Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

“If John Hughes did an apocalypse movie.”

That’s how one person described Night of the Comet to me. And, well, you can’t help but feel they’re exactly right. To give that some perspective, John Hughes – the director of the 80s, with The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (simply the greatest film), Sixteen Candles and many more – practically defined a generation with his iconic teenage classics. So why does Night of the Comet not get the same recognition as some of Hughes’s masterpieces? Let’s delve deeper.

The 1984 flick follows Regina “Reggie” Belmont (Catherine Mary Stewart) and her sister Samantha (Kelli Maroney), who, alongside Hector Gomez (Robert Beltran), find themselves the only survivors after a rare comet sighting. They soon face an encounter with the undead and find themselves being followed by a think tank who want their blood to find an antidote to this mysterious comet’s dangerous dust.

Admittedly, films like this aren’t the benchmark of the blog. I doubt many would argue that Night of the Comet is a classic à la Chinatown, The Silence of the Lambs or Psycho. In fact, it could be the first time that the film’s been included in the same sentence as those. But, it feels like it’s time to mix it up with something a little different – something a little fun…

You see, many would easily mistake Night of the Comet as your typical 80s teen horror: zombies, gore and screaming adolescents. They would be wrong. In fact, despite being pinned as a zombie apocalypse, only three or four actually turn up. The streets are dusty, orange and empty, starkly juxtaposed against the deep red heavens. Night of the Comet is more likely a parody of these low-budget, sci-fi B movies. It’s actually really well constructed. Smart, flippant and witty with some droll one liners, director and screenwriter Thomas Eberhardt doesn’t miss a beat.

Unlike 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which was originally going to be comedy-horror – although I’ll be happy to argue that at points it is unintentionally and absurdly funny – Night of the Comet was no qualms going the full way. This is the campy final reckoning we’ve all needed. It only has a few scares, and the film mostly focuses on its jibing dialogue and their erratic Valley girl stars.

There’s a scene that sums up the film perfectly. It’s the end of the world. So what the hell do you? You go out to the mall and try on glamorous clothes that you couldn’t before to the cheesiest of all songs, Girls Just Want To Have Fun. This just one example of the great satire here, in a film that relishes all things 80s.

But, of course, it isn’t just tongue in cheek comedy, but horror too. Soon zombified droogs, led by a brilliantly and creepily pompous Ivan E. Roth (“you dirty rat…”), begin shooting at their intruders. But, of course, Reggie and Samantha don’t give up – one of them grabs a gun, poses as a mannequin and lets loose, while the other throws shoes, wishing she had a uzi right about now. Night of the Comet gleefully tap dances through different genres, and its one of the reasons it’s so unique. It’s also probably one of the reasons it never found it’s perfect audience – sci-fi, comedy and horror fans never warmed to it, despite the fact it would probably suit them all.

The acting is pretty good for a film of this standing. Stewart is great, but Kelli Maroney is the one who steals the spotlight as her cheerleader younger sister. That’s partly down to the fact that Samantha is quite an interesting character. It’s common for films such as this to have very cardboard personas, but there are arcs here – depth! That’s what’s fascinating – not only is there great humour, but great characters too. The cast is confident, and they manage to execute them surprisingly well.

When I first saw the ending, I wasn’t too sure what to think. Everyone was dead, yet our remaining characters were just having a good time with no one around. It just seems like a very unusual ending from what we’re all used to – it’s not a bleak end in that the characters lose in their goals, but it’s not a happy one either. I mean, everyone’s dead! But it makes sense; this is a film that savours the end of the world. There’s no troubles anymore: no nagging parents, no school, no annoying fools. And it goes to show that these characters have needs and wants, even if they’re as facile as getting a boyfriend.

It’s no surprise that this film is so much fun. It doesn’t take itself seriously at all – which probably explains why it’s still just as good today. That’s not to say Night of the Comet is some undiscovered classic. Oh – it’s flawed. But that element of fun makes up for those flaws. It’s cheap, but that’s part of it’s charm.

The real shame here is how underseen this film is. Yes, it’s not a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a cut above the rest of some cult classics. It’s obscurity is definitely undeserved. The fact this film can’t be readily seen is really pretty sad. Hopefully this review goes just a tiny way to repairing its reputation. This is an entertaining film, with an interesting cast and interesting premise. What’s not to like?

