Director – Thom Eberhardt
Cast – Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Beltran, Sharon Farrell, Mary Woronov, Geoffrey Lewis, Peter Fox, John Achorn, Michael Bowen
Release Year – 1984
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The 1980s gave us horror fans numerous memorable films that will stand the test of time in our genre, and Night of the Comet is one of them. Giving us a pseudo-zombie tale that relies little on zombies and more on human interaction and conspiracy to sell the horror, the storyline is a unique one that still manages to deliver all of the most enjoyable 80s cliches, and complimented with good direction makes for one of the most memorable cult horror films of all time.
Regina(Catherine Mary Stewart) and her younger sister Samantha(Kelli Maroney), always at war with their sleazy stepmother who takes charge when their Army general father is overseas, find relief when a once-in-a-lifetime comet strikes Earth and turns nearly the entire population into dust. While the girls think they have the world to themselves, they soon find themselves facing otherworldly horrors in zombies resulting from the waste in the air, as well as a military conspiracy going to extreme measures to find an antidote.
You know how darn fun Night of the Creeps is right? RIGHT?!? Well Night of the Comet is Night of the Creeps before Night of the Creeps in regards to being a fun and classic 80s horror effort that also involves a comet. The one-liners and cheesy dialogue are positive, and this storyline embodies everything that was great about the decade. The idea of a comet hitting earth and bringing something drastic with it was not a new idea, but I had yet to see that tactic used to this effect and it made for an interesting storyline due to it leaving most of earth in a pile of dust and slowly turning the survivors into maniacal zombies. I enjoyed the idea of two young girls(sisters), the children of an Army general, serving as our main protagonists due to them being unlikely candidates for surviving the tough new land they live in due to their gender, but because daddy raised them to kick ass they have no problem employing hand-to-hand combat and securing/operating fully automatic Mac-10s, giving us the most unlikely of ass-kicking heroes. We get several other positive characters thrown into the mix, namely Hector(Robert Beltran), a traveler who joins forces with the young girls and of course serves as a love interest. I mentioned earlier that the zombie action takes a backseat, and that was one of the more surprising things I came across in this piece. I honestly went in expecting loads of sweet zombie action, but all in all I can say assuredly that there were less than 10 onscreen zombies in this piece, so be forewarned that this is not a devout zombie effort, just a cool film that uses the zombie element to a different level; the fear of turning into a zombie as a result of the toxic dust from a comet that struck earth. Most of the horror lies in the people/zombies our survivors come across after the comet hits, which includes the typical zombies as well as zombies that are able to think and move about normally, which was the case with the film’s infamous mall scene. While the first two acts of the film were positive, the third act really sealed the deal for me in how genuinely awesome it was, which was very surprising given most films do not deliver a strong third act, but Night of the Comet accomplished just that.
Writer/director Thom Eberhardt did a great job directing this piece, giving us awesome atmosphere (after the comet hits) very reminiscent of comic books / graphic novels. The red tint during the apocalyptic establishing shot scenes was great in putting us in the lonely and daunting atmosphere the story provides, and he endorsed bright and well-used colors ranging from the buildings our protagonists are in to the vehicles they drive and they clothes that they wear. You would think that such things would not make a huge difference, but whether you notice them or not, they definitely play into your visual enjoyment of the film. His execution of the zombies was mostly-positive, but he really sold this piece in part with the numerous actors involved and how well they portrayed their characters. Some were serious, others zany, but they all provided well for what the storyline called for, and that only added to my pre-existing enjoyment of this piece. Eberhardt adds high levels of “fun” with his execution, making for a truly memorable film that still remains a fairly under-appreciated horror effort to this day.
Overall, Night of the Comet is a great 80s horror effort that brings us a sweet story and great direction that delivers all of the fun elements we enjoy from that infamous decade. While this is not a devout zombie effort, there is much going on to keep viewers’ attention and make for one of the genre’s most enjoyable efforts.