Night of the Comet Review

When the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, those outside watching the show are turned into piles of red dust. Only those who were inside have survived, and those partially exposed have become flesh-eating zombies.Among the only survivors are Californian teenagers Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) and her younger cheerleader sister Samantha (Kelli Maroney)…

On its release in 1984, Night of the Comet, written and directed by Thom Eberhardt, attracted some good reviews for being a smartly-written SF/horror low-budgeter. The premise is pure B-movie schlock, derived in part in its early stages from The Day of the Triffids. (I could rain on this film’s parade and say that the Earth has passed through a comet’s tail at least once in history, through that of Halley’s Comet in 1910 , to zero effect.) But what makes the film are the two vivacious female leads, who give the film considerable energy and fun in its first half as two Valley girls whose response to the apocalypse is…to go shopping for free, in a sequence cut to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (though not the Cyndi Lauper version). Robert Beltran gets top billing for much less screen time, and is less interesting.

With its red skies, Night of the Comet looks at times like something off MTV at the time, and Arthur Albert’s cinematography has the overlit (and heavily filtered) look of a film largely expected to be watched on video. The last half hour devolves into a series of chases with the girls, the zombies, some scientists who had hidden underground when the comet passed, and a marauding gang. Eberhardt clearly knows his movies: Regina’s swiftly-dispatched boyfriend is trying to arrange a showing of a rare 3D print of It Came from Outer Space and there is a poster for the Clark Gable/Jean Harlow Pre-Code Red Dust (ho ho) on the back of his door.

Thom Eberhardt had previously made Sole Survivor, a perennial on what's-that-film lists. Stewart and Maroney continue to act to this day, but not much they have done since has had a great deal of impact.

The Disc: Optimum’s edition of Night of the Comet is on a single-layered disc encoded for Region 2 only.

The DVD transfer is in the original ratio of 1.85:1 and anamorphically enhanced. It's a little soft, no doubt reflecting the low budget and the heavy use of red filters in exterior scenes. It's an acceptable transfer of an older film presumably not endowed with an HD master.

Films were still being released with mono soundtracks in 1984, especially low-budgeters. And Night of the Comet is not an exception to this. The soundtrack is well-balanced with the dialogue clear and David Richard Campbell's synth-heavy score quite prominent. This is just as well as (you guessed it) there are no subtitles available. There are no extras either.

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