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Trapped in a hellish copyright limbo for over a decade, Thom
Eberhardt's "Night Of The Comet" is a film whose reputation is due for
a serious rehabilitation. Generally--and wrongly--categorized with
typical 80s teen horror films, "Comet" is in fact a smart, skillful
parody of the low-budget sci-fi horror classics of the 50s, 60s and
70s--and a wry commentary on teen culture in the 1980s as well. For
those familiar with the original films, the parody "clues" are all over
the place--not least of which is that the early part of the film takes
place in the back of LA's classically offbeat El Rey movie theatre,
which is showing low-budget B horror movies. Most of the "scary" scenes
are preceded (subtly or otherwise) by the famous "red light" warning
used commonly in the 60s and 70s. And the apocalyptic plot, settings
and dialog, especially among the scientists, are straight out of the
Catherine Mary Stewart is by far the centerpiece of the movie as Reggie, the only teenage girl in Los Angeles who's both a lowly-paid theatre usher and an expert with assault weapons. She is most definitely *not* a Valley Girl. A pre-"Voyager" Robert Beltran is Hector "date night in the barrio" Gomez, the classic b-movie hero, and far more engaging here than his stoic, dry-as-bones role for the McTrek franchise. Kelli Maroney brings the totally 80s camp value as Valley Girl Samantha, who realizes with horror that her pool of potential Izod-clad boyfriends has just shrunk dramatically. Geoffrey Lewis sheds his mostly Western image here as the deliciously megalomaniacal leader of the researchers, whose taste for superscience soon gives way to a craving for hot buttered gray matter.
Eberhardt is a canny director who doesn't miss a trick--the scares are rare, but when they come, they'll get you. The gore is minimal, but the atmosphere of malevolence gets progressively thicker until the climax. The tightrope between comedy and fright is skillfully toed--undead droog stockboys, anyone? The effects may not be the digitized visual pablum people take for granted these days, but in a way they're more engaging for their rawness. Anyone who thinks this was a low-budget movie has never tried to completely empty out downtown Los Angeles at 7 am for a film shoot. Thom Eberhardt should be hailed for his brilliantly sharp, funny script and his deft execution as director.
Veteran sci-fi/indie/horror actress Mary Woronov is "Night Of The Comet"'s direct physical and spiritual link to the golden days of the genre. She's passing the baton here to a new generation of camp sci-fi/horror fans. That nobody has thus far picked up that baton is a tragedy.
To address a distressingly common misperception: the comet in question is *not* Halley's comet. Both in-film plot elements and the film's tagline suggest this comet only appeared once before, when it wiped out the dinosaurs. Halley's comet, on the other hand, has had more comebacks than Cher.
"Night Of The Comet" works pretty well the way a lot of people view it--as a simple 80s cheesy sci-fi comedy. But as with "Rocky Horror," if you've seen the original material it's spoofing, the results are a hundred times more rewarding. A future DVD release is a must.
There's a lot worth forgetting about the 80's but one of the few things
that decade of big hair and keyboard-drowned-music had was some of the
best horror and sci-fi comedies of any time. There have been funny
scary movies before and scary funny movies since, but some of the best
examples of those perfectly balanced action, horror, and science
fiction comedies were made in the 80's. I'm thinking of other good ones
like Fright Night, American Werewolf in London, Big Trouble in Little
China and on maybe a level or two below films like Return of The Living
Dead and Toxic Avenger. Some people use the term spoof when referring
to a lot of these movies but that's the wrong word in my opinion. Naked
Gun and Airplane were spoofs, movies like Night of the Comet and Fright
Night were genuine horror films that had a nice mixture of scares,
drama, and tongue-in-cheek laughs. All of these elements of different
genres are what made these movies unique.
While classic might be a little too strong of a word to describe Night of the Comet, I agree with most other folks here that it is a great low-budget 80's movie (maybe not low-budget, but definitely not big-budget). There was a vast amount of post-apocalyptic, low-budget horror films in the 80's but this is one that stands apart due to writer-director Thom Eberhardt's sharp, don't-take-it-all-too-seriously slant. Just the idea alone of two valley girls being among the small group of survivors of a world ending disaster is pretty cool. It took a familiar science fiction idea and made it somewhat original. But more importantly it was perfect for the times. Take Dawn of the Dead, mix in Valley Girl and Fast Times at Ridgemont High and you've got an excellent foundation for scares, action, drama and of course laughs.
