A truly delicious chunk of pure 80s cheese, Night Of The Comet is one of those movies that the more you know what to expect, the more you’re likely to enjoy it.

I’m not saying you’d need a blow-by-blow account ahead of the game, but if you go into the movie knowing it’s a tongue-in-cheek comedy romp with sci-fi/horror leanings, rather than the sci-fi/horror mash-up the title, premise and even some of the marketing materials suggest, half the battle is won.

Riffing on the likes of Day Of The Triffids, The Last Man On Earth and any other apocalyptic shocker, writer-director Thom Eberhardt’s movie takes us to Los Angeles at Christmas 1984, with the world preparing for the passing-by of a huge comet.

The same comet was supposedly responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs millions of years earlier, but the good people of earth still feel it’s the perfect time to throw huge street parties and take in the sight.

Turns out though, this comet has a pretty bad effect on people, either turning them to dust – or ravenous zombies of course.

The only people to escape this torment, it seems, are any individuals that were inside steel structures at the time.

This brings us to Valley Girl (rather than ‘valleys girls’ – thank god) sisters Reggie (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Sam (Kelli Maroney), who were shagging a projectionist in a cinemas booth and laid out in a metal shed respectively – hence their survival.

They emerge and head home to find that everyone else has been wiped out and, not only do they have no real idea what’s going on, but they have no real idea as to what to do next.

Throw in a ‘cute’ guy for the sisters to squabble over (Robert Beltran), and a bunch of shady scientists (including Geoffrey Lewis and genre fave Mary Woronov) that want to get their hands on the sisters for nefarious purposes, and that’s about it as far as plot goes.

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But the mood is the thing here, with Eberhardt mixing up scenes of desolate Los Angeles streets (which match anything Danny Boyle conjured up in 28 Days Later) with scenes packed full of genuine laughs – and the occasional fright.

What is truly refreshing is to see two female characters in the lead roles – characters that stand up for themselves, drive the story forwards and leave the male characters in their wake.

Stewart’s Reggie in another of the geek ‘dream girls’ that rolled off the conveyor belt in the 80s – she works in a cinema, is a whiz at arcade games, looks good riding a motorcycle and wielding a machine gun, and is a dab hand at martial arts.

Sam (Maroney) is your prototype cheerleader – goofy, blonde, but voraciously anti-authority and equally adept at handling herself when the situation arises.

The two make a great double act and the on-screen chemistry is superb – the pair seem to be having a great time as they plunder department stores, race around the deserted streets and takeover radio stations – and that fun is translated to the audience.

Eberhardt keeps the pace flowing and includes plenty of sight gags and references for genre fans to lap up – Reggie’s cinema displaying a poster for Death Race 2000 (which starred Woronov) being a good example.

Although zombies do feature, they are very much in the background here, and the effects are nothing to write home about.

There are other issues with the film – notably a sluggish final act inside the scientist’s facility which drags.

But these are small-scale faults for a film which, while certainly not a classic, will leave you with a smile on your face – if you let it.

Extras: More excellent work from Arrow (do they do anything else?), with a host of new interviews with the likes of Stewart, Maroney and Beltran, as well as commentaries and trailers.

 

DVD Review: Night Of The Comet
A fun 80s romp that should keep genre fans happy
The Good
  • Stewart and Maroney make an excellent double act
  • A great script
The Bad
  • The final third is a bit sluggish
4.0Overall Score
Reader Rating: (0 Votes)

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.