Poster for the movie "Night of the Comet" Reviews

Night of the Comet


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Night of the Comet

They came. They Shopped. They saved the world!

Two girls from the Valley wake up to find that a passing comet has eradicated their world and left behind a mysterious red-dust and a pack of cannibal mutants. With the help of a friendly truck driver, the girls save the earth from a villainous "think tank," karate chop their way through flesh-eating zombies, and, of course, find time to go to the mall.
19841 h 35 min

Each month, Peter Peltzer looks at horror films that rely less on the macabre and great filmmaking, and more on entertainment. From robot mall cops to killer critters, we look at the best of the worst ‘B’ movies in horror.
While it’s far from gruesome, thrilling, or even particularly scary, ​Night of the Comet is undoubtedly one of the most fun ‘horror’ movies from the 1980’s, and with a recently announced remake in the works by Roxanne Benjamin (​Southbound, XX), it’s high time to revisit our favourite movie about teenage girls taking on the end of the world. Modestly received in 1984, the film has achieved cult status over the years, particularly amongst women and gay men for its strong female leads, subversion of gender stereotypes and, of course, camp appeal.

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An homage to sci-fi movies of the 50’s and 60’s, the film opens with the narrator setting the scene: It’s Christmas, and a comet whose last earthly driveby may have wiped out the dinosaurs is making its way past again, and earthlings are eager to make a spectacle out of it. Any chance to party and sell kitchy keepsakes, right? It feels like New Years Eve, as everyone is out celebrating and partying, except for our main characters, sisters Regina and Samantha.
Played by the stunning Catherine Mary Stewart, Regina is a deliciously eighties heroine, with a perm that would put Heather Locklear to shame and a heavy arsenal of one liners and sass. Unlike most of teenage girls portrayed in the eighties, Regina drops the pop culture and shopping mall obsession for a deep love of gaming and comic book knowledge. A clever, sassy, badass girl-nerd?! How novel! Samantha (played by Kelli Maroney), on the other hand, is the embodiment of 80’s Valley Girl, complete with her brightly coloured pink and blue cheerleader outfit and highly entertaining vapidity. If Regina keeps the story exciting and fresh, Samantha keeps it classic and camp.

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The movie begins with Regina stuck hiding out in the projection room of the theatre where she works with the projectionist, Larry. Most will recognize Larry as Buck, the rapey nurse from ​Kill Bill
​ who was ‘here to fuck’; similarly here as a scuzzy con-man. Meanwhile, Samantha has it out with her nasty and loose stepmother, culminating in an slap-off that ends with Samantha getting punched in the face. If the moment wasn’t so cheesy, it might be triggering, but instead it’s one of the most absurdly laughable moments in the film.
Luckily for both sisters, they miss the comet, avoiding the fate that seemingly the rest of the world has faced: being turned into red dust or, alternately, becoming deranged zombie-esque versions of themselves. For a film that is more camp than horror, the morning after the comet passes is actually unsettling. The sight of a desolate city with crimson skies creates an ominous tone as the sisters discover that everyone and everything they knew is gone for good.

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In classic b-movie style, the girls find themselves in progressively bizarre situations. They end up at humanity’s final resting place, the radio station, where they meet Hector (Robert Beltran),
another survivor, who quickly becomes a love interest for both girls. After all, he might be the last guy on earth.
One of the most entertaining scenes in the film comes with the sisters doing a bit of target practice with a MAC-10 in the middle of an abandoned LA street. The two know their way around guns, with Samantha proclaiming that “Daddy would have gotten us Uzis” when the MAC-10 jams. For an era that was still fairly hellbent on girls being girls, it’s a delightfully subversive moment that perfectly showcases the sisters as badass women.

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To combat the gender-reversal, the girls immediately head over to the local mall for a shopping spree in a laughably bad montage, featuring a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”. It’s a moment that makes the gun practice seem all the more ridiculous, keeping with the idea that at the end of the day, they’re still girls. Unfortunately, things come to a screeching halt when a group of former stock boys who have taken over the mall, attempt to kidnap the girls. While the boys are successful, it’s not without a fight, as the girls toss around one-liners, bullets and televisions.
Up until this point, there’s been a handful of vague moments featuring a group of surviving scientists. It’s unknown what their exact purpose is, but it’s fairly obvious that they are the bad guys. That is, except for Dr. Audrey White, played by counter-culture icon, Mary Woronov, who arrives just in time to save Regina and Samantha from their incel-esque captors. The scientists bring Regina back to their base and leave Samantha behind, confusing her stress rash as an indication that she’s infected. Regina uncovers what turns out to be the infected scientists’ plan for survival, which includes pumping the blood from uninfected children. Hector, who had been off in San Diego in a vain search to find his family, arrives at the facility with Samantha to save the day. Regina, needing no man, fights her way out, with two kidnapped kids, and the group manages to escape, blowing up the group of scientists along the way.

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The film ends with Regina, Samantha, Hector and the kids months later. Having survived the comet, crazed zombies, incels and evil scientists, they’ve become a strong family unit. It’s a cute ending, with Samantha finally finding love when a car speeds through the intersection of an otherwise empty street.
Regina and Samantha are two of the most stand out female characters of 80’s sci-fi/horror. Regina, in particular, shows that girls can be beautiful and feminine while being smart and resilient. She’s one of the first female gaming characters in film history, a concept that many-a-dude still has a problem understanding. Her coy demeanor is augmented by her snapbacks and one-liners and there isn’t a moment in the film where she’s not willing to kick some guy’s ass. In a decade of horror where women were mostly restricted to slasher victim, Regina defies gender expectations.
Night of the Comet is one of the great B-movies of the eighties, giving the audience original female characters, playing with stereotypes and taking them to a new level. The film screams ‘Girl Power!’ in a way that was so far ahead of its time and well worth the visit!

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