How do you fight undead robbers? With undead cops, of course!
Treat Williams plays L.A. police detective Roger Mortis (No, really, that’s his name) with partner Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo!) as they investigate why they can’t seem to kill the bad guys as effectively as they used to. These investigations lead them to Dante Laboratories, which has developed a process for resurrecting the dead for twelve hours. After a losing fight with the fattest zombie this side of Zombieland, Mortis is killed. But, then brought back to life by his coroner ex-girlfriend (Clare Kirkconnell) and the most user-friendly resurrection machine ever. Now, Mortis has twelve hours to solve the case and avenge his own death in a Hawaiian shirt.
Written by Terry Black , Shane’s brother, Dead Heat has a similar action/comedy feel to his brother's Lethal Weapon, but with zombies. And such zombies they are! The opening jewelry store heist features two punk zombie robbers wearing BDSM leather masks! (Their safe word is “Braaaaaaiiiiinnnnnssssss.”)
But this is nothing compared to the undead hijinks that occur at a Chinese restaurant. You know all the dead ducks that are hanging in the window? Or the pigs? Or the sides of beef? Yeah. Good times. Wait, no, I mean gross times. Very, very gross. How do you kill zombie animals with no heads?
Throughout, Williams grounds the whole movie with the ability to take anything that is thrown at him seriously. The man is not phased by anything. This is a valuable skill when Joe Piscopo (with an 80s mullet) is delivering some of the best wise-ass remarks in the history of motion pictures. Watching this film, it’s hard to understand why Piscopo did not fare better in Hollywood. The man is a scream. Especially during an exchange with Williams that shows the deep, profundity of cross-dressing jokes between two partners. Police partners, I mean. Heterosexual police partners, I mean. You get the idea.
Added into the mix are performances by the always entertaining Vincent Price(!), Darren McGavin, Keye Luke , and Robert Picardo. These appearances are almost cameos but they’re all memorable.
In fairness, the movie does play more like it was made for TV, as opposed to a big budget feature but I think this adds to its charm. Similar to Creepshow . Dead Heat is a great little horror flick to enjoy on a Saturday afternoon.