(1984) dir. Thom Eberhardt
Of all the varying movies that came out of the 1980’s, the big ones, the small ones, the obscure, the moderately obscure, for some reason, Night of the Comet managed to have made an impression on me. Classified as horror, it’s pretty light-weight. It’s more of an odd, post-apocalyptic teen film, with some light horror aspects. As far as zombie films go, it’s toothless. But as a teen-driven pop-culture artifact, it has its charm. And it certainly has some serious style points for cheesy 1980’s fashion.
As far as comets go in terms of potential for apocalyptic destruction of the world as we know it, the reality is there and the tenuousness of our existence could be there, and of course, this film came out a couple years before the return of Haley’s Comet, so had some present-day relevance at the time. But I guess I always took any post-apocalyptic narratives at the time as more about nuclear holocaust and the aftermath. I don’t know if that is truly fair. This is Night of the Comet, not Night of the WWIII. Anyways, that is how I found it at the time.
Popped up with a bouncy, if largely unrecognizable 1980’s soundtrack, with some cute performances by leads Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, and Robert Beltran, this lightweight but effecting little movie somehow carries its moments despite not really being all that powerful or interesting. Maybe its efficacy is in more subtle tones, little things, amidst some flatter elements.
A comet comes and turns everyone into red dust, except for those lucky enough to have spent the night in steel-enforced rooms. Some survivors becomes zombies as they deteriorate into dust, but lucid, talking zombies, which is a strange, nice touch. The main survivors are a pair of sisters, who happen to be trained in self-defense by their green beret father who is off in Central America and assumingly justified. The girls wander the greater Los Angeles basin in search of survivors, guys, and most notably a “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” shopping spree at the mall. There are also these mysterious government think tank people who want to find a serum to save themselves before they become zombies.
This is a real 1980’s artifact, from the fashion styles, the music, to the video games. And while it’s not great art, not even a great cult film, it’s still charming and somewhat entertaining.