combo of witty dialogue, intense violence, and slightly off-kilter characters influenced movies for years to come.
Of course, one reason that Pulp Fiction is great is that it’s so unique – something that these movies absolutely failed to achieve.
Big City Blues (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 0%
During one night in Miami, a collection of underworld characters are set to collide. All the elements are there: a pair of hitmen, comedy and violence working side-by-side, and intertwining narratives. But this ain’t no Pulp Fiction.
Big City Blues was panned by critics and immediately forgotten by audiences.
8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 10%
A mafioso has eight severed heads in (you guessed it) a duffel bag, and is set to deliver it to his boss. But the bag gets mixed up with that of a medical student on vacation, and hilarity ensues… or it might have, if Tarantino had written and directed this movie. Instead it’s a muddy, humorless slog.
The Boondock Saints (1999)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 26%
If you watched The Boondock Saints as a prepubescent boy, you’re probably offended by its inclusion on this list. But I promise, it’s a lot worse than you remember.
Admittedly Willem Dafoe is fantastic as an FBI agent in hot pursuit of two Irish Catholic brothers on a vigilante mission to wipe out the mob. But the film was panned for its poor plotting, and it’s truly all style with no substance.
Things To Do in Denver When You’re Dead (1995)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%
It’s a tale as old as time… a criminal (Andy Garcia) is out of the game, but he gets dragged back in for what he swears will be the final time. In this case the criminal is Jimmy, and all he has to do is a quick intimidation. Unfortunately things go wrong, two people end up dead, and there’s a hit put on Jimmy’s head.
The cast is fantastic, but not even Christopher Walken and Steve Buscemi can make up for the fact that this is a Tarantino ripoff without any of that director’s humour or cool.
Truth or Consequences, N.M. (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 38%
Kiefer Sutherland directs and stars as Curtis Freley, a trigger-happy criminal who shoots an undercover officer in a drug heist gone wrong. That’s only the first in a series of twists and turns, and although the first half of the movie is sluggish there are some fun set pieces as various forces converge on the hapless criminals.
Pawn Shop Chronicles (2013)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 18%
Almost a trilogy-in-one, this movie features three separate stories that all originate in the same place: a pawn shop.
Another movie with a terrific cast wasted on bad material, Pawn Shop Chronicles drew a lot of Pulp Fiction comparisons due to its loosely connected ensemble of characters.
Unfortunately, those comparisons weren’t good.
Suicide Kings (1997)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 35%
Four students kidnap a mob boss and hold him for ransom. Why? Because one of their sisters was also kidnapped, and they’re trying to get her back.
It sounds like the kind of high-stakes, loony setup that Tarantino might play with, but unfortunately Suicide Kings is awfully convoluted and not much fun. Christopher Walken is the highlight of the movie – and he’s tied to a chair the whole time.
American Strays (1996)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 63%
Remember the iconic diner scene in Pulp Fiction? So did the folks behind American Strays, which makes a desert diner the focal point of three intertwining stories. A masochist, a suicide risk, and a homicidal vaccuum cleaner salesman all converge there, to violent and sometimes hilarious results.
Although it never reaches the level it’s clearly aspiring to, American Strays is probably the most successful on this list when it comes to standing on its own as a Tarantino-esque caper. Certainly it managed a much higher RT score than any of the others.
The Immortals (1995)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 35%
A nightclub owner assembles a ragtag team of criminals for a series of heists. However, it soon becomes clear that they’re being used as pawns in a much bigger and more treacherous game.
Even Chris Rock couldn’t save this movie from taking a swan dive into the obscurity dumpster. With effort, you could probably find a copy somewhere… but it’s really not worth the search.
The Big Hit (1998)
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 41%
Mark Wahlberg stars as sweet-hearted criminal Melvin Smiley, who has the skills of a contract killer but the mentality of a total pushover. When he gets set up to take the fall for a kidnapping gone awry, Melvin has to dodge bullets and survive while keeping his profession a secret from his fiancee.
Perhaps The Big Hit might have fared better if it had been released ten years earlier or later – but in 1998 it was just one more in a long, long string of wannabe crime-thriller-comedies.