The acting all around is very good for this type of flick and while it certainly isn't perfect, the entertaining and fun spirit of the movie make up for any flaws. It also can't be said enough that the presence of Catherine Mary Stewart definitely helps to elevate the movie. She was one of the most beautiful and under-appreciated actresses of the 80's and despite being in a few bigger movies and shows (The Last Starfighter, Nighthawks, Mischief, Weekend at Bernie's, Days of Our Lives, etc...), she just never really became the household name she seemed destined to be. Although no doubt she has plenty of fans like me. Unlike many lead actresses of the day in this genre, she was actually a very capable actress. Both she and Kelli Maroney give knock-out performances as two teenage girls just trying to cope with brain-eating zombies and the end of the world.
If curiosity about this movie has led you here, then I would pay little attention to the few negative reviews and trust the fact that the large majority of comments here are positive about this film. Maybe Night of the Comet isn't a forgotten "classic" by the normal standards, but it was certainly a cut above the typical low-budget horror/post-apocalyptic movies of the 80's and deserves to be seen by many. What it doesn't deserve is its current state of obscurity, its too-low rating on IMDb, and to not be available on DVD. That's the real shame of it all.
If you've seen any film such as The Day After, The Stand, Armageddon,
Independence Day, or even the recent extravaganza The Day After Tomorrow,
the end of the world would seem to be pretty serious business for us to have
to deal with sometime down the road. Film directors one and all want us to
believe it's all doom and gloom what with asteroids zooming around
haphazardly in space, aliens needing to ravage us and the planet, global
warming screwing up the weather or some deadly virus escaping some
government lab infecting mankind with a super flu. Thom Eberhardt doesn't
quite find it such a dreary proposition, and in fact finds quite a bit of
humor in the situation by way of telling the story of two of the survivors,
teenagers Reggie Belmont (Catherine Mary Stuart) and her sister Sam (Kelli
Somewhere out there in the final frontier where no man has gone before, is a comet zipping around with nothing better to do but to pay all of us here on earth a quick friendly visit. No, it doesn't exactly have earth's name on it, but it does want to take a cue from Top Gun and do a major fly by just so it can get up close and personal. Of course since we're a partying kind of planet, we decide to have one big planet wide comet festival just to welcome it into our solar system. There are comet tee shirts, comet hats, people have comet barbecues, and everything is just one big comet celebration. One of these comet parties is being held by Doris Belmont, wicked step monster to Reggie and Sam. Reggie and Sam's father is off doing army duty, and it's left up to Doris to keep the two girls safe and out of trouble, or as in Doris's case be a first class bitch while screwing the next door neighbor on the side. After an argument with Doris, Reggie ends up in a projection room at a local theater, and Sam ends up .well more about that in a moment. Eventually the comet does pass overhead, and being the grateful kind of comet that knows how to treat its host, it leaves us all a present by turning the vast majority of the human population into orange pixie dust.
Of course, if you happen to be one of the very lucky few, like Reggie and Sam, you may have survived. It turns out if you were in a dwelling of some sort completely encased by steel, then you also woke up the next morning to see the dawn's early light. Reggie, having spent the night in the theater projection room which just happens to be steel lined, does survive. Sam, who found herself somehow spending the night in a trash dumpster survives also. However, if you were only partially protected by a steel enclosure, then you only get to survive temporarily which also means you get to play zombie for a while before you disintegrate into a pile of dust bunnies. Then there are those scientists who were aware of the danger but instead of warning us all to momentarily hop into our Kenmore refrigerators, they built themselves a huge enclosure to protect themselves with. So not only are they extremely selfish scientists, they are also straight out of the Fred MacMurray School of Absent Minded Professors because although I'm sure they wear their seat belts and lock their car doors, they somehow forget to close the vents on their Comet Proof Bomb Shelter. What that means is they need to track down Sam, Reggie and other survivors who may pop up here and there in order to find a cure before they have to begin their own auditions for George Romero.
