“Dead Heat” is one of those semi-forgotten ’80s horror-comedies that’s actually a lot of fun, even if it never becomes great, like “Haunted Honeymoon” or “Saturday the 14th”. Much to my surprise, I found that Joe Piscopo and Treat Williams make for an entertaining buddy-cop duo: Piscopo’s raw, working-class-man’s-man persona works well for his role here, even as he’s largely playing straight man to Williams, who has the showier role as an unlikely loose cannon of an officer who turns into a smart-mouthed zombie investigating his own death. For the majority of the movie’s running time it’s a fairly basic, funny-enough mainstream buddy-cop comedy that seems like a cross between “Armed and Dangerous” and “An American Werewolf in London” (but with a zombie instead of a werewolf). However, when the horror elements kick in, the movie becomes above-average: The gore effects are impressively well done with a variety of gooey practical effects that positively ooze of glee on the part of the special makeup effects crew, and the movie comes alive in those scenes. So while it’s not exactly an unjustly forgotten masterpiece, it’s a helluva good time for its core audience.
Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)