For this post, I had been going to put together a proper “Halloween special” with a double-bill of appropriate titles I’d missed on their first go-round. Unfortunately, the other film, 1988’s Leviathan, turned out to suck really quite a lot, so I’ll give writing about it a miss. Ah well. Happy Halloween anyway …
Deep in the heart of the 1980s, cinema employee Reggie, out of The Last Starfighter, and her younger sister Sam, out of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, unknowingly survive a Doomsday event only to find themselves in a largely deserted city, what with much of the population having turned to dust. During trips to the mall, the local radio station and so on, they encounter zombies, psychotic stockroom workers, shady scientists, that guy out of Star Trek Voyager and Juliette Lewis’ dad.
Written and directed by Thom Eberhardt, Night of the Comet certainly serves as an ’80s time capsule – but it’s also a very cool little movie in its own right. The properly ’80s cast of Catherine Mary Stewart (as well as … Starfighter she was in Weekend at Bernie’s), Kelli Maroney (not only Fast Times … but also Chopping Mall) and Robert Beltran (okay, Voyager was mid-’90s but he was in Lone Wolf McQuade) is engaging and the film is visually arresting. The post apocalyptic vibe is driven home with lense filters, the sky having turned red in the aftermath of a comet’s passing, while the effective use of empty streets recalls The Omega Man and dozens of zombie flicks to follow. There’s some social satire in there and a few proper horror moments with everything working on a “cheesy ’80s schlock” level – the mainstream pop soundtrack certainly helps – and as a Joe Dantesque send up of ’50s and ’60s B-movies. The villainy is top notch with the stockboys from the mall all tooled up and nihilistic-like (“I’m not crazy – I just don’t give a fuck!”) and Geoffrey Lewis providing a scenery chewing turn as the sinister head of a lab where survivors are kept as sources of clean blood. For, you know, evil research.
I’m glad to have found this one. I was only vaguely aware of it prior to this viewing – I had, presumably, seen the box in video stores back in the day but had never read up on it. Night of the Comet is well worth checking out – zombies,Doomsday/post apocalyptic sci-fi, ’80s teen comedy and smart pastiche – somehow it manages to convincingly tick all of those boxes.