Director: Thom Eberhardt
Starring: Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney and Robert Beltran
The 1980s was a decade of horror movies and teen movies. Night of the Comet is a mix of a George A. Romero film plus a John Hughes film. It’s about two sisters who survive the deadly effects of a passing comet, where the Earth goes through the tail of the comet. The majority of people have been turned to dust, and those who weren’t exposed completely are slowly decaying, resembling something close to zombies.
While Night of the Comet is billed as a comedy-horror film, it isn’t scary, and it isn’t really trying to be. There are moments of tension and terror, but most of the film is about the 2 sisters and their reaction to the apocalyptic world around them. It is also really refreshing to find a horror film from the 1980s that has 2 strong female leads without any exploitation to be seen. They aren’t damsels in distress, but strong characters that adapt to their situation. A lot of otherwise good films from that period feel dated when compared to modern horror films, mostly because of the way they treat their female characters and it’s nice to find one that doesn’t fall into this pit.
The cast is great in their roles. Catherine Mary Stewart plays Reggie, the older of the sisters and Kelli Maroney plays Sam, the younger sister. They are polar opposites in personality and play off each other well. Sam is actually the inspiration for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They are both well written characters brought to life by great performances. Joining them is a very young Robert Beltran (In the 90s Beltran would go on to be one of the leads from Star Trek Voyager), who plays Hector a truck driver who also survives the effects. He is a good addition to the cast, a gentleman whose main focus is making sure his mum is still alive. He also wears an array of costumes, for seemingly no reason other than he can. There’s a light-hearted tone to the film, which makes the tense moments that much better and the respite in between fun and jovial.
The effects of the comet can take a while to come to the surface, and this is shown through various stages of make up for the soon to be zombies. All of the make-up and prosthetics looks great and help bring the terror where it needs to be. On top of that the soundtrack is catchy and compliments the film in every way. It’s typical 1980s and the film feels like a time capsule, with the fashion, hair and music, as well as a great sequence set in a mall, that feels like an update of Dawn of the Dead from a teenager perspective.
Night of the Comet is a fun, upbeat movie. It may be light on scares, but it has a great set of characters and is an entertaining take on the zombie franchise. It has mostly been forgotten in the legions of 1980s horror films and deserves to be noticed more.