If it all sounds kind of goofy and wacky it certainly is all of that. Early in the film, you may have a bit of trouble buying into the proceedings but you'll eventually be seduced by the perkiness and charm of Stuart and Mulroney, and the witty dialog that inhabits Eberhardt's script. For instance, when Reggie returns with an arsenal to fight off zombies, Reggie complains that, `Dad would have gotten us Uzis'. And what are two teenage girls to do when faced with the apocalypse? They play D.J. on the only radio station still broadcasting, they vie for the affection of the only guy available, and they lift their spirits by going shopping at the mall to the music of Girls Just Want to Have Fun. As for special effects, they aren't much to speak of but we don't care because it's the script carrying the film anyway. It's obvious that Eberhardt was working from a somewhat miniscule budget, and although there are a few scary moments when Zombies pop out of nowhere, it's the whole premise of two Valley Girls trying to survive in a desolate Los Angels while being chase around by monsters and evil scientists that will win you over. It's obvious from the narration in the opening moments that this is a B movie, but Eberhardt keeps things on track by never taking himself seriously or asking us to which is a major requirement in a film of this nature.
Night of the Comet is not currently available on VHS or DVD. You may catch it on Cable at some point if you don't own it. Your only other alternative is to purchase it on Ebay at your own risk. I was lucky enough to have taped it some years ago, and am glad of having done so.
It takes an offbeat sense of humor to make a film like Night of the Comets and have it succeed as well as it does. It takes a quirky sense of humor for someone watching it to appreciate the film for what it is: a cheesy plot-hole ridden B movie, with a lot of odd but good natured humor and with two lead actresses that are good enough to take us along for the ride. I bought it, hook, line, sinker, cheap special effects and everything else that went with it. And if I can buy into all this I have no choice but to give you my grade which for Night of the Comet is a B. Now excuse me for a second while I go check out the vents on my comet shelter.
Yes, it's a B-movie. Yes, it's a zombie-ish movie. Yes, it's about the end
of the world. But it's the mid-eighties, so everything is totally awesome,
This is one of my favorite horror flicks. There's something about two teenage valley girls from L.A. being the only survivors (well, there are a few others) of an unexpected mass-extinction flyby of a comet, that makes you love this film. It's fun, has a few jumps, and tons of one-liners. It's one of those films that if you watch it more than once, you'll be quoting lines from it. It's all just good fun.
Sadly, I think I've seen this film more than any other film in my life. This used to be my guilty pleasure: I watched this almost every other day for a year when I was a kid and I used to know every line. I just recently watched it after a decade-long absence and I still love it every bit as much.
I think night of the comet is a classic zombie film that doesn't take
the genre or itself too seriously. Its the ultimate fantasy film asking
the question most people have asked themselves, namely "what would it
be like to be the last people alive on earth".
Reggie and Samantha are two bickering teenage sisters only united in the passionate hatred of their stepmother Doris, who has an equal hatred for the girls. The Comet is big news and everyone is getting ready for the big event, except for Reggie and Samantha who have other things on their mind... The next day comes, and mixed with all the revellers party hats is a mysterious sand. No one seems to be around....
The premise of the film is good and whilst the acting is not the best it is still perfect for this kind of film. The characters DO have development and aren't just cardboard sketches. The zombies aren't the biggest part of the film but when they make their appearance they do please.
This film is always missed off from the classical zombie flic list usually due to its 'hollywood teenager' aimed audience. Most zombie fans ignore it on the basis that it doesn't seem to be a zombie film whilst the non-zombie fans miss out because they don't like the science fiction element. I'd love to see this film transfered and cleaned up for DVD release especially now that more and more films of this genre are making their appearance on DVD.
Don't expect a brilliant script or brilliant actors. I'd say this one is similar to the film 'dead heat' in terms of its zombie load (expect to jump once at least) and 'my best friend is a vampire' for its fantasy element.
I am horribly fascinated with EotW films. This particular endeavor may very well have been the cause. I was 12 when I first viewed it. It impressed upon my mind the possibility that all could be lost....and then....it could actually get worse. But what distinguishes it as one of the worthy few among films of it's kind is simple. They had a believable reason for the calamity. Moreover, they explained how and why the heroes were spared. Instead of obsessing over the hidden mechanism by which people were elected to survive or die, the viewer could relax and enjoy the rest of the story. Although it's fashion sense is long lost, I believe that lovers of this genre will appreciate it's adventurous spirit.
I originally saw this movie in the theater, and I LOVED it! I had often
fantasized about the end of the world where only myself a few others had
Well, I'm 16 years older now, and not quite as misanthropic, but I still got a kick out of watching this again the other night. Sure, the soundtrack was atrocious, and some of the acting was sub-par, but the sheer aplomb that "Samantha" has carries the film, I thought.
