May 6, 1988 (U.S.A.)
Treat Williams as Det. Roger Mortis
Joe Piscopo as Det. Doug Bigelow
Lindsay Frost as Randi James
Darren McGavin as Dr. Ernest McNab
Vincent Price as Arthur P. Loudermilk
Clare Kirkconnell as Dr. Rebecca Smythers
Have you ever watched a buddy cop movie and thought to yourself “You know what this needs? Zombies!” Well then, Dead Heat would be the perfect movie for you! This is an interesting little, sometimes-overlooked film that really brings innovation to the genre. I must say too, this is a personal guilty pleasure of mine as well. Equal parts comedy, action and horror; this little 80s B-movie is fun on a bun overall!
The story follows Los Angeles cops, Detectives Mortis (Treat Williams) and Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) who have come across something very odd; Criminals who refuse to go down from just a few measly bullets. The fact that the guys were already in the morgue once make for a particularly interesting case. The lawmen end up tracking the phenomenon back to a scientific facility that is harboring a dead-resurrecting machine and before they can dig too much deeper, the guys get in a shootout (one of many in the film) and fight with security and big zombies. During the scuffle, Mortis gets locked in a decompression chamber and is killed by a mysterious stranger. Despite the huge crime scene, Bigelow and their sexy morgue attendant friend manage to sneak off and put Mortis’ body in the machine and resurrect him. Zombie cop is born!
From this point on, we get to deal with the whole good cop/dead cop thing and the hilarity ensues as the two try to get to the bottom of the case with help from their morgue attendant friend and a shady lady from the research facility with a big secret. Mortis starts to literally fall apart throughout the film and we get many, many more zombie fights, gun fights, explosions. mullets and general 80s awesomeness! There’s even a scene with Professor Toru Tanaka (another genre favorite) at a Chinese butcher shop, where all of the dead ducks, pigs and other animals are resurrected to fight our heroes. We also get a very important part from one of the greatest figures in horror, Vincent Price, in one of his last film roles. What’s not to like?
The effects are actually very well done throughout Dead Heat and we get some surprisingly good zombie and gore scenes. Joe Piscopo is one of the elements that holds the film together most (hmm, never thought I would say those words!) with his constant one liners and smartass remarks. Treat Williams on the other hand takes the lead very well and is entertaining enough on his own. There is plenty of excitement and twists and turns to keep anyone entertained, especially if you love awesome 80s cheese!
Dead Heat is highly recommended, especially for those getting started in the horror genre. For the rest of us, a guilty pleasure just might be waiting for you with this film.