Night of the Comet (1984)

Night of the Comet (1984)

“I hate days that start like this.”

A teenager (Catherine Mary Stewart) spending the night with her boyfriend (Michael Bowen) in a movie projection room awakens to find they are two of the only survivors in Los Angeles after a comet has turned all exposed humans into either piles of red dust or zombies. After Bowen is killed by a zombie, Stewart learns that her cheerleading sister (Kelli Maroney) has also survived, and the duo head to a radio station where they encounter yet another survivor, a truck-driver named Hector (Robert Beltran). Will the small group survive attempts by a team of exposed scientists — including Dr. Carter (Geoffrey Lewis) and Audrey White (Mary Woronov) — to harvest their blood as a potentially life-saving cure?

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Horror Films
  • Los Angeles
  • Post-Apocalypse
  • Science Fiction
  • Survival
  • Zombies

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “former soap actresses Catherine Mary Stewart and baby-dollish Kelli Maroney” — who “break loose as spunky, funny sisters who are among the few survivors after a deadly comet passes over earth”:

— would “make a fabulous, permanent comic duo.” He highlights “their fantasy-fulfilling romp through an LA department store that hasn’t any security guards or salesgirls to look over their shoulders” as “a joy to watch”:

… and notes that director “Thom Eberhardt adeptly mixes comedy and scares,” with the film benefiting “from an extremely witty, offbeat script, some nifty camera work, and an excellent cast,” with “Stewart, in particular, sparkl[ing].”

Peary concludes his review by describing this film as “an unexpected pleasure that’s headed,” he hopes, “for cult status” (it was).

While it’s easy to see how this film must have pleased audiences at the time — and certainly retains a huge nostalgia factor given its Very 80s vibe and soundtrack — it’s not really all that compelling. Stewart is sleeping with an idiot (Bowen) for no apparent reason:

… other than perhaps to get away from her witchy stepmom (Sharon Farrell), and Maroney shows chutzpah in standing up to Farrell but is otherwise an airhead.

Beltran is a welcome addition to the cast:

… but he’s gone for far too much of the storyline. Meanwhile, the shoot-out at the mall by a band of thuggish survivors doesn’t really pass the sanity test (wouldn’t they be at all eager or curious to talk with fellow-survivors — especially such pretty ones?):

… and the subplot involving the “evil” scientists is underdeveloped, with Woronov giving a surprisingly subtle and sympathetic performance for a role that doesn’t really seem to deserve it (though it’s always good to see her on screen).

Most impressive are the low-budget effects showing Los Angeles as a red-tinted wasteland; it’s convincingly creepy.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • An effective low-budget portrayal of nearly-abandoned Los Angeles

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for its cult status.


2 thoughts on “Night of the Comet (1984)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    Zombies Meet ’80s Hairstyles in this lackluster popcorn flick which Peary wildly overrates. Woronov has accurately referred to it as “not a cult movie, but a fad movie.”

    She and Beltran (both previously so winning in ‘Eating Raoul’) give the film a bit of a lift – and Stewart has a bit of the spirit of Linda Hamilton in ‘The Terminator’, of the same year.

    The photography is occasionally effective, but if this film does (still) have any kind of cult following, that’s inexplicable. For a film of its type, it doesn’t really deliver the goods.

  2. It’s not overrated but a generally well regarded generally; 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. Decent, fun little cult item. It’s not must see for FFs by any means but an entertaining little flick. Recommended.

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