Night of the Comet (1984)
Night of the Comet
Directed by Thom Eberhardt
Cast: Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Roberto Beltran, Mary Woronov
I was still a snot-nosed little twerp when I first saw the commercial for Night of the Comet playing on the living room TV. I remember thinking to myself, “Cool, a movie where kids inherit the Earth. That would be fun.” Little did I know the only reason these kids get handed the keys to our planet is because everyone else has either turned into a pile of dust or become zombies. Bummer. This was way back in 1984, and I wasn’t exactly in the position to choose which movies my family went out to see at the Albuquerque 6. As a result, it wasn’t until much later that I was able to catch the flick as a rental. But for a kid brought up on Herschell Gordon Lewis, George Romero and Lloyd Kaufman movies, it was well worth the wait. Now, thanks to MGM, the wait is over for all of us.
As the film opens, a wicked-cool voice-over informs us that the Earth’s orbit is about to bring it directly into the tail of a massive comet—an event which has not happened in more than 65 million years. (Right around the time the dinosaurs disappeared. Hmmm.) This has prompted a worldwide celebration, complete with comet parties on every corner. Enter Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Samantha (Kelli Maroney), two valley girl sisters who spend their time looking out for each other while Dad is away in Central America and their slutty stepmom is busy getting it on with the neighbor. But while everyone else is partying the night away, Regina is stuck working a late shift at the local movie theater and Samantha spends the night in a storage shed after getting smacked around by the evil stepmom. They emerge from their confines the next morning only to find that the entire city of Los Angeles has been deserted. Well, there are those strange piles of dust where people used to be—-and zombies. Lots of ’em.
After a rough encounter with one of the zombies, the sisters hole up in a radio station where they meet Hector (Roberto Beltran), a streetwise Chicano who has also survived the comet-induced apocalypse. Together, the trio set out to discover what the hell has happened to the rest of the world--battling various zombies and even other survivors along the way. Add to this an underground bunker full of scientists (including the always-welcome screen legend Mary Woronov) who are busy gathering survivors for some sinister purpose, and we have the ingredients for one kick-ass drive-in classic.
Not since The Toxic Avenger has a film been so recognizable as a product of the ’80s. Every frame oozes with the glossy cheese of that self-important decade. Hell, I half-expected some jerkoff from VH1 to pop up in the corner of the screen to wax nostalgic about the movie a couple of times. Of course, one of the reasons Night of The Comet works so well is that it plays like a really cool ’80s coming-of-age flick—only with zombies and a government conspiracy. Think of it as a John Hughes movie where John Cusack is trying to eat Molly Ringwald’s brain and you pretty much have it.
The DVD has a nice widescreen presentation of the flick and a cherry sound mix, but that’s all we get in this bare-bones disc. Considering the cult status this film has acquired (and deservedly so) over the years, MGM really screwed the pooch when it came down to offering us cool extras. Not a single interview has ever been done regarding this film? The director didn’t have half a day to spend recording a commentary track? Considering the fact that bootleg VHS was pretty much the only way you could see this movie for the longest time, I guess we should be grateful it was even released on DVD at all. But come on, freaking White Chicks gets a special edition release but not this? It’s a crime, I tell ya—a crime. With zombies. (MGM, MSRP: $14.98)