Awfully Good: Dead Heat

Dead Heat (1988)

Director: Mark Goldblatt
Stars: Treat Williams, Joe Piscopo, Lindsay Frost

Is there a plot?

When criminals begin using zombies to commit crimes, the only way to fight back…zombie cops!

What's the damage?

You just know DEAD HEAT was born out of a studio meeting where someone thought up the title first. (“Hey, DEAD HEAT, get it?!”) Then came the tagline—"The biggest murder case of their lives…their own."—and finally the name of the main undead character, Roger Mortis. And as they say, the rest is history for this forgotten classic.

Katie Holmes Face can stroke strike when you least expect it!

Nothing says quality like Joe Piscopo or Treat Williams and DEAD HEAT gives you both together. The result is an Awfully Good buddy cop movie that recalls cinema's classic pairings. (Interesting enough, writer Terry Black is brother to LETHAL WEAPON and KISS KISS BANG BANG writer Shane Black.) Treat Williams plays the straighter man of the two (you can tell because he wears a suit and Piscopo wears a leather jacket), though he has no problem embracing the silliness i.e. wearing Mulberry Wine lipstick. However, the real star (and I never thought I'd say this) is Joe Piscopo. The one time "Saturday Night Live" comedian has a neverending stream of incredible one-liners and all of them are eye-rollingly terrible amazing. Piscopo can’t even walk down the street in this movie without being a smart ass. ("Oh, a library. I've never been inside one of those!") It's truly a treat for the ears and eyes. Everyone from Darren McGavin (the dad from A CHRISTMAS STORY and BILLY MADISON) and horror legend Vincent Price provide back up, but Piscopo and Williams don't need it.

Harry Knowles doesn't have to do much to dress up for Halloween.

DEAD HEAT is pretty ballsy too, seeing as the movie kills its main character in the first 15 minutes. (That's not a spoiler.) Williams is inadvertently murdered while helping Piscopo fight off a zombie that looks eerily like a three-eyed Harry Knowles. Luckily he dies pretty much right next to a machine that reanimates corpses. The catch—he only has 12 hours before his body decomposes, which he of course uses to catch the man responsible and his army of undead followers, instead of saying goodbye to his loved ones or trying to get laid. (By the way, to make Williams look dead, they just put dark eyeliner on him.)

A rare look at where Raiden sleeps.

Now typically in these movies, the cops don’t follow the rules because they're badasses. Here, Williams is deceased so human rules and laws really don't apply to him anymore. This leads to many hilarious undead action scenes. There's zombies with machine guns just unloading in to each other without consequence. (Apparently DEAD HEAT is set in a world where no one knows to aim for the head.) Zombies get blown up, electrocuted and stabbed repeatedly. There's even some ridiculous John Woo motorcycle stunts and gunplay. However, my favorite part of the movie also gets my vote for most creative use of zombies ever. Williams and Piscopo are in a Chinese restaurant when the evil owner turns on his Reanimation Device, which brings all the dead animals back to life. That's right—our heroes have to fight zombie food! They must battle chicken wings, Peking duck, a roast suckling pig, and a really pissed off uncooked liver as the entire buffet goes full-on walking dead. (Even the unborn fetuses inside some nearby eggs explode violently.) The big baddie of the scene features an entire skinless cow torso that was hanging in the freezer. You just can't ask for anything better than this.

Let's get Treat Williams in to MovieHotties.com! Who's with me?

DEAD HEAT is a lot of fun all the way through the ending, which proves that even in death, you still can't have too many one-liners.

"Best" Line

Some of Joe Piscopo's greatest one-liners.

"Best" Parts

1) A collection of DEAD HEAT's best undead action moments (including Zombie Harry Knowles!).

2) A poor girl goes full zombie and graphically decomposes before Treat Williams' eyes.

3) The best part of DEAD HEAT, where our heroes must fight an evil zombie Chinese buffet!

Nudity Watch

You get a quick flash of decomposing zombie boob. Yay!


Add a little more Piscopo in your life! Buy this movie here!

Play Along at Home!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • Joe Piscopo makes a bad one liner
  • Piscopo says something is disgusting or gross
  • Someone decomposes
  • A person or a car explodes

Double shot if:

  • The DEAD HEAT theme song plays!

Thanks to Super Marcey for suggesting this week's movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.

Source: Digital Dorm
Tags: awfully good



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