Friday, July 27, 2012

Night of the Comet (1984)

“Night of the Comet” is pure eighties cinema. The leads are Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Samantha (Kelli Maroney), two Valley Girl sisters who were colorful attires, chew bubblegum and speak in a hip fashion. You have zombies running amok due to a comet crash that’s left the world vaporized (and the sky in a permanent sepia tone). You’ve got a government agency picking off survivors out of fear they’ll spread the disease. You’ve got shootouts in a mall. Hell, you even have a montage of Regina and Samantha trying on clothes (well, sort of)!

It’s for all of these reasons that I enjoyed “Night of the Comet”. It’s a pulpy , fun film that never takes itself too seriously. This is prevalent in the way Regina and Samantha act during the situation. While Regina is a little troubled, her sister drifts through it like it’s a common occurrence. She almost revels in the fact that the world is empty. She still holds out hope that her father, a green beret, will save them, but she’s too air headed to worry too much. Regina is more levelheaded, but even she has no problem kicking back and enjoying the freedom. Why else would she gallivant around a mall trying on clothes?

Your tolerance of these characters goes a long way in whether or not you’ll enjoy this film. I’d argue that, as long as you can tolerate them, you should be fine. If they even tend to rub you the wrong way once, it may be a lost cause. I myself adored the characters! Regina is too perky and energetic not to like and Samantha’s doltish attitude is played innocently, making it easy to swallow. I even bought them as sisters, considering they’d bicker with one another one minute and be joking around the next. Some may call bull on that, but I was the same way with my siblings.

None of the other characters hold up for me as much as the leads. Hector (Robert Beltran) is the love interest of Regina. Not only is he one of the last surviving men, but he’s a gentleman to boot (what are the odds?). He traveled through the girls’ small town on his way to San Diego, taking a hitchhiker with him (whom apparently disappeared; I don’t recall the film ever stating). Despite some friction at first, the two fall for each other relatively quickly and they fend off zombies and crazy survivors (such as the gun toting maniacs in the mall). He’s basically there to have another gun in someone’s hand.

The film starts to derail a bit on the middle, but Thom E. Eberhardt quickly gets it back on track by introducing the government into the plot. They hear a radio signal that Samantha puts out and convince the trio that they’re going to rescue them. Instead, they’re going to capture them and give them a shot that will kill them. They fear that whatever virus is causing the zombie apocalypse has infected any and all survivors and they must be dealt with quickly. The only person who’s against this is Audrey (Mary Woronov), who tries her best to prevent the death of survivors (which includes children). She does fine in her role, but she’s not given too much to work with.

As for the zombies mentioned earlier, they’re not the typical slow-moving, brain devouring undead monsters we’re accustomed to. They move fast, usually attack with their fists (or, on one occasion, a wrench) and can speak. I can see many people being turned off by this, as it goes against the grain, but I’m fine with that. It’s a refreshing take on the zombie mythos. Besides, the zombies from the thirties only acted as slaves for a voodoo priest or black magic user. They never ate brains then; only slowed people down and held them hostage.

If you’re looking for a fun, cheesy eighties yarn, look no further than “Night of the Comet”. It’s got zombies, valley girls, government conspiracies, comets, crazy hair, colorful clothing, rock music, bubblegum and shootouts. The script is sharply written by Eberthardt, who directs it with a tight squeeze. The humor works more than not and the characters are likable. It’s a great popcorn flick for a rainy night!

MVT: Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney as Regina and Samantha. I couldn’t choose one, as they work off of each other so well. Chances are some people will hate them, but I loved them!

Make or Break: The first zombie attack. One of Regina’s coworkers gets socked with a wrench. I knew then and there that I was in for a fun treat.

Final Score: 7.5/10

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