Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dead Heat (1988)

Title: Dead Heat (1988)

Director: Mark Goldblatt

Cast: Treat Williams, Joe Piscopo, Vincent Price


For me, Dead Heat was one of those movies I saw as a kid during a late midnight showing on cable and never saw again for the rest of my life. Recently I’ve started getting extremely nostalgic about things I loved during my childhood and I want to reconnect with all those obscure movies that amused me as a kid. This was one of those movies.

Story goes something like this: zombie criminals are popping up all over L.A! That’s right! Zombie criminals! Unstoppable and un-killable machines of mayhem. And it’s up to two buddy cops Roger Mortis and Doug Bigelow to stop them! But how the hell do you stop walking dead criminals? And who’s putting them out there? And more importantly how the hell are they reviving the dead?

There’s a couple of good things going on for this movie, and a couple of bad ones. First up, it’s a cheese fest. This movie is a prime example of just how insane movies in the 80s where. They’d really go out there with their plots and storyline, and gotta tell you, I kind of miss that bravado to do such a zany movie as this one. This movie was written by Shane Blacks brother, Terry Black. For those of you not in the know, Shane Black wrote the Lethal Weapon movies and most recently wrote and directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. But it was his brother Terry Black who wrote this zany crazy twist on the buddy cop formula. What’s so zany about it you may ask? Well just imagine what a Lethal Weapon movie would be if it had zombies in it! And just imagine if Mel Gibson suddenly turned into a zombie and had to fight the bad guys as a zombie! Well in this movie we have Treat Williams in the role of the tough guy goody cop. He gets his nose just a little to close to the bad guys operation so what do they do? They kill him! And what does his buddy Joe Piscopo do? He uses the bad guys resurrection machine to bring him back! That’s where the movie gets interesting. We now have a zombie cop in our movie!

Roger Mortis may be dead, but his still every bit of a cop he was when he was alive and now he has to fight the clock to stay alive! He only has 12 hours before his body completely decomposes and turns to dust! So the movie turns into a race against the clock to try and solve the mystery of the zombie criminals before he turns into a walking bag of bones. In the mean while, as we figure things out, we get Joe Piscopo spewing one liners like there’s no tomorrow. It’s kind of funny to see him trying to do the party loving smart mouth cop. Counting how many one liners he throws out you through out the course of the film will make for a great drinking game!

This movie has some decent make up effects work. Make up effects guru Steve Johnson supplies us with some really good visual gags that still look cool to this day. Bodies decomposing, melting, rotting, we get some really good looking zombies, we get mutants, you name it we get it on this movie. One particular scene really stands out and it goes into Big Trouble in Little China territory if you ask me (and that aint a bad thing!) when Roger Mortis and his pal Doug head over to china town to investigate this resurrection machine hoopla. What they encounter is an old Chinese fellow who has a restaurant…and a resurrection machine of his own! When Roger and Doug snoop around a little too close for comfort the old man turns on his resurrection machine! And that’s when all the dead animals that are lying around in the restaurants meat locker and kitchen come to life! Pretty soon Roger and Doug find themselves fighting dead ducks! Livers! dead fish…and a giant side of beef! Its one of the craziest things you’re ever going to see on any movie, ever! This scene alone is worth the price of admission.

On the down side, while watching this movie you kind of get the feeling your watching an episode of TJ Hooker or something. In other words, you feel like your watching a tv cop show from the 80s, but with cool zombie make up effects. The dialog and the script can get really bad sometimes, but I guess you can have some fun with that, its part of this movies charm. But if your willing to accept the fact that this is a cheesy b-movie, I don’t think you’ll mind much cause you’ll probably be having too much fun with the zombie gags, and with Piscopo’s one liners. Its also cool to see how Treat Williams slowly decomposes and turns through out the course of the movie more and more into a zombie! And its even cooler to see how he uses this to his advantages. You see, he doesn’t care about dying, so he can really go all out in trying to stop the bad guys. As an added bonus, Vincent Price makes an appearance in the movie. He doesn’t have much screen time, but he does play an important character. Anyhows, no matter how you look at it, this movie is a fun ride. I recommend it to zombie fans, and lovers of the Lethal Weapon series of films. This movie works as a parody of those films. Also to people who can withstand high levels of cheese.

Rating: 3 out of 5

#1 Sign that you are in an 80s cop movie: Mullets and Guns!


Mr. Fiendish said...

This was one of the first zombie films I ever saw and I still find it hilarious and cool, even if Joe Piscopo is in it. It's got a lot of action and cool special effects.

Franco Macabro said...

My first zombie movie: Dawn of the Dead (1979) my crazy dad took me to see it. Gave me nightmares for years!

I Like Horror Movies said...

I love this one in all its cheesy 80s glory, Treat is such a unique and effective character actor! The FX work in the Chinese restaurant blew me away, I never expected anything like it in what I expected to be a dumb buddy cop flick.

Franco Macabro said...

Agree Carl, the chinese restaurant sequence is the stand out sequence in the film, so completely out there. I never thought Id see a guy fighting a huge side of beef come to life in a movie.

I also liked it cause it felt a bit like Big Trouble in little China, mixing the supernatural with the oriental. I love that mix! And I love Big Trouble in Little China. Huuuge fan.

Ty said...

Really enjoyable flick! Got to love Treat and the practical effects!

Also check out my site: for more direct to video craziness!


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