BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – Dead Heat (1988)

Not gonna lie, 3.5 readers.  This one is total garbage, yet the fun kind of garbage…like when you find a fresh eclair sitting on the top of the garbage, right there on a paper plate ala George Costanza and you debate whether or not to eat it.  (Don’t eat it, especially in this day and age.)

My coronavirus 1980s B movie marathon continues with this little gem that honestly, I had forgotten for a long time.

When I was watching “They Live” the other day, it made me think of a scene from a movie I saw when I was a kid where two undead zombie cops, after dying on the job, walk off into heaven, cracking jokes all the while.

For a second, I thought “They Live” was what I was thinking of, but it wasn’t.  So I did a deep dive on google and figured out what I was looking for was the 1988 crapfest Dead Heat.

It stars Joe Piscopo and Treat Williams as Detectives Doug Bigelow and Roger Mortis (cheesy, I know.)  When they respond to the scene of a jewelry heist only to find two masked gunmen who are able to survive despite being shot a ridiculous number of times, they find themselves hopping down a rabbit hole of intrigue, mystery and absurdly dark humor.

Long story short, Mortis is killed during the investigation, only to be brought back to life by the crime ring’s resurrection machine.  Alas, the machine is not foolproof, and Mortis has 12 hours to solve his own murder before he croaks for good.  A running joke is that his face and body fall apart throughout the film.

It’s morbid.  It’s downright sick in some parts.  A strange side trip to a restaurant leaves the duo fighting off undead cow and duck carcasses that were brought back to life after being stored in the meat locker.

Not gonna lie.  The plot is dumb.  The writing is dumb.  The jokes are so corny they are funny.  The special effects are lousy by today’s standards though for its time, not that bad.  Piscopo always got a bad rap as an unfunny comedian but I thought he actually pulled this movie together.

Vincent Price and Darren McGavin of Ralphie’s Dad in a Christmas story fame star as the film’s villains.  At some point, I lost track of what they were up to other than it is some sort of cabal of rich folk paying big bucks so they can live forever.  How that ties in to the undead jewelry robbers is beyond me.

I’ll admit though the movie starts out strong and finishes strong, I found the middle lagging, especially because Piscopo’s character disappears for a good chunk at that time.  At the middle point I found myself yawning and wishing for it to be over, but it redeems itself at the end when Mortis basically becomes a full fledged zombie, running around, absorbing bullets and beatings without a care in the world.

Unfortunately, this is one bad B movie that is probably destined for the toilet of cinema history.  At first, I had a hard time finding it until my smart TV suggested I could watch it for free on some app I’d never heard of called Tubi.  This movie has to be given away just to keep it alive, pun intended.

STATUS:  Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again and I admit, some of these 80s movies seem funnier as a kid only as an adult I look back and think, “Holy shit.  How did I get so old.  Was I really alive when the world looked like this and made movies like this?”

At any rate, it’s worth a peak.  Maybe get up in the middle to get some popcorn and go to the bathroom.  Wash your hands to avoid the COVID.  And Piscopo gets a bad rap because he was good in this.  He has some of the cheesiest jokes imaginable, but he delivers them with great enthusiasm, like he was hired to do a job and damn it, it doesn’t matter if this movie sucks, he’s going to smile and deliver those crap lines with as much gusto as he can.

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