Night of the Comet (1984)

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Night of the Comet (1984)

Post  BoG on Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:20 pm

Written and Directed by THOM EBERHARDT
A fun, almost carefree visualization of the 'end-of-the-world' scenario, this is also an example of a B-movie transcending some of its limitations, somewhat like The Terminator or The Hidden or Tremors - it's not quite up to that level, but the filmmakers surpassed the expectations of many, those who expected standard or substandard entertainment. If you're into the whole 'World Holocaust' and empty cities scenario (such as The Omega Man), have we got a little picture for you, the writer/director seems to be saying.
Earth passes through the tail of a comet, the same one which made a nearby pass 65 million years ago, according to this story (remember your 6th grade class - what happened 65 million years ago and what animals fell away from the food chain?). Now, I always thought Earth had been hit by an asteroid back then, but oh well. Most of the populace watches the sky show and, next morning, they're all just clumps of red dust. Only those who happened to be shielded by lead, inside a room, for example, survive. Those who were partially shielded have turned into hostile, flesh-hungry zombie-mutates who are slowly deteriorating (this also copies George Romero's Dawn of the Dead in some ways).
Of course, it strains credibility that two sisters both happen to be in safe places in different parts of the city when everyone else gets wiped away - what are the odds, right? But you have to let it go and embrace the playful tone of what should be a very grim scene. By this point, there had been many movies about mankind almost becoming extinct, usually low budget sci-fi pictures - a very early one was Five from 1951 - concentrating on the dire efforts of the few survivors; these were very serious in tone - hey, Armageddon can do that to you. Remember The Day the World Ended from 1956? Cheesy, but very serious.
So this film is very aware of such a film history and manages to convey all those aspects of survival in a fun way. The two girls, nicely played by Stewart and Maroney, though typical valley girls, also happen to be well-trained in military skills, thanks to a military dad (also gone like everyone else). They meet another survivor, a young trucker (Beltran, a few years before his gig on the Star Trek Voyager series), who also turns out to be level-headed when it counts. Together, they manage to thwart the sinister designs of a secret government installation which had prepared for the disaster. There is a clever play on dialog as the one member of the government who seems most heartless is actually the one who turns out to have scruples. In-between, the characters deal with the zombie-like predators who haven't dissolved into dust yet.
The movie had to have been low budget, but they used what funds they had very well, complete with shots of an empty L.A. The budget was anywhere from under a million to 3 million and the film ended up grossing about $15,000,000. This has good action scenes, some minor shocks and a clever plot & dialogue, always laced with some carefree humor. As part of the older set, Lewis & Woronov contribute fine performances. BoG's Score: 7.5 out of 10

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