Review: Dead Heat (1988)

05 Oct

This low-budget film has the look of something made for television about it. I thought I was in the mood for something light and fluffy but this film is far too lightweight for me. Right off I’ll just say that anyone  wh is looking for horror, gore or scares move on. This is a very lightweight action comedy

Roger Mortis (Treat Williams) and Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) are a pair of cops, Roger is the smart one and Doug is the crude horny man-child. They go to a jewellery robbery and wait outside the jewellers for the thieves to emerge with along half of the city’s police force, all with their gun trained the door. When the thieves come out shooting they get shot several times but they don’t go down and keeping shooting back. Lots of cops are getting shot and there is widespread property damage. Naturally it’s up to the buddy cops to save the day. Roger does something really risky with a car that I really can’t remember and Doug shoot a grenade out one of the crook’s hands. Lieutenant Doctor from Star Trek Voyager (Robert Picardo) shouts at them for stopping the crooks before they had killed enough cops and blown up a large bit of the city.

Back at the police station they get shouted at for doing their job by their Captain who admits he’s only doing it to keep the Lieutenant happy and  really because it has to be done in every buddy cop movie and the writer could not be bothered giving him a real reason. Then he puts them in charge of investigating these violent high risk robberies by what has been nicknamed the “Cash and Dash gang”. Their first stop is the morgue to speak to hot pathologist Dr Rebecca Smythers (Clare Kirkconnell). She seems to have expected something from Roger and I got the feeling I must have missed an earlier episode, the same one where an eleven year old boy’s brain was transplanted into Doug’s body. Rebecca tells them that she found that the bodies have autopsy scars and she did the autopsies. Dr McNab (Darren McGavin) the coroner walks in and he claims that she must have made a mistake (seriously!?).

Rebecca tells them she found some sulfathiazole in the bodies. Apparently in Los Angeles this common old-fashioned anti-microbial agent is rare and most of it is used by Dante Pharmaceuticals. They go there and get met by Randi James (Lindsay Frost) [credit for the character name] who is in charge of PR. She shows them around the labs and makes a point of showing them a chamber they use for killing animals and you know this is going to be important later.

Doug dodges off with that old toilet excuse and takes a look around at things not on the official tour. He finds a secret door into a big science fiction machine with body lying in it. He gets attacked by thing on the machine which has a head that is just wrong. I think it only had two eyes but it had three noses and the mouth was like two mouths joined together. There’s an extended fight scene which takes them back to Roger and Randi out in the corridor. Somehow in the confusion Roger gets pushed and locked in the death chamber and while Doug fights big monster- face Roger dies. On no! The star of the film is dead what are they going to do? Leave us with Joe Piscopo for the rest of the film? Fortunately there’s an insane solution. Rebecca has just turned up with a bunch of cops. She puts Roger’s body into the machine that she knows nothing about and turns it on. Sparks fly and the body spasms then when the machine stops Roger wakes up.

Nobody seems to be all that excited about the fact they have a machine that can resurrect the dead but then they under-react to everything in this film. Rebecca gives Roger an examination and can’t find a heartbeat. McNab is there (for some reason) and he also tries to find a heartbeat and can’t. I don’t remember what feeble excuse he gives but everybody knows it means Roger is dead. Rebecca gives him even worse news by telling him he is decaying and will melt into a puddle of goo in 12 hours.

After Roger has put on make-up and lipstick to cover up his deathly pallor they go to Randi’s giant expensive house and catch her packing to get out-of-town. The place gets shot up by a couple of zombies who then attack them, but Roger and Doug manage to stop them in the swimming pool. They find a video from Laudermilk (Vincent Price) the recently dead boss of Dante and she’s now claiming to be his daughter. She tells them about some connection to  Mr Thule, owner of a butcher’s shop in the Chinatown area of the city. They insist Randi comes with them to see Mr Thule.

The scene at the  butcher’s shop isn’t any less stupid than anything else in the film but it is almost the only part that might be a little disturbing for young kids. They get to the shop and want to see Mr Thule. Soon Mr Thule appears but all he does is switch on a smaller resurrection machine hidden in his chandelier. All the meat in shop come to life and starts attacking Doug and Roger while Mr Thule and his butcher escape. I really don’t what is more ridiculous, Roger being attacked by flying livers or by a huge cow carcass that bursts dramatically from the freezer. Doug manages to finally shoot the machine and it all dies down again.

Anyway there’s a lot of going places and finding things and listening to Joe Piscopo’s anti-jokes. Eventually Roger takes Randi to check out her father Laudermilk’s grave. In his tomb Roger sees numbers written on a lampshade? Roger figures that it is a clue but who is supposed to have left it? It is some of code he hasn’t figured out yet. They drive back to Randi’s where they had left Doug. The TV is on and the 1950 classic D.O.A. is on just in case you don’t recognise the influence. Randi admits she met Laudermilk at hospital and is not his daughter. They also find Doug dead, drowned in a fish tank.

Next scene is another one of the film’s more disturbing ones. Randi goes to take a shower and when Roger goes to check on her she reveals that she was resurrected by the machine too. Laudermilk promised her it was permanent but he lied. She starts to decay and the process is very rapid. She falls apart and crumbles into bones and goo. Roger freaks out. Then he figures out what the code meant

He rushes to the morgue and confronts the coroner McNab, the evil mastermind behind everything. He denies it and keeps Roger talking long enough for a zombie to grab him. He gets shoved into an ambulance with body of Rebecca [poor, quickly forgotten Rebecca] and cuffed to trolley she is on. They reckon he’ll soon be rotting away and  just leave him to die again. Roger manages to release the brakes with his foot and the ambulance free-wheels down the hill into the traffic before crashing in flames. An emergency crew turns up to clear up the mess, but get a shock when the still smouldering body of Roger gets out of his body bag.  He flashes his badge at a terrified cop and takes his gun and motorcycle and rides off to the film’s big climax.

At Dante Pharmaceuticals McNab is giving a presentation to select group of very rich coffin dodgers, saying that he can give them immortality. They are sceptical and so he introduces Laudermilk who is not dead (but is he really resurrected? or was he never really dead?) He takes over the sales speech and it is nice to see the old ham in action even in a cheesy film like this.

Meanwhile Roger is slaughtering his way through Dante’s security and he gets up to the room with the machine. Bullets start flying everywhere and guards shoot at him and he fires back while the rich people run away and Laudermilk hides in the corner. McNab realises it’s just him and Roger left and turns on the machine.

It resurrects Doug but he’s a mindless zombie obedient to McNab who tells him to kill Roger. He repeats the order over and over again while attacking Roger and I’m sure that bit has been stolen from an Abbott and Costello sketch or a Warner Brothers cartoon. Roger reminds Doug that he’s always been stupid and mindless which magically breaks McNab’s spell over him and they both turn on McNab .

McNab panics and shoots himself before they can get to him. Doug is disappointed but Roger has really obvious idea. They put McNab on the machine and resurrect him then give a double dose he blows up, spraying chunks everywhere.

This is just one of those dumb cocky films that thinks it a lot funnier than it is. It is crude and callous and I feel sorry for the real actors who appeared in it like Darren McGavin, Treat Williams and especially Vincent Price. I don’t recommend this to anyone as a failed comedy is one of the worst types of film to sit through.

Rating 4/10


Posted by on October 5, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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2 responses to “Review: Dead Heat (1988)

  1. Maryanne Martinat

    October 21, 2011 at 7:28 am

    My spouse and I stumbled over here coming from a different web page and thought I should check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to looking over your web page for a second time.


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