This Turkey For Hire

The Worst and Most Disappointing P.I. Films

Okay, I know they can't all be The Maltese Falcon or Chinatown. But these flicks are so bad, so stupid and so poorly-conceived it makes you wonder...

Mind you, it also has to do with expectations. You don't expect much from some straight-to-cable or straight-to-DVD offering, but most of the following were actually released in theatres...

On purpose.

It's hard to say which film is worse. The misguided, clumsy African pride of the third Shaft flick couldn't hide a ridiculous plot or the often offensive stereotypes displayed towards women and various races and nationalities (including Africans), and completely missed out on the first two films' dated but still vibrant gritty urban vibe and the "I'm Black and I'm Proud" big city swagger.
But nobody really expected the original Shaft films to be more than entertaining B-films, done on the cheap. The 2000 remake was a big-bucks affair, stacked with A-listers such as screenwriter Richard Price, actor Samuel Jackson and director John Singleton (all of whom I respect greatly). By all accounts, it should have rocked, and certainly expectations were high. But it was every bit as dumb, heavy-handed and inept as Shaft in Africa. When the dramatic high point of your film is a reprise of the almost thirty-year old theme from the original film (whose lyrics don't even make sense anymore), you know you're in big trouble.

Originally shot for German television, nobody was doing anybody any favours when this gobbler was subsequently released to theatres in North America. Sam Fuller's reputation as a filmmaker may be as high as it is because so few saw this one. Inept and amateurish, and done near the end of his career.

A movie even more stupid than its title.

It's a wonder co-screenwriter Oliver Stone ever worked again. What a waste of a great book. The hellish claustrophobia of Scudder's NYC, awash in alcoholism and violence that figured so prominently in Lawrence Block's original novel is replaced by the meandering, sun-dappled LA daze of a pre-Lebowski slacker played by Jeff Bridges makes you wonder what the occasional haze in some of the shots actually was.

The cock-eyed allusion to a Neil Young song is the sole evidence of any intelligent life involved with this one, folks.

It doesn't just STAR Wungs Hauser -- it was DIRECTED by him. Vanity movie-making at its most inept.

Starring David Keith and Pamela Anderson, but not all boobs involved in this one were in front of the cameras.

  • 8MM (1999, Columbia) ....

"Just a bad, awkward piece of film that was wasted on what could've been a solid P.I. premise. There's a line between hard-boiled and sadistic. And this movie left that line laying bleeding and twitching in the street after half an hour, along with my brain." The neo-noir brigade probably loves it.

A straight-to-streaming bit of cheese starring Bruce Willis; the cinematic equivalent of a self-published novel by an enthusiastic wannabe whose only reference point is other straight-to-streaming crime movies starring Bruce Willis. In this one Willis plays Venice beach P.I. Streve Ford on the hunt for his missing dog. Not even the prescence of John Goodman could save this one.

Okay, we're just getting started on this one. But feel free to contribute your own suggestions.

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