Forgotten Friday Flick – “Dead Heat”

Forgotten Friday FlickThe WhySoBlu gang podcast dissected all things horror comedy this week which brings to mind a little past hidden gem well worth bringing up for more than mere movie nostalgia – welcome to Forgotten Friday Flick!  Today we’re heading into odd genre territory for an unconventional tale of cops, killers and the undead.  Mix in the intrigue of an old fashioned detective story, the banter of a buddy/buddy movie and add a pinch of reanimation and you’ve got one of the funniest and strangest flicks ever made.  “Hey, you’re hurt!”  “Lady, I’m f@cking dead!” – it’s time for some…Dead Heat!


LA Detectives Roger Mortis (yes, it sounds like RIGOR mortis!) and Doug Bigelow have been busy lately.  When they’re not dealing with a series of recent violent armed robberies from curious bullet resistant criminals known as the Cash and Dash Gang, they’re getting chewed out by their overbearing boss and playfully bickering as partners often do.  Turns out the few folks they’ve taken down have distinctive body details that scream previously dead, so the two tough cops follow a lead to a local pharmaceutical company.  But they end up in a scuffle with a hideous creature and the hapless Roger winds up dead – but not for long.

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It’s fitting that in its desire to provide a genre shake up, Dead Heat is written by famed screenwriter Shane Black’s brother Terry Black.  Taking inspiration from his law enforcement script savvy brother, but then turning the typical tropes on their proverbial ear, Black manages to blend a cool cop flick with a gore ridden horror movie all under the umbrella of being a comedy and still manages to make it all work.  So that the odd, interesting and off-beat script and story of Dead Heat is a total walk on the wild side – a journey into unchartered cinematic territory.  (And being from Roger Corman’s New World Pictures it’s not all that surprising!)  And wisely Director Mark Goldblatt covers all his movie bases with the best to make sure none of the films’ arousing areas are left out in the cold.  Casting wise his two tough guys of choice playing Dead Heat’s charismatic cops are the sullen Treat Williams (who brings both dramatic legitimacy and goofy monster fun to the work!) and the sarcastic Joe Piscopo (who I’m not a huge fan of – but here he’s damn funny) – a clever comedic clash if ever there was one.  And he fills out the film with everyone from the spirited Darren McGavin to the iconic Vincent Price (hey – this is a horror film too!) to make sure all the elements of Dead Heat stay salty.

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Not to mention that Goldblatt then enlists the gooey practical makeup skills of Steve Johnson to hammer the horror home and it’s impressive even in today’s CGI world.  Ranging from grounded (the stages of William’s decomposition are surprisingly believable!) to groundbreaking (the fate of the fetching Lindsay Frost will haunt you!) to gross out (the scene in the Chinese butcher shop of wonderfully vomit inducing!), Johnson’s wild work only serves to further compliment the wacked out story line.

If you like your genres firmly separated, Dead Heat may be a tad hotter than you can handle.  With tongue placed firmly in cheek, there’s so much movie going on in the film that the average moviegoer might feel a tad overwhelmed.  But for those with an experimental cinematic nature there’s enough wild abandon inside to get the movie blood pumping – the only thing dead in Dead Heat is predictability.

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I'm a passionate and opinionated film critic/movie journalist with over 20 years of experience in writing about film - now exclusively for WhySoBlu.com. Previous sites include nine years at Starpulse.com where I created Forgotten Friday Flick back in 2011, before that as Senior Entertainment Editor for The213.net and 213 Magazine, as well as a staff writer for JoBlo.com. My other love is doing cool events for the regular guy with my company Flicks For Fans alongside my friend, partner and Joblo.com writer James "Jimmy O" Oster. Check us out at www.Facebook.com/FlicksForFans.

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