In celebration of the holiday season, this week’s pick is the 1984 cult classic Night of the Comet written and directed by Thom Eberhardt. Night of the Comet is a terrific throwback to 1950’s horror and sci-fi with a unique 80s spin to it. The film stars Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Beltran, Mary Woronov, and Geoffrey Lewis.
With Christmas right around the corner, the world prepares for the arrival of a comet that predicts a stellar light show that will be seen all around the world. As billions gather to await the arrival of the comet, a group of scientists have secured themselves in a secret research facility in the California desert fearing that the last time a comet like this arrived on Earth, spelled extinction for the dinosaurs.
Stewart stars as Regina Belmont, a movie theater usher who awakens the morning after the comet passes over a deserted LA. Things seem amiss when Reggie gets locked out of the theater and discovers that her boyfriend, who went to pick up some rare film cans belonging to the theater, has not yet arrived back.
Reggie sees Larry’s (Michael Bowen) motorcycle still parked in the alley and she is attacked by a zombie in overalls. Regina fights him off and takes off on the motorcycle.
While driving through downtown, Reggie becomes more alarmed that she can’t find anyone else. When she arrives at her home, she finds the remnants of a block party and piles of cloths and red dust on the ground. Reggie’s younger sister Sam (Maroney) is also confused as to the recent findings. Reggie is convinced that the comet was responsible for what has happened that morning. Reggie and Sam later discover that the only reason that they survived was that they were indoors when the comet passed over and were spared from its vaporizing effects.
Reggie and Sam arrive at a deserted radio station in hopes of finding other survivors. They encounter Hector (Beltran) a truck driver who asks the both of them at gun point to step into the light so that he can see their eyes. Hector asks them if they have seen any of those “things”, referring to the zombies who came in contact with the comet.
Hector and the girls stay at the radio station and are contacted by the scientists from the desert think tank who plan a rescue mission in order to bring them back to the facility in order for medical attention. Sam who intercepted the call is told to avoid any of the zombie survivors at all costs. Those that came in contact with the comet will eventually disintegrate, but they are dangerous and very unstable.
Night of the Comet is brilliant, funny and a very well made shocker. Stewart, Maroney, Beltran, Lewis, and Woronov are well cast. It is the perfect blend of Sci-fi, comedy, and quintessential 80s fluff. Pistol packing valley girls who fight off zombies is a great formula.
One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Hector temporarily leaves to drive down to San Diego to see if his family has survived. Reggie tells him that she and Sam were trained by their Green Beret father how to use firearms and are well versed in hand to hand combat. In one scene, the girls unload a magazine of ammo onto an old car for target practice. Sam is still dressed in her cheerleader outfit. She turns to Reggie and says, “Daddy would have bought us Uzis.” Reggie replies, “The car didn’t seem to know the difference.”
The second best scene is when the girls go on a shopping spree at a mall. While trying on cloths and foraging for supplies, they encounter a group of zombie ex-stock boys who chase them throughout the mall and plan to execute them for stealing. Reggie holds one of the stock boys hostage after a few of them capture Sam. The head of the zombie stock boys asks Reggie to release the hostage. The leader shoots his lackey. Reggie yells out that he’s crazy. The zombie leader shouts, “I’m not crazy. I just don’t give a fuck.” A very hilarious scene.
The film begins to get a little flat towards the end and it tries to wrap everything up within the 90-minute mark. It’s a very enjoyable slice of 80s cheese and has solidified itself as a true 80s cult classic. Kelli Maroney will always remain adorable in her cheerleader outfit, fully armed with a Mac 10 sub machine gun.
Night of the Comet is available on DVD through MGM/UA Home Video and can be rented through Netflix.