The 80’s were known for bad clothes, bad hair and brilliant horror movies. The decade that saw the start of several legendary monster movie franchises, the rise of the slasher film and a whole heap of bloody brilliance also contains some long forgotten cult classics ready for rediscovery.
And Night of the Comet is one such film.
With its UK DVD premier this week Night of the Comet is a film many may not have heard of. Part post-apocalyptic horror, part teen comedy, part Sci-Fi B movie parody and part intellectual critique on 80’s society and its problems; all those parts make up a movie which is hard to define but extremely fun to watch.
Opening with a voice over straight out of a 50’s science fiction film we are told that a comet will be passing our planet offering a light show of stellar proportions – “Something not seen on Earth for 65 million years. Indeed, not since the time that the dinosaurs disappeared, virtually overnight.”
As people celebrate and comet party’s rage around the globe two tear-away teenage sisters Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart from Weekend at Bernies) and Samantha (Kelli Maroney from Fast Times at Ridgemont High) find themselves shut away from the world all night, only to discover the next day that the world as they know it has ceased to exist.
With the majority of earth’s population turned to red dust by the comet the unlucky few left over seem to be slowly disintegrating, becoming flesh-eating maniacs in the process. The valley girls go in search of survivors finding local drifter hunky Hector (Robert Beltran from Star Trek Voyager) along the way.
Dealing with the destruction of our civilization, ever growing cannibal hordes, some sinister scientists and romantic rivalry the sassy siblings fight not only for their own survival but for the survival of the human race as we know it and even manage to fit in a shopping trip to the mall along the way.
Night of the Comet is very much of its time. From the costumes to the soft rock soundtrack the film has every element any 80’s obsessive could want even including an obligatory dressing up montage.
At its center however is director and writer Thom Eberhardt’s witty script, which shapes the story into a satirical comedy. Here he uses the horror and sci-fi elements to comment on society much like Romero before him. Taking in everything from 80’s culture to teen angst to greed and consumerism it also tackles more heavy-weight subjects including issues of morality and self-preservation, while always keeping its tongue firmly in its cheek along with its bubblegum.
What really makes the film is the cast especially the central performances from Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney. Both excel in their roles making what could be clichéd characters into genuine believable and likable kick ass heroines who are also extremely positive female role models. Regina especially (appearing like a precursor to T2’s Sarah Conner) is a bike riding, gun toting, sassy mouthed matriarch and the relationship between her and her younger more anarchic sister is perfectly played by both actresses.
Although billed as a zombie movie by many, the monsters in Night of the Comet are more deranged mutants who talk in 80’s slang. Anyone expecting a fright may be disappointed as the make up and effects are pure cheese and unlikely to scare anyone over the age of 10.
That said Night of the Comet is a fun action packed horror oddity, truly worthy of its cult status and especially perfect for anyone who grew up in the 80’s.
Additional film information: Night of the Comet (1984)