One from the rewatch pile…
Night of the Comet (1986)
Film: As a horny oversexed teen, this was probably one of the top ten most borrowed VHS films that I hired from my local video shop. Was I because of the high quality acting and drama? The exploration of mankind’s survival at the end of the world? The two gorgeous babes who were the main characters?
Well, I’d like to say it was the first two, but as you probably all will know, it was the hot girls.
No apologies: it was all hormones.
Anyway, having already been a fan of both the book and the BBC TV series of John Wyndam’s Day of the Triffids and I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (not to mention the 80s teledrama of Triffids and Boris Sagal’s The Omega Man), I was on board with this film from the premise, the addition of Kelly Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart were just a bonus.
This film was written and directed by Thom Eberhardt, who also gave us Soul Survivor, which, like this film, is reminiscent of another uncredited text (in that case Survivor by James Herbert).
Everyone is excited by the comets that are about to fly above the earth, especially Samantha’s (Kelly Maroney) step-mother, whom, while her father is away, is throwing a ‘comet party’ with a bunch of neighbours and her sleepy potential boyfriend. When Samantha and her get into an argument, Samantha runs away and hides, missing the comet event.
Meanwhile, Samantha’s sister, Reggie (Catherine Mary Stewart) is also stuck inside while the comets fly over, but instead, she is staying in the cinema she works in with her ‘boyfriend’, whom has made a deal and has to wait for a guy to arrive with some film reels.
The problem for them both, though, when they wake the next morning, is that they find that everyone who has watched the comet has been reduced to dust, except for an unfortunate few who have become a kind of sun-hating, vampiry things.
They make there way to the city, and have fun (to a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’) in the abandoned malls and meet up with another survivor, Hector (Robert Beltran) who quickly leaves them to see if his family survive, and with a promise to return.
Whilst he is away the girls get in trouble with some of the mutants, but are saved by a team of scientists, one of whom is the friendly Audrey White (Mary Woronov), but does this team of scientists have an ulterior motive to help the girls, and if so, will Hector be able to save them?
This film is a real distillation of the 80s: it features a bunch of characters straight out of a Valley girl/ John Hughes movie nut in a horror/sci fi situation that contains liberal amounts of humour with its walls.
The cast are likeable enough, though Beltran gives off a weird vibe… like he doesn’t want to be there… to the whole preceding. I think the girls and the ‘zombies’ and the scientists are such a charactures that Beltran seems too ‘real’ and he rings untrue within the confines of the movie. There’s no doubt that he is a fine actor, but I’m not sure he is a perfect fit here.
If I’m to criticise the film at all, it must be as to how quickly our two teenage heroines get over the death of…well… everyone. They have a few moments of existential crises, but manage to rise above and get back to shopping and hanging out at the empty mall pretty quickly. There personal issues with the situation are not what the story is about, so on with the show, I guess.
It’s a fun story, if you overlook the ‘influences’ I mentioned earlier, and the special effects suit its age and it’s look.
Format: This review was done on the Arrow films, Region B Bluray release which runs for 95 minutes and is presented in a clear 1.85:1 image with a decent 2.0 audio track.
Extras: As one would expect from Arrow, a shedload of extras!
There is three different commentaries on this disc, one by actors Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart, another by writer/ director Thom Eberhardt and the last one by production designer John Muto. Each of the commentaries gives an interesting take on the making of the film, and ultimately they combine to make a pretty cool total experience of the making of the film.
Valley Girls at the End of the World is a really nice recollection of the movie from Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney.
The Last Man on Earth? is an interview with Robert Beltran where he talks about his starring role in the film, and he kind of sounds like a bit of a demanding self-involved jerk. I do like his idea of Eberhardt making a sequel now to see how the characters recreated their new world.
End of the World Blues is an interview with cult movie legend Mary Woronov, and she talks a little about her career and her experience with this film. She is still the coolest person that I’ve never met.
Curse of the Comet is an interview with make-up supervisor David B. Miller and his effects used in the film
There is also a trailer for the film.
This package from Arrow video also contains a DVD copy of the film, a reversible cover with alternate artwork, and a booklet featuring an essay about the film by Moviemail’s James Oliver.
WISIA: I have fond memories of this film and no matter what future format may surface, I’ll buy it again and again.