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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 113: Night Of The Comet

Night Of The Comet
Good night and good luck

I was in the mood to watch a zombie movie, but the ones on Netflix all had terrible reviews. It's hard to gauge a movie based on the words of complete strangers on the internet. You have no idea if these people know what they're talking about or if they have some weird ax to grind with the filmmakers. Anything is possible. Sometimes the reviews are right and sometimes they're dead on. I didn't feel like taking a risk, so I decided to watch something that I had seen bits and pieces of in the past; Night Of The Comet.

Night Of The Comet is a 1984 sci-fi/horror/comedy starring Catherine Mary Steward (Weekend At Bernie's, The Last Starfighter) as Regina “Reggie” Belmont. Reggie is an 18 year old living in southern California with her younger sister, Samantha (Kelli Maroney, Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Chopping Mall). A comet is passing by the Earth and while most people are gathered outside to watch it, Reggie spends the night with her sort-of-boyfriend Larry in the projection room of the movie theater they work in. Unbeknownst to them, the comet has changed the Earth, altering the sky to a reddish haze and vaporizing almost everyone not protected by a lead shelter. The next day, as Larry leaves the theater, he is killed by a zombie who had not been completely turned into dust. Reggie fights off the zombie and makes it home, where she finds her sister still alive. Sam had spent the night in a shed after punching her stepmother in the face. They hear on the radio that a DJ is still alive and playing music and head to the station. There they find the station abandoned and that the DJ is actually automated. They find a survivor, a truck driver named Hector Gomez, at the station. Sam plays around with the DJ equipment and receives a phone call from survivors part of an underground think tank that were prepared for the comet. Hector leaves to check on his mother while the girls head to the mall for new clothes. They are attacked by a gang of men, but are saved by the soldiers and scientists from the think tank. Reggie goes to their compound while Sam is kept behind because the scientists believe she is succumbing to the comet's effects. At the underground compound, it is revealed that the scientists do not want to help Reggie, but just want to study her blood. Will Reggie and Hector be able to help the young children at the compound that have also survived and was Sam really sick from the comet?

Welcome to Ronald Reagan's wet dream

This movie is a lot of fun. While it is pretty light on the horror, it actually contains a lot of themes used in good horror movies, such as political commentary, doomsday scenarios, and questions of who the real enemy is. Night of the Comet draws from such horror and sci fi classics as Dawn of the Dead, The Omega Man, and Last Woman On Earth. It never gets bogged down in one genre, although I would have liked a bit more zombie action than what we were given. There's plenty of gunfire, but not a whole lot of violence and blood to speak of. The story is pretty basic, B-movie stuff, but that's ok because it never treats the audience poorly and does a good job of entertaining us.

Visually, the movie does an excellent job of convincing the audience that the world has died. It is actually startling to see a blue sky after seeing it be rust colored for the majority of the movie. Both Catherine Steward and Kelli Maroney put on great performances and have good chemistry together. It's the end of the world with almost no one alive, and they're still having discussions about boys, school, and clothes. The conversations are legitimately funny without coming off as dumbed-down or stupid. It's hard to tell nowadays how much of the movie is satirical and how much of it is legitimate. For example, when the girls go to the mall and shop around, Cyndi Lauper's “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” plays in the background. Nowadays, that comes off as funny and ironic, but keep in mind, that song was brand new when this movie came out. Either way, the scene still works, I just think its cool that it adds a new level to the film. Not a lot of movies can say that.
Zombie mustache. That is all.

Night Of The Comet is a fun genre-masher of a B-movie. It is deeply trenched in 80's culture, but only feels slightly dated. The smart script, funny dialogue, and good chemistry between the main actors help push the movie beyond the usual pit falls of apocalypse movies. Sadly, there isn't much direct horror in the movie, with zombies getting only a few short scenes, but they do employ the use of horror themes. Overall, it's a fun and entertaining movie. Take that, Netflix reviews.


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