Mark Goldblatt’s ‘Dead Heat’ (1988): Vinegar Syndrome’s 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray Release

It’s a new year, so that means new Vin Syn releases! Today, we’re talking about Director Mark Goldblatt’s Dead Heat (1988). This action comedy starts off like every other buddy cop movie but quickly turns into quite a disgusting supernatural thrill ride.

Dead Heat was directed by Oscar nominee Mark Goldblatt (The Punisher 1989) and written by Terry Black (Tales From the Crypt TV series). There are a lot of familiar faces here, like Emmy nominees Treat Williams (The Late Shift 1996), Joe Piscopo (Saturday Night Live! TV series), and Darren McGavin (Murphy Brown TV series), plus horror icon Vincent Price (House On Haunted Hill 1959) in one of his final roles, Lindsay Frost (The Ring 2002 – our retro review), and Claire Kirkconnell (The Paper Chase TV series). The gory, animated SFX were headed up by Christina Birkmayer (A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master 1988 – our retro review) through XFX Inc. and Emmy Award winner Todd Masters (Six Feet Under TV series, Slither 2006 – our retro review).

Dead Heat zombies, pons maar, Dawan Scott
Slippery, gooey pool zombies unite!

If you didn’t know better, you’d think you were watching a straight up buddy cop flick when you popped Dead Heat into the VCR. Detectives Roger Mortis (like rigor mortis… get it?), played by Treat Williams, and Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo) are opposites in just about every way, but they’re still best friends and loyal to each other to a fault. Roger is the straightlaced one, always in a suit and sporting a perfect hairdo. Doug is constantly eating, cracking unPC jokes (remember, this was the ’80s when that was still sorta okay), and making everyone around him awkwardly uncomfortable. They do the usual cop stuff, like peel out in their convertible and shoot up jewelry store robbers. It’s not until the county coroner, Dr. Rebecca Smythers (Kirkconnell), realizes that she’s autopsied the two dead again crooks already that things get weird.

Dead Heat, Joe Piscopo, Treat Williams
Cop buddies Roger Mortis (Treat Williams) and Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo)

What Works

The humor, action, and chemistry between the two leads is outstanding here. I honestly can’t believe people don’t talk about Dead Heat more often. This film is so much fun! Right there is a good enough reason to pick this 4k UHD Blu-ray release. Between the gun-wielding undead, the pissed off, reanimated biker with three noses, and the attack from the meat—both whole and chopped up—in the butcher’s shop, this movie is ’80s gold. Plus, Vincent Price is in it!

Vinegar Syndrome, Dead Heat, Vincent Price
A bad guy in a white suit

The restoration itself is simply gorgeous. Check out the comparison below.

Everything looks amazing, right down to the giant liver that attacks Roger’s face. I’m especially impressed with the butcher shop scene. Seeing the bull corpse scrape the ground and charge Doug actually had me giddy.

Vinegar Syndrome, Dead Heat, cow, Joe Piscopo, Doug Bigelow
Look at him in all of his bloody goodness!

This Dead Heat release comes with a ton of fun extras, too. There are two discs included in this region free high dynamic range 4K Ultra HD/Blu-ray set that’s been restored from its original 35mm original camera negative, as well as an archival commentary from Director Mark Goldblatt, Screenwriter Terry Black, and producers Michael L. Meltzer and David Helpern. You also get 6 different interviews with the director, Visual FX Artist Ernest Farino, Composer Ernest Troost, and Make FX Creator Steve Johnson, just to name a few. Plus, there’s deleted scenes, a still gallery, the original trailer, and an archival EPK featurette. You can see the entire list of extras down below.

Vinegar Syndrome, Dead Heat, biker
One, two, three noses…

What Doesn’t Work

I can honestly say that there’s nothing I didn’t like in the Dead Heat Vin Syn release. This movie is perfectly ’80s. I can’t express how much I enjoyed watching it in this beautiful new 4k UHD format.

Vinegar Syndrome, Dead Heat, zombie
Check out that beautiful detail!

Final Thoughts

Dead Heat is a fantastic hidden gem from the ’80s. If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a big favor and pick up this Vinegar Syndrome release before they all sell out. There are only 6,000 copies being made! The 4k Ultra HD quality here is top notch, both in video and in sound. Grab it on Amazon or through the Vin Syn website itself.

Vinegar Syndrome, Dead Heat, Randi James, Lindsay Frost
Not everyone lives to tell the undead tale

From the Vinegar Syndrome Dead Heat page:

This special limited edition embossed slipcover (designed by Earl Kessler Jr.) is limited to 6,000 units and is only available here at!

Detectives Doug Bigelow and Roger Mortis have just tried, and failed, to take down a ring of master thieves who have been targeting high end jewelry dealers. While orchestrating a massive siege, the thieves are violently eliminated; one blown apart and the other crushed. While being autopsied, the forensic pathologist makes an inexplicable discovery: the “dead” men were already dead before being “killed.” In other words, they were zombies. With little information to go on besides the presence of a strange man-made substance in the cadaver’s flesh, Bigelow and Mortis attempt to piece together the mystery, which eventually leads them to a chemical plant, wherein Mortis, true to his name, winds up killed by a hulking zombie. But who’s better to fight zombie criminals than a zombie cop?

A novel take on the zombie film, Oscar nominee Mark Goldblatt’s (The Punisher) directorial debut, Dead Heat is a tightly paced and darkly comedic action-horror film featuring plentiful gore effects and with an all-star cast, headlined by Emmy nominees Treat Williams (Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead), Joe Piscopo (Wise Guys), Darren McGavin (Kolchak: The Night Stalker), alongside horror icon Vincent Price (Theatre of Blood) in one of his final roles. Vinegar Syndrome proudly presents the worldwide 4K UHD debut of Dead Heat, newly restored from its 35mm original negative!

directed by: Mark Goldblatt
starring: Treat Williams, Joe Piscopo, Vincent Price, Darren McGavin, Lindsay Frost
1988 / 84 min / 1.85:1 / English Stereo

Additional Info:
• Region Free 4K Ultra HD / Blu-ray Set
• 4K UHD presented in High-Dynamic-Range
• Newly scanned & restored in 4K from its 35mm original camera negative
• Archival commentary track with: director Mark Goldblatt and screenwriter Terry Black alongside producers Michael L. Meltzer and David Helpern
• “The Building Blocks of Movies” – a brand new interview with director Mark Goldblatt
• “A Thousand Feet of Lightning” – a brand new interview with visual effects artist Ernest Farino
• “Seizing the Opportunity” – a brand new interview with second unit director Patrick Read Johnson
• “How to Edit For An Editor” – a brand new interview with editor Harvey Rosenstock
• “Happy Accidents Happen” – a brand new interview with composer Ernest Troost
• “Dead and Alive” – an archival interview with makeup effects creator Steve Johnson
• Still gallery
• Original theatrical trailer
• TV spot
• Deleted scenes
• Archival EPK featurette
• MIFED promotional piece
• Reversible cover artwork
• English SDH subtitles

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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