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Buddy-Cop Horror: Remembering 'Dead Heat '

Dead Heat

Now that the cat's out of the bag about the absolutely hilarious end-credits sequence in 22 Jump Street, we can officially register our disappointment that no horror variations on the buddy-cop formula were offered. (Unless we missed it because we were laughing so hard!) But we can console ourselves by remembering a buddy-cop horror movie that already exists. 

We're not talking about last year's R.I.P.D., which paired Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds as ghost cops from different historical eras out to protect mankind. No, we're thinking of 1988's Dead Heat, which paired Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo as modern-day cops investigating a series of robberies the culprits of which appear impervious to bullets. Detective Roger Mortis (Williams) is killed, but then brought back to life as a zombie with only 12 hours to crack the case before his body dissolves into "some kind of organic stew."

Admittedly, Dead Heat is a strange bird. Like most of the other buddy-cop movies of the 1980s, it's filled with wisecracks and wall-to-wall action, featuring a lot of gunplay and dead bodies. Williams and Piscopo fulfill the "mismatched partners" requirement even before Williams becomes a zombie; Williams is the serious, conservative one, while Piscopo is the motormouthed jokester.

As horror fans, we appreciated the casting of the venerable Darren McGavin and Vincent Price in supporting roles, though we wish the movie had done more with the zombie premise. There's plenty of rotting flesh, some good makeup effects, and even a gruesome "body dissolve" sequence, but overall Dead Heat is more a buddy-cop movie with a twist, rather than a horror movie that revolves around a bizarre premise.

Still, it's definitely one of the weirdest buddy-cop pairings ever, and well worth checking out for yourself -- before or after you watch 22 Jump Street!


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