Cheerful, 80s SF zom-com – comes complete with feminist reading.
This review was written 31 years too late.
“NIGHT of the Comet” begins in “Day of the Triffids” territory. But whereas Wyndham’s story sees most of mankind blinded after a meteor storm, here we have the passing in the night sky of a comet over LA that turns everyone to red dust. Protected while making out in a steel-lined projection booth, Regina discovers that she, her sister and only a handful of others have survived. But something else has survived too…
Which is to say, don’t get all that excited by imagining some kind of alien invasion or zombie flick here. Just enjoy some nostalgic fun, and if the 80s aren’t nostalgic for you, at the very least take a look at how, back in the day, simple cheap movies could be made and still gross a respectable $14m on a $700,000 budget.
Most interesting about the film is putting two strong women at the heart of the story (though Robert Beltran later to star in “Star Trek: Voyager” as Chakotay gets top billing). As sisters Reggie and Sam, Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney get to spout bad dialogue, shoot guns, dance and dress up to a bad cover of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” as well as lead the show. And they pull it off. They anchor the action, drive the story and make the film their own. It’s the men who play second fiddle here, doing nothing that a woman couldn’t do. Indeed, you could easily remove the male roles without having to change the plot in any way – there are no “get-a-man-to-do-this” scenes.
Its glorious 80s feel includes plenty of sub-John Carpenter synth, Michael Mann colour filters, and glue-on zombie masks. Supporting characters look like New Wave left-overs but still get great lines (Willy in the shopping mall: “I’m not crazy! I just don’t give a fuck!”).