The internet can be a great tool to help you remember movies you haven’t seen in years. For instance, years ago, I was reading an internet list of top 30 zombie movies, and using it as a guide for buying some of them. Today’s movie happened to be on that list and it made me think because I had watched the very beginning of this movie on TV a long time ago but never watched the whole thing and I didn’t remember seeing any zombies in it. Feeling the urge to watch it, I find a copy on DVD and had a lot of fun reliving my childhood and watching Night Of The Comet again.
The plot: When a comet is scheduled to pass by the Earth for the first time in 65 million years, a group of scientists take precautions and take shelter in a bunker but the rest of the world chooses to make the event into a party. The night of the comet’s passing, Regina Belmont is playing a video game at the movie theater she works at and after putting her initials in, she notices that someone with the initials DMK has knocked out one of her high scores. The theater manager tells her to go walk through the theaters but Regina instead heads up to the projection room where he boyfriend works, where they make plans to spend the night having sex in the projection room. Regina calls her house and when her sister Samantha answers the phone, she tells her to lie to their stepmother Doris about where she will be but Doris tells her to come home after work. Samantha and Doris get into it after Samantha comments about Doris’ fooling around with their neighbor while their dad is overseas and Doris punches Samantha and heads outside to the party. As the comet passes by, the sky starts changing color and the next morning, the sky is red and the streets are all empty except for clothes covered in red dust all over the place. At the theater, Larry is pissed off that a movie reel that he loaned out has not been returned so he decides to go and get it back but as he goes to leave, he is attacked by a zombie and dragged outside. Regina decides to go play the video game and remove DMK from the high score, then heads outside to look around, noticing the sky as well as the piles of clothes in front of the theater. When she accidentally gets locked out of the theater, she tries to get in through the side door and notices Larry’s keys on the ground next to a bloody wrench. Heading towards Larry’s motorcycle, Regina is confronted by the zombie that killed Larry but she manages to knock it down and rides off on the motorcycle. Heading home, Regina is surprised to see Samantha still alive, who tells her she spent the night in a lawn shed after her fight with Doris, but when Samantha starts talking about what she plans on doing that day, Regina tells her that everyone is gone, showing her the clothes from Doris and all the party guests outside as proof. When they hear a DJ talking over the radio, the girls head over to the radio station but when they get there, they find that the DJ was merely a pre-recorded series of tapes set to play automatically. The girls are confronted by Hector, a truck driver that came to the radio station because of the broadcast. Hector tells them that he was travelling with a girl he picked up and when they saw one of the zombies eating a cat, the girl ran and Hector found what was left of her several minutes later. Realizing that the same thing probably happened to Larry, Regina heads to the bathroom and while Hector goes to check on her, Samantha disables the recording and starts broadcasting live. Regina and Hector start talking and after checking his pistol, Regina says they are going to need more weapons and suggests heading to Edwards Air Force Base to get some guns from there. Samantha suddenly bursts in the room and says she received a call on the radio hotline but when they get back to the DJ booth, the caller hung up. As Regina and Hector ask Samantha for details about the call, they unknowingly broadcast it out over the air, where they are heard by the scientists in their bunker. One of the scientists, Audrey, disapproves of the other scientists plan on collecting the girls but she is overruled. Back at the radio station, Samantha tells Hector and Regina that the caller had said that what happened to the people was the same thing happening to the zombies, only much slower and it was driving them insane. Hector leaves the girls to go check on his family in San Diego but promises to come back to the radio station to get them while Regina and Samantha get a couple of sub machine guns to use for defense and test them out on a nearby car. Back at the lab, Audrey is writing down symptoms of the infection when she is approached by Carter, the head scientist, who says they have found more survivors and wants Audrey to run blood tests on them but Audrey is horrfied to discover that the survivors are children. Hector makes it to his house and finding it empty, starts getting some of the Christmas presents to take back to the girls when he is attacked by an infected boy and forced to make a run for it. Regina and Samantha decide to go to the mall and get some new clothes but while they are having fun, a group of infected stock boys attack them, forcing them into a firefight but they both end up captured. The leader of the stock boys starts threatening to shoot Samantha but before he does, the girls are saved by a strike team sent by the scientists to rescue them. As the girls are celebrating being rescued, one of the scientists, Oscar, believes Samantha is infected and Audrey offers to stay behind to kill her and Oscar decides to stay as well. Telling Samantha they are staying behind to wait for Hector while Regina goes on ahead, Audrey comments about Samantha’s rash and Samantha says it is hives, which she gets when she is stressed. Audrey gives Samantha a sedative, then kills Oscar before she heads to the radio station to wait for Hector. When Hector arrives, Audrey tells him her memory is going but she wrote everything down on a notepad, saying that the scientists were all exposed to the comet because they left the ventilation ducts open, then injects herself with an overdose of sedative in order to commit suicide. At the lab, Regina is being questioned by Carter about her medical history and when another scientist, Wilson, asks to talk to him, Carter tells Regina that Samantha is dead. Hector and Samantha head to the lab and after knocking out one of the guards, they sneak inside and Hector plants explosives on the vehicles while Samantha goes to look for Regina. Regina manages to escape briefly and finds a room full of survivors that have been rendered brain dead and are being harvested of their blood for use in a serum. Regina is captured by Wilson and as they are walking away, they meet up with Carter as the lights go out. When Carter and Wilson leave, Regina overpowers her guard and then stops two scientists from putting the kids to sleep. Samantha finds them and they escape with the children and meet up with Hector. Hector drives off but stops outside the gate and taunts the scientists, who go to follow them but are killed when the cars explode. As Hector, Regina, and Samantha get out of the car to stare at the wreckage, one of the infected scientist, who had already become a zombie, tries to grab the girl from the car but the girls save her and Hector kills the scientist. Some time later, it starts raining and the rain washes away the dust from the Earth. Regina and Hector have become parental figures for the children in an attempt to rebuild society. Samantha feels left behind and unappreciated and when she mocks their waiting for the light to change before crossing the street, she walks across the street and almost gets run over by a car. The driver does a u-turn and pulls over next to Samantha, who is happy to see another boy is still alive. When the boy asks if she wants a ride, she quickly agrees and asks his name, which is Danny Mason Keener (DMK), and the two drive off, while Hector, Regina, and the kids play in the street.
Night Of The Comet met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics enjoy the mix of humor and horror that was prevalent throughout the movie. The movie has become a cult film and Kelli Maroney’s character (Samantha) was one of the influences Joss Whedon used to create Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The movie was a box office hit, earning $14.4 million off a $700,000 budget.
This is a really fun movie to watch because it tends to poke fun at the stereotypical apocalypse style movies. The acting was really good, with Catherine Mary Stewart (Regina), Kelli Maroney (Samantha), and Robert Beltran (Hector) all doing a good job in mixing humor and seriousness in their roles. The story was pretty entertaining, taking the usual end of the world theme and making the survivors being a couple of teenagers acting like teenagers. The make-up on the zombies wasn’t top of the line, given the limited budget, but the explanation in the plot made the zombies seem more realistic than the average zombie movie. I also love how full of 80’s culture this movie is, and by full, I mean covered head to toe in it. A fun movie to watch that is still enjoyable today as it was when I saw the first part of it years ago.
Rating: 4 out of 5