NIGHT OF THE COMET

It’s Christmas, 1984 and the world is celebrating as the Earth passes through the tail of a comet for the first time in sixty-five million years. Unfortunately, this once-in-a-lifetime event turns into an end-of-a-lifetime disaster when the comet’s dust eradicates all living things. Except for a lucky few survivors, those who weren’t killed immediately are homicidal zombies. Now, the fate of life on the planet rests with a pair of teenage sisters from the San Fernando Valley armed with little more than attitude, courage… and a couple of submachine guns. The movie is the cult classic, “Night of the Comet” (1984), featured all this month on MGM HD.

Writer-director Tom Eberhardt’s “Night of the Comet” is not just a zombie movie, it’s a landmark in the nerd-hero genre. Cinephiles, comic book fans, sci-fi buffs and pop music aficionados can all find something to love in this lighthearted folic through post-apocalyptic Los Angeles.

Ahead of its time, “Night of the Comet” is notable for its strong, independent female leads. Catherine Mary Stewart’s “Reggie” and her younger sister, “Sam,” played by Keli Moroney, know how to take care of themselves whether its fighting off zombies or wicked stepmother with a mean right hook. Indie film and B-movie queen, Mary Woronov turns in a pitch-perfect performance as a scientist who may or may not be one of the good guys. The male actors include Robert Beltran as Reggie’s love interest, Hector, and character actor Geoffrey Lewis as the leader of a group of scientists. (Lewis can also been seen this month in “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot” (1974) which you can read about elsewhere in this blog).

A big part of the fun of “Night of the Comet” is the movie’s tone; it refuses to take itself too seriously. There are explosions, sinister scientists, and even a shopping trip to the mall. It’s one of those rare films where the filmmakers had the insight to celebrate the kitsch of their time. It’s almost as if they knew exactly what parts of the 80’s for which we would be nostalgic decades later. To drive the point home, there’s even a boom box playing Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

So, throw some popcorn in the microwave and check out “Night of the Comet,” featured this September on MGM HD.