Dead Heat (1988)

Dead Heat (1988)

Dead Heat (1988) Finally: a zombie buddy cop film! What a time to be alive.

Ever wonder exactly where tried and true cop tropes come from? 1988’s Dead Heat may not be one of the first, but man does it perpetuate every cliché in the book: the suave, good-looking partner contrasted with the edgy, comic relief bonehead. A bald and mustached lieutenant bemoaning their shenanigans. And gunfire. Lots and lots of overly eager, unnecessary gunfire.

This is hardly a zombie movie: it’s a cop movie with an awful and barely explained decomposing body subplot.

But that’s also my favorite subgenre on Netflix, so there’s only one way out of this supremely messy and under-explained plot. And that’s to shoot ourselves out! **Cops high-five while jumping from exploding building**

Annie Get Your Gun, and Your AK, and Your 9…

Dead Heat 1988


Roger Morris (Treat Williams) is our resident cool cop, and Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) is our resident goof cop. They show up at a jewelry heist, but despite the robbers taking about fifty bullets each from the entire police academy, the criminals continue dancing around. For once it’s not a shitty 80’s non-gore shootout: the criminals are of a more ghoulish variety. One of Roger’s friends named Rebecca (Clare Kirkconnell), works at the morgue, and she reports that the criminals’ bodies were recently checked in.

A preservative in the robbers’ corpses points the Scooby Doo gang to Dante Pharmaceuticals (with a name like that they could only be bad guys). Once inside the premises — and aside from encountering the reanimated corpse of a biker — Morris asphyxiates to death in a decompression chamber where they kill test animals. **Sad trombone**

But — and there’s always a but — Bigelow and Rebecca find the company’s reanimate-a-corpse-o-matic machine and bring back Morris! He vows to have his revenge on the person who killed him (?) and to fully unravel the secret of the company.

Insert Comic Relief Goofball Cop Line

Dead Heat 1988

Dead Heat 1988

If you haven’t caught a whiff of it already, all of this shit is absolutely terrible. Most cringe-worthy are Detective Bigelow’s comedic asides (Upon shooting zombies, Bigelow: “Remember the good old days when guns killed people?” Upon entering the first morning shootout, Bigelow: “A little too early in the morning for this, isn’t it?”). This is the kind of first thing that comes to mind writing you find on South Park when a buddy cop parody is in order.

One thing I will say is that Vincent Price is in one of his final roles here as Arthur P. Loudermilk — the mad scientist behind the reanimating machine. But considering the guy was in more films than Jesus, don’t think of it as a seal of approval. It probably went like this: Vincent Price’s Agent: “Hey Vincey, we’ve got this zombie buddy cop…” Vincent Price: “I’m in.”

Despite one sick corpse decomposing scene (you can basically hear the SFX saying, “Annnd more ink on the skull! Annnd more soapy foam, more soapy foam!”), this is a Hollywood project that begs a fascinating question: how did it get made? You’d think one completely awful creative decision from the get-go would be enough to kill the thing, but it only leads to more. Soon, an avalanche of crap has caused a $5 million snowball that definitely can’t be stopped. In the immortal words of 1996’s Boyzone, “Isn’t it a wonder?”

That said, there is fun to be had here….as long as you know what you are getting into. One of those films that lends itself well to sitting around with a groups of friends and enjoying something knowingly bad, and something that it is packed full of WTF! moments.

Watch Dead Heat below:

Useful links:

Buy the film at Button
Buy the film at Button

Written by: Ben Mueller

  • nightgaunt

    The “complete” film doesn’t work. Been censored?

  • admin

    Probably just pulled from youtube, I’ll look for another copy. Thanks!