Directed by Thom Eberhardt, 1984
I often dispel the idea that a golden age of horror where everything released was good has already come and gone (hence the name of this site). While I hold true to that belief, for me the ’80s into the very early ’90s were the genre’s glory years. There was an innocence and humor to many scripts that has slowly become extinct. And, of course, there’s that unmistakable ’80s style. The ’80s music montage is arguably the greatest thing to ever happen to film. Technicolor be damned!
And you better believe Night of the Comet has a dance montage!
But it isn’t a great flick just because VH1 single handily made the ’80s cool again, it actually is a genuinely entertaining apocalypse with a side of laughs.
The comet in question, which hasn’t passed earth since the dinosaurs ruled -hint, hint – turns everyone into dust over the course of a night. Unless, of course, you were shielded inside a solid steel building, then you’re good to go. And if you weren’t completely shielded, well, then you’re destined to degenerate into a zombie, of sorts.
The story focuses on three survivors: The geeky dream girl Regina, who was sleeping with her co-worker in the projection booth of a movie theater. Her sister Samantha – an ’80s girl – who was sleeping in a tool shed. And Hector, a trucker who was sleeping with a hitch hiker in the back of his truck. Noble characters with noble roots, indeed.
The three end up at the radio station under the assumption that the broadcast is live. It isn’t, so after some traveling around desolate downtown L.A., the sisters end up at the Mall (a girl has still gotta shop, right?) while Hector goes to San Diego to look for his parents. Meanwhile, we’re introduced to a group of scientist survivors who are holed up in an underground facility in the middle of the desert, but are mounting an expedition to go to L.A. to rescue the girls after hearing them on the radio.
I could go on about the plot, which involves a shoot out with mutated stock boys who think they rule the mall now and scientists with horrible motives, but suffice it to say the movie is a trip.
The music, both original and selected songs, is fantastic. The cinematography is appropriately gloomy; the shots of a barren downtown L.A. are great. All of the jokes hit their mark, as does the rest of the dialogue. The cast has perfect chemistry together and everyone plays it straight, even when it pushes the fantasy side of things. Thanks to a smart script, the film is nicely paced, especially when not a whole lot is happening. And finally, there’s enough of a diabolical twist to the other survivors to earn the film its horror badge.
Night of the Comet needs a DVD release something fierce. I know I’m not the only person who gets a huge kick out of this movie. On top of that, I need another Thom Eberhardt DVD for my collection, Captain Ron is getting lonely.
Yeah, I said it. I own Captain Ron. What are you gonna do about it?