It's L.A. in the late 1980's. While Gordon Gecko's "greed is good" philosophy has been taken to heart, the rich soon find that the rewards their greed gets them, can be taken away just like that.
Detectives Roger Mortis (Treat Williams) and Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) are your standard buddy-cop team: Mortis is a plainclothes, by-the-book officer, while Bigelow is a wild card and jokester. However, we join them at the point where a little of each other's personality has rubbed off on the other. The two are investigating jewelry store robberies where the robbers cannot be killed (at least with bullets, as Mortis demonstrates by running his superior's car into one of the robbers). Mortis' coroner girlfriend finds a drug in the corpse of one of the robbers that belongs to a pharmaceutical giant, sending Mortis and Bigelow on the biggest adventure of their lives.
Once there, Doug finds a weird machine and a horrific biker that attacks him. During the confusion, Roger is thrown into a clean room and the air is sucked out by someone unknown. Doug is too late to save his friend and Roger suffocates.
Roger's girlfriend and Doug find that the strange machine can bring back the dead and Roger is re-animated. He and Doug start investigating the company, but they have one problem; Roger has only 12 hours to find out who killed him before he decomposes. They find ties to a deceased millionaire (Vincent Price) and the head coroner (Darren McGavin), but will they be able to find who killed Roger in time?
From the director of the '89 version of THE PUNISHER, this horror-comedy hybrid should be seen by almost everyone. Treat Williams, trying to break out of doing dramas, accepted the comedic role of Roger Mortis (you may snicker now, if you wish). He does a really good job with it, making a buddy-cop staple a truly human character. The fact that he's backed up with an able cast is nothing to sneeze at, either.
Joe Piscopo, former second banana to Eddie Murphy on SNL, is in top form as Doug Bigelow. The one-liners he spouts throughout the film are actually quite funny, and he plays nicely off Williams.
McGavin is great, as usual, as coroner Ernest McNab. Vincent Price, a welcome prescence in any movie, does great as the late Arthur Loudermilk. Lindsay Frost is merely OK as a woman tied to the pharmaceutcial company, and may be hiding a secret of her own (and this does truly come out of left field).
The writing, while it could've been improved in some spots, is great, providing a good story and some memorable action scenes, including a scene set at a butcher shop where the animals are re-animated.
Mark Goldblatt, a former editor, does just as good a job as he did with THE PUNISHER, directing actors and action scenes with great aplomb.
While the gore and some dark humor may not appeal it to everyone, those who like action films and horror/comedies will enjoy DEAD HEAT.
The good cast and story make it a good rental, and t's reputation as a cult film is truly deserved.
The Movie Data
Director: Mark Goldblatt
Writer: Terry Black
Producers: Allen Alsobrook, David Helpern, Michael L. Meltzer
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