Night of the Comet After All These Years

Night of the CometIn 1984, the low budget film Night of the Comet was released. It was kind of like Valley Girl meets Night of the Living Dead. But that might give you the wrong idea. For one thing, the female leads in this film are incredibly strong. And for another, there are surprisingly few zombies. Although they are the cool ones like we saw in Omega Man. They can talk and wear cool sunglasses.

The plot of Night of the Comet is pretty straightforward. There’s a comet that circles the sun every 65 million years. Get it? Well, if you don’t, the movie tells you: that was when the dinosaurs went extinct. (For the record: I’m pretty sure a comet with that long a period would be theoretically impossible, given it would have to reach into other solar systems.) But most people think this is a coincidence, and everyone comes out to party to see the comet. (For the record: I’m not going to critique any more of the science in this film.) And almost all of them die. Those that don’t get turned into zombies. And those who were shielded by lead or iron or something survive.

The main plot is about a group of scientists who screwed up and got exposed, and are now living off the blood of the survivors until they can create a cure. Or something. The details of the plot don’t much matter. Night of the Comet is really about sisters (Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney) who have a very cool post-apocalypse. I saw the film at the time and I recall liking it, but not remembering much other than the ending when the cute boy drives up in a sports car, and the younger sister goes off with him, having a happy ending.

The film is silly but completely entertaining — exactly what it intends to be. It was written and directed by Thom Eberhardt. You probably know him for directing Captain Ron. I know him because he directed one of my favorite silly films, Without a Clue. His films have a tendency to be panned by critics — at least when they first come out. I think this is typical of critics who usually get caught up in what they think the film should be, rather than judging it on its own terms.

Of course, that wasn’t true of Night of the Comet. Eberhardt makes it so clear what he is doing that even film critics couldn’t miss it. And it’s a good thing. This is a film that deserved to be seen and deserves its cult status today. It is primarily a film about women. The three principal characters are the two sisters and Audrey White (Mary Woronov), the only one of the scientists who has a problem with killing people for their survival. In fact, if it weren’t for White’s actions, the sisters would have died and that would be that.

Night of the Comet is, in other words, the kind of film that conservatives would now claim was all PC. Indeed, according to Wikipedia, “Eberhardt wanted to explore the idea of strong female protagonists with his love of post-apocalyptic films set in empty cities.” At the same time, he doesn’t shy away from sexing the film up with a very revealing scene involving Maroney — and zombies! So maybe repressed conservatives would like it! Regardless, Night of the Comet is well worth checking out — even after all these years and even with all that early 80s music.

Night of the Comet Online

At least for now, there is a copy of the film online:

11 thoughts on “Night of the Comet After All These Years

  1. And 80s hair, clothing and speak.

    I don’t do Valley Girl as bad as I did when growing up but like, you know, I totally do speak it at times. When I was a kid though people were way more angry about someone using the term “you know.” And now presidential candidates use it! Yay for the dumbing down of America!”

    Anyway, I will probably watch it tonight after my incredibly dull Introduction to American Law That Elizabeth Already Knows Everything About.

      • Really. Also one of the handful of SF B-movies from the ’80s that don’t suck, the leader of that pack being Terminator. A good B-movie is nothing to sneer at.

  2. I acquired this movie about a month ago……had fond memories of seeing it when we rented VHS down at the corner. Think it stands up til this day…..though doubt it could ever rival MANT.
    Ponder.
    The two scariest movies I saw as a kid were while visiting relatives this place or that..and the kids are sent to a tv room while the grownups talk…Omega Man was one of those. I still get those dreams time to time.

    • I saw Omega Man in the theater with my sister. It terrified me, but I don’t know why. It’s not a scary movie. I saw Last Man on Earth on Creature Features many times. I had countless nightmares about it. Bridge of Frankenstein scared me so much I threw up. Now I think it’s charming. But the most frightening film of my childhood was Jaws, which I was when I was 11 and had nightmares about into my mid-teens.

      I recently rented Matinee. The guy at the store said it was one they play in the store a lot — one of the employee’s favorites. I showed it to my dad and he loved it.

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