Review: NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984)
Exactly like the two previous reviews I recently did—Saturn 3 (1980) and Body Bags (1991)—I have not seen Night Of The Comet in decades, specifically speaking not since cable circa 1985. And again like those two previous movies my initial reaction was lukewarm. In 1984 I was 15; I have no memory of it’s theatrical release, but a year later, when I presume I saw it on cable, I do have a vague memory of seeing it one day in the living room. I also think I read about it Fangoria, but alas I no longer have any of those mid-80s issue due to two factors: a bad decision that resulted in me cutting some of them up and using them in a collage for art class, and years later the remaining issues were destroyed by cat piss.
In 1984 everyone on earth is waiting to see this comet that’s supposed to pass by the earth. Not so sure if that’s a good thing to celebrate for the last time it visited this neck of the woods the dinosaurs “went missing.” Yeah, that’s right, every single one of them. So, you can see where this is all leading.
Teenager Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) works as an usher at a movie theater and she’s working there the very night the comet comes. Her sister, Samantha (Kelli Maroney) is home contending with her “evil” stepmother who actually slugs her in the face when she mouths off to her.
The next morning earth turns into a whole new world. Regina didn’t go home, she spent the night with her “boyfriend” in the projection booth, and Samantha ran away from home and spent the night sleeping in the shed out back. Both girls were in rooms made from steel, which is what kept them alive. For everyone else who was fully exposed to the comet they got reduced to red dust. People who partially exposed suffer a more gruesome fate before eventually turning into red dust; they become “comet zombies.” And like regular zombies they crave live flesh, unlike regular zombies most of them still have full possession of their faculties and can communicate, shoot guns and menace a person like any regular earth bound psychopath would, except the end result in their case is the complete and total cannibalization of the person they are menacing.
The seemingly still in operation radio station is the first place the girls venture to hoping to find survivors. Here they encounter Hector (Robert Beltran), a truck driver who lost his girl to a ravenous comet zombie.
In another part of the state a “thinktank” of scientific researchers—notable among them is Geoffrey Lewis (’79 version of Salem’s Lot) and Mary Woronov (Terrorvision)—have survived, barely, and think they can produce a cure for the comet zombie plague, but they need blood doners for that, which is a bad thing, for the doner that is.
The girls pit their gun/survival skills (their father was military) against any comet zombie they come across not to mention the thinktankers, by the end of the film they gain a pseudo-family in the form of two children the thinktankers kidnapped. Samantha even stumbles across another guy, since Hector and Regina are already paired up, and with that New Adam and New Eve are ready to repopulate the earth.
Under their Scream Factory sub-label Shout Factory! finally brings this cult classic to blu-ray and DVD in a combo that came out on November 19th.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p High Definition 1.78:1 widescreen—5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio—English only subtitles.
The transfer on this one is extremely good looking and colorful where it needs to be. I had no problem with the audio.
Extra features are plentiful. To start off with you get not one, not two, but three separate commentaries: One with the two lead actresses, Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney, moderated by Edwin Samuelson, one with the director, Thom Eberhardt moderated by Michael Felsher and one with Production Designer, John Muto, again moderated by Micheal Felsher (owner of Red Shirt Pictures).
There are three featurettes on the DVD & the Blu-ray:
‘Valley Girls At The End Of The Earth’ (14:59): Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney reminisce about the film and still remain good friends to this day.
‘The Last Man On Earth?’ (12:32): Robert Beltan is interviewed and he turned down the role twice until the filmmakers promised he could play it like he wanted and not as it was written since it was written similar to the role he played as Raoul in Eating Raoul (1982).
‘Curse Of The Comet’ (6:32): Interviews FX Artist David B. Miller recounts his work on the movie; he was in charge of creating the “zombie” effects.
Rounding out the extras is a Film Photo Gallery (3:27), a Behind The Scene Photo Gallery (5:02) and the Theatrical Trailer.
Even though Night Of The Comet was never a favorite movie of mine, and after finally seeing it again it still registers non-existent on my list of movies I need to collect, it always comes to mind whenever I hear the names of the two lead actresses. I should say the first movie that comes to mine whenever I hear their names. For Catherine Mary Stuart it goes like this—Night Of The Comet, The Last Starfighter, Nightflyers and for Kelli Maroney it’s Night Of The Comet, Killbots (hard for me to think of that film as Chopping Mall since I first saw it on cable under it’s Killbots title) and the ’88 version of Not Of This Earth.
Also whenever I come across Robert Beltran’s name Night Of The Comet hits me right in the ol’ brainpan, and then Lone Wolf McQuade and then his stint on Star Trek: Voyager. Plus, it just reminds me of those good ol’ days of being a teen in the 80s. I don’t know how you all view the 80s now, speaking strictly to the Gen-X crowd, but I loved that era and miss it badly. Huh, for a movie I’m not a fan of it seems to certainly play an integral part in my life.