Plus, it was fun to see Robert Beltran (ST: Voyager's second in command), so much younger!
Quite a few laughs, and a pretty good plot twist or two to keep you guessing makes this an easy movie to enjoy.
My rating: 7
This is one of my guilty pleasures. A camp, 80s sci-fi caper that's dated but still enjoyable. The opening is wonderful and contrasts with the subdued but somewhat haunting ending. Back in 1984 this would have been even better because it would not have been regarded as camp. Today it seems we can all sneer our postmodern noses at such works but make assertions that its kitsch quality is now rather endearing. Catherine Mary Stewart steals the film with her Ripleyesque action moves and feminine charm, while Zoe Kelli Simon provides a number of dumb blonde comedic moments. The film lags somewhat after the brilliant opening but never loses its heart. The only downside is the fact it seems like a TV film/80s MTV video with its fuzzy camera-work. Watch it with popcorn at home, preferably late at night.
Cheesy, but enjoyable satire is like the poor man's version of 28 Days
Later (2002) with a big chunk of '80's vibe for flavor!
Comet eliminates the worlds population, leaving surviving sisters to fend against a group of demented scientists.
While many peg Night of the Comet as a zombie picture, and granted two or three zombies do show up along the way, this film really has much more in common with the old B sci-fi movies of the 1950s. In fact, one could make a good case that the film is meant to be a comical parody of those old schlock films, after all it does have a nice comic book feel! From any view, this is an entertaining film even with its silly moments. It manages to stir up a few chills along with the laughs.
The films cast is only decent, but their performances do hold their own. The special FX, mostly the zombies, are pretty decent. The music score is composed mainly of electronic tunes that perfect that great '80's feel!
For those seeking a bit of fun humor with their horror, Night of the Comet isn't a bad choice.
*** out of ****
"Night of the Comet" is a truly fun and engaging little genre effort of the 80's, but surely some of its hardcore fans are slightly overestimating the value and significance of this film. I've encountered reviews stating that "Night of the Comet" is a quintessential gem of 80's horror and that it's easily one of the most intelligent tributes/parodies to older B-movies ever made. Okay, the script is quite clever and writer/director Thom Eberhardt definitely knows a lot about all the post-apocalyptic classics of the 50's and 60's, but I honestly doubt it ever was his intention to direct the ULTIMATE homage. "Night of the Comet" is more like a miniature-tribute! All the obligatory story lines and sub plots to create an end-of-the-world epic are present, but Eberhardt's only disposed of a limited budget and thus the elaboration is only small-scaled and rather cheesy. There are mutated zombies, crazed scientists and hostile groups of survivors on the rampage, but all just in small doses. The movie opens during a bright summer evening, when the entire world is preparing to see a mesmerizing and once-in-a-lifetime ecological phenomenon, namely the passing of a comet. Two high-school teenagers who missed out on the event (sisters, moreover, what are the odds?) wake up the next morning and slowly realize that the comet's radiation killed every human being in L.A, only leaving behind small piles of red dust. They entrench themselves in an abandoned radio station, meet up with another sole (and male) survivor, battle the occasional mutated zombie and of course go shopping without credit cards. Things get slightly more dangerous when a bunch of dying scientists, who predicted the extinction of the human race, try to abduct the survivors to steal their still uncontaminated blood. The tone of "Night of the Comet" is continuously light-headed, still director Ebarhardt manages to maintain a more or less sinister atmosphere which never allow you to forget that the whole of mankind just got wiped out. The girls, although mostly concerned about fashion trends and pop music, understand the seriousness of the situation and deal with it the best way they possibly can. There are still a handful of creepy sequences (the confrontation in the mall) and well-developed Sci-Fi ideas (the diabolical scientists), but the emphasis largely lies on the two girls and their typically 80's pop-culture life-styles. I've never heard this many campy pop-songs in one movie, not even in a musical, and the special & make-up effects are kept to a minimum. The acting performances of Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney are more adequate than you'd expect, as it certainly isn't easy for young actresses to portray teenage character that are stereotypical, ignorant, fashionable and yet likable at the same time. "Night of the Comet" certainly isn't brilliant, probably even a bit overrated by its fans, but still worth a peek in case you have a weakness for 80's cinema.
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