After all, girl’s just wanna have fun – even if it’s the end of the world.

Night of the Comet – 7.5 out of 10

30 Comments

  1. Not streaming?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately not. You can buy it on DVD or Blu-ray, but it’s pretty expensive due to its rarity.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s not a film I have watched but one I very nearly covered for my Journey into Science-Fiction project. I think I might have to watch it now. Great review, as always. Good to see some Voyager crew get some work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, give it a go! Thanks as always, Neon!
      Beltran is good here, but he’s of the worst Voyagers though, am I right?

      Like

  3. Bookstooge says:

    I am always stupified that older movies aren’t being streamed more. You’d think they’d have a built in nostalgia factor! Even the bad ones.

    Is it because of losing track of the rights holders? In which case, Intellectual Property laws have completely failed us (which I think they already have, but that’s a different subject)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not too sure about this. It certainly isn’t a specialised subject of mine. Number one: I think there’s a lack of overall interest and/or knowledge of this film, so the amount of people watching it on a streaming service is going to be less than a bigger budget action flick, for example. Two: rights, copyrights, legal binding contracts… I have no idea. For a pretty successful 80s film, it is surprising it’s nowhere, so something will have probably have gone wrong. But I’m certainly not the man to ask.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Alex Good says:

    Isn’t the apocalypse supposed to make you feel good? The destruction of the evil order that rules the world and the coming of the kingdom of justice?
    Or zombies. I can live with either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, Alex, the apocalypse is not supposed to make you feel good. The coming of the kingdom of justice sounds horrible. Zombies, however, are far more interesting.

      Like

      1. Alex Good says:

        Well, it might not sound good to those about to be Left Behind! I think the zombies would be more fun though.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah, we’re talking about the rapture. No, the rapture sounds like great fun. But a zombie rapture? That sounds like an idea we should inform Eddie of. He’ll write a script about anything. And I mean anything.

          Like

        2. Alex Good says:

          I reviewed a book about the zombie rapture a few years back. The n-Body Problem. Wasn’t bad.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Nice. Have you watched this film, btw? Not bad either.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Wakizashi says:

    I saw this years ago and was surprised by how good it was. I think it was on the old BBC2 Moviedrome program that would introduce “cult” or little-known films. Do you remember that?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course! Moviedrome! In fact, here’s a little clip:

      I don’t think he liked it much. Terrible taste, clearly. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  6. beetleypete says:

    I have never seen this film, but I would watch it if it showed up on TV. Doubt I would buy the DVD though.
    Cheers, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, I doubt that’s going to happen anytime soon. It’s a cult classic that deserves more recognition, but it isn’t worth 30 quid, I can tell you that!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. beetleypete says:

        I still buy a lot of films on DVD but I always look for second-hand copies from Amazon Marketplace at less than a fiver. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Bit of a wheeler-dealer, eh, Pete? Sounds smart!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. beetleypete says:

          Never had a duff one yet, and they are backed by the Amazon guarantee. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Brian Hannan says:

    Never saw this. A sucker for cult classics, I’ll give this a whirl.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent! Glad to hear.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. scifimike70 says:

      It may not be as serious as most popular post-apocalyptic SF films. But I still have good memories from first seeing it in my mid teens.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Brian Hannan says:

        Nostalgia is often the clincher for me too. And I think it’s too easy to discard older films because they don’t meet current standards of CGI.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Yes! Someone who’s seen this film! Glad you enjoyed it too Mike. A (very) culty classic.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Nelsapy says:

    Reblogged this on Nelsapy.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Paul S says:

    I’m another one who likes this film, I must have first seen it on Moviedrome many moons ago. Night of the Comet is an 80s movie that almost transcends becoming dated because it is so perfectly 80s. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but it does capture the time period beautifully. As you say it’s great fun, something that is sadly in short supply in the world today.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. scifimike70 says:

      In reflection of how I enjoyed 80s films throughout my teens, I can easily relate.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Some people are good at late replies; I, however, am the very best. How many months has it taken me to get to this? An embarrassing amount, so we won’t dwell on it.

      But I completely agree – you’ve really captured it well. It’s almost like so nostalgic artefact it’s so quintessential. Shame we don’t see more like that today.

      Liked by 2 people

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