A modified 1/10 scale 2wd Associated RC10 off road racer with an off-the-shelf Parma International 1963 Chevrolet Corvette body was used in the famous chase scene in which "Dirty Harry" Callahan is being pursued through the streets of San Francisco, California by a highly explosive bomb disguised as an R/C car. The "bomb" was driven by world-champion race driver Jay Halsey. The car was in fact sold with an electric motor being a competition model, which for cars in that scale was at that time only sold and permitted to enter competitions with electric motors; the internal combustion engine soundtrack were added in post-production.
When Samantha Walker is having dinner with Harry Callahan, she tells about how she has researched his "colorful" police career and then she pulls out a notebook filled with collected headlines. One of those headlines read "Scorpio Killer Captured". Scorpio was the main villain in the first film of the series, Dirty Harry (1971).
According to the documentary on the Special Edition DVD set, the movie critic who gets killed is based upon famed critic Pauline Kael. It was Kael who, when critiquing the first Dirty Harry (1971) film, accused Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood of making a "fascist" and "racist" film. The critic in this film is made up to resemble Kael as she appeared during this film's release as an in-joke.
A number of the crew's names were used as names on "The Dead Pool" Master List of intended victims. These included the director of photography Jack N. Green (as Jack Green), assistant film editor, Michael Cipriano (as Michael Cipriano) and the chief lighting technician, Tom Stern (as Thomas Stern). When Inspector Quan (Evan C. Kim) finds the list on the body of a Chinatown robbery victim, he shows the list to Callahan, and mentions that Michael Cipriano was a racing-car driver.
None of the patrons working out in the gym have any weights loaded on their exercise equipment. This is not a mistake, but most likely intentional because repeated takes in the scene would exhaust the actors.
First of two Clint Eastwood movies which feature a then unknown Jim Carrey. The second would be a cameo in Pink Cadillac (1989) where Carrey is briefly seen performing his "Post-Nuclear Elvis Lounge Act".
The movie's story was conceived by three of Clint Eastwood's friends which he knew through the health and fitness scene. Sandy Shaw, Durk Pearson and Steve Sharon wrote the story with the latter acting as script-writer. This movie is the only ever screen writing credit for all three of them.
When Clint Eastwood made this movie, he was the Mayor of Carmel, California. The picture was was the third and final of three films Eastwood made whilst he was the Mayor of Carmel. The others were Bird (1988) and Heartbreak Ridge (1986).
The production needed a song for the Johnny Squares music-video sequence so they approached affiliate Warner Music who came up with the rock group Guns N' Roses who had an album coming out. The release date of this LP was moved up so that it would coincide with the release of this picture.
The song "Welcome to the Jungle" was used as the rock clip as the music video tie-in (sung by rock star Johnny Squares (Jim Carrey) for this movie's movie-within-a-movie which was called "Hotel Satan". The song also became a music tie-in for the actual film itself, making its use a twofold tie-in.
The use of the song "Welcome to the Jungle" by rock band Guns N' Roses tied-in quite well according to industry insiders because the word 'Guns' of the group connected with the 'Magnum' that Dirty Harry used.
In Australia, this was the first Dirty Harry movie not be 18 certificated, known in this territory as the R-Certificate. The movie got an M rating down under, recommended for persons 15 years and over. Though since this time, the first Dirty Harry (1971) has now been rated on DVD with the new lower rating of MA15+ (Mature Adults, restricted to persons fifteen years and over), whilst the other three films still remain R-rated there on DVD.
In the outdoor elevator action sequence, actress Patricia Clarkson stated how she generally was petrified when the lift was shot at by a blaze of deafening and frightening firepower but was comforted greatly by Clint Eastwood, who as Dirty Harry, covered and protected her. Clarkson has revealed that the bullets from the artillery of uzis were in fact marbles.
The titles and taglines for some of the horror movies directed by Peter Swan (Liam Neeson) mentioned in the film and displayed on movie posters included: HOTEL SATAN ("You check in. You die."); NIGHT OF THE SLASHER ("Evil Hands are Happy Hands"); WITHOUT THE DEVIL ("How does this grab you?"); HELL WITHOUT THE DEVIL; NIGHT OF THE HANGMAN (script only shown) and SHADOWS OF THE DEAD ("Everyone should be afraid of the dark").
The Clint Eastwood film Bird (1988) was shot before this film but launched stateside after The Dead Pool (1988). Bird (1988) filmed during the last quarter of 1987 before The Dead Pool (1988) filmed Feb-April 1988. Bird (1988) was not released in the USA until late September 1988 after The Dead Pool (1988) had debuted for the American Summer season in July 1988. The Warner Brothers studio needed the picture for as a big box-office drawcard for this very lucrative period of the year.
The film's title "The Dead Pool" refers to a list of names, all celebrities, that are intended victims of a serial killer operating in San Francisco. "The Dead Pool" was actually four lists grouped together on a document called the "Master List", and originally it was the paperwork for a fake fictitious game by a horror movie production unit, but gets copycatted by a real life serial killer.
The car chase sequence was inspired by the one in the earlier Steve McQueen movie Bullitt (1968). There was an intention to top that car chase with this film. Reportedly, the sequence is Clint Eastwood's favorite from the movie.
According to the book "Clint Eastwood: Hollywood's Loner" (1992) by Michael Munn, Clint Eastwood once said of this movie: "It's fun, once in a while, to have a character you can go back to. It's like revisiting an old friend you haven't seen for a long time. You figure "I'll go back and see how he feels about things now".
The meat locker / slaughterhouse sequence took around three days to shoot. These scenes shot in Los Angeles and not San Francisco, the only non San Fran shoot for the movie. This filming was done at the very end of principal photography.
As mentioned on the DVD audio-commentary, there was some furor and protest from citizens of San Francisco, whether the city needed and/or wanted another Dirty Harry movie, as it was considered by some that the character was not necessarily an appropriate representative for the City of San Francisco. As such, there was a debate within the city whether it was good public relations to have Dirty Harry reflect the city. The alternate view stated that the character was good for the city despite his anti-hero dimensions, that he was a famous, mythical and legendary symbol of the modern American Cinema, and also that the franchise had been a good advertisement for the locations of the city and its tourism.
The picture is considered to be the fifth and last Dirty Harry movie, at least that Clint Eastwood would star in. There was once a false speculation on the web and in the media that Gran Torino (2008) was going to be the sixth and final Dirty Harry movie, but these rumors proved false, but arguably represented a deep-seated desire from the public for the character to return. According to the book "American Rebel: The Life of Clint Eastwood" (2009) by Marc Eliot, Eastwood has publicly stated that he has no interest making another Dirty Harry film. Eastwood has commented, "Dirty Harry VI! Harry is retired. He's standing in a stream, fly-fishing. He gets tired of using the pole- and BA-BOOM! Or Harry is retired, and he catches bad guys with his walker?".