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DEAD HEAT (director: Mark Goldblatt; screenwriter: Terry Black; cinematographer: Robert D. Yeoman; editor: Harvey Rosenstock; music: Ernest Troost; cast:Treat Williams(Roger Mortis), Joe Piscopo (Doug Bigelow), Lindsay Frost (Randi James), Darren McGavin (Dr. Ernest McNab), Vincent Price (Arthur P. Loudermilk), Clare Kirkconnell (Rebecca Smythers), Keye Luke (Mr. Thule), Robert Picardo (Lieutenant Herzog), Martha Quinn (Newscaster), Professor Toru Tanaka (Butcher); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Michael Meltzer/David Helpern; Lions Gate Entertainment; 1988)
That it is awkwardly conceived, the premise is absurd and it’s just not funny, are its major flaws.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A low-brow misfire sci-fi comedy, that tries to remind the viewer of the great noir film DOA and the horror pic The Night of the Living Dead. Poor pacing by the former editor, the inexperienced director Mark Goldblatt(“The Punisher”), is just one of its major flaws. That it is awkwardly conceived, the premise is absurd and it’s just not funny, are its major flaws. It’s crassly written by Terry Black.

In LA, two moronic buddy cops, the clean-cut Roger Mortis (Treat Williams) and the muscular wisecracking Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo), have been victimized by the dangerous madman Arthur P. Loudermilk (Vincent Price). He’s the leader of a crime ring who possesses a machine that can bring the dead back to life. The machine is used on his goons, so his already dead gang can never get killed while actively committing crimes against their rich victims. When Roger is asphyxiated by the gang while investigating their illegal activities, he’s then roasted in the resurrection machine and turned into a zombie with 12 hours to live before returning to the dead. The big joke is that he’s slowly decomposing while chasing down the bad guys and trying to get revenge.

The money shot is played out in a butcher shop where all the meat is restored to life.

The FX by Steve Johnson deserve kudos for the strange visual effects. Darren McGavin as a corrupt coroner is worth a look. But the one-note unimaginative flick is not worth a damn.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”