For the Love of Price: Dead Heat (1988)
And on the seventh day he rested, yep that's right the Bugg is kicking back on Sunday getting another week of horror madness ready for you (and putting the finishing touches on The Bigger & Badder Halloween Top 13. To find out how you can be a part of it, check out my Facebook page and like it and stuff. Speaking of stuff, in my absence, I have a special spooky treat for you. Making her first of two appearances in this Halloween Month, my best pal and yours, Fran Goria with For the Love of Price.
Detectives Roger Mortis (Treat Williams) and Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) are a hard boiled, crime fighting, eighties style duo. They are hot on the trail of some seemingly indestructible criminals. These criminals, as it happens, are not what they seem. Turns out they are the reanimated zombie corpses of former criminals. The trail of justice leads the detectives on a wild ride of grand larceny, zombies, the pursuit of eternal life, and death. Oh, and along the way they need to solve their own murders. Dead Heat is a film that combines two of my favorite things, Vincent Price and zombies…well, sort of. Vincent Price only had a small bit, and the zombies weren't has brain-eating and gross as I like them. But hey, a girl has to take what she can get.
The film was directed by Mark Goldblatt, who also directed 1989’s The Punisher, and not much else. He is an editor, and he worked on many well known big budget films like the first two Terminator films. He also edited Nightbreed and Starship Troopers. With DEAD HEAT’s hip, 80’s stylized screenplay and “witty” dialogue, I’d say he did a fine job directing, although this kind of material really kind of directs itself.
The detective duo of the film is the typical 80’s cop pairing. Williams played the straight laced one, while Piscopo was the edgy guy. Of the two, Piscopo’s performance was the highlight. His days on Saturday Night Live certainly marked him as a comedic entertainer, and he brought this energy to Dead Heat, however his line delivery wasn’t exactly spot on. This is fine for live comedy, but not necessarily for film. Treat Williams, on the other hand, left much to be desired. He was obviously the main character, but he was unable to carry the story. He seemed really quite distant from the character. In my small amount of research for this film, I checked out the IMDB filmography for Mr. Treat Williams. I can honestly say that Dead Heat is literally the only thing I have seen him in. This leads me to wonder how I know his name and face so readily.
The best part of this film for me was Vincent Price (of course). Even though he only had a cameo, he was brilliant as the billionaire obsessed with eternal life. Price saw these kinds of small roles as a personal challenge to his acting skill, and to bring a character to life with such a small amount of time is a challenge indeed. He certainly succeeded here. His character, Loudermilk, was the liveliest of the bunch. His performance really made me wish he had more screen time. Dead Heat was one of his last handful of films, and he was wonderful in his 5 minutes of screen time.
All in all, Dead Heat was an average film. I did enjoy watching it, but I will not watch it a second time. Other than Mr. Price, nothing about the film stands out. It was a mediocre idea with a mediocre cast, but it stills managed to be somewhat worthwhile for one viewing.