Night of the Comet (1984)
What’s it About: A rogue comet is passing Earth’s orbit and last time this particular comet came this close to Earth it wiped out the dinosaurs. Despite this nugget of useful information huge crowds of people gather outside to celebrate the phenomenon. The morning after it passes a reddish Photoshop gradient haze covers the sky. There is also not one sign of life, only small piles of red dust and empty clothes. Our survivors are Regina Belmont and her sister, Samantha who happened to survive by sheer dumb luck by being in steel rooms during the comet’s fly-over. They find another survivor, Hector, at an abandoned radio station and quickly ally themselves with him, trying hard not to fight for his affection. There are other “survivors” who are mindless zombies running around the city looking for unaffected survivors. Meanwhile, scientists hidden underground who foresaw the danger of the comet, struggle with coming up with a cure for the zombie-ism. When Regina and her friends come in contact with the scientists they realize the scientists are slowly becoming zombies themselves and just want the non-infected survivors blood just to cure themselves. So it’s actually more of a vampire movie than a zombie movie.
Is it Actually Scary: This picture is more-or-less a post-apocalyptic sci-fi zombie flick. It has elements of horror but not actually scary. Although there is a scene where Reggie and Sam are having a montage moment in a department store trying on clothes when they encounter some zombies. The leader of these stock-boy zombies, Willy, is one creepy dude who is one of the sadistic villains I witnessed on screen as a youngster. As the girls are tied up he plays a game called, “Scary Noises” which is essentially him playing Russian roulette while only aiming the pistol at Samantha. He also shoots one of his gang when they are taken hostage by Reggie stating: “I’m not crazy, I just don’t give a F@¢K!” Great villain.
But is the rest of the movie scary? Not really. It waivers from genre to genre, treading a fine line of campy and seriousness, much like Gremlins did. It also does the lame double dream sequence trying to scare the audience, twice right after another.
Gore Level: Next to none. Since all the humans who weren’t protected by a steel enclosure of some kind got disintegrated into fine red dust, there wasn’t much need for blood. And there is only two zombie attacks besides the aforementioned shopping mall scene which didn’t feature a drop of blood.
Dumbest Moments: Not too much actually to choose from but one thing that stood out is if this supposed comet wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago then why do we find their skeletal remains, while the humans in this film are rendered as red dust. I guess it was cheaper to buy dozens of fruit punch Kool-Aid to spill by the empty clothes on the street than dozens of skeletons.
Another dumb thing is the zombies in the department store. Willy mentions that they were lowly stock boys and now they own the store. Have they been outside? I don’t think there’s going to be any more Black Fridays for awhile. If anything, they should be happy that the girls ventured into the store not try to kill them.
Nudity: None. There is a couple of shots of Samantha in negligee and in her bra and panties but that’s as far as it gets. And since she’s supposed to be anywhere between 14 and 17 in this movie, maybe she shouldn’t be drooled over too much.
Overall: I watched this a bunch of times as a youngster and was really excited when this got a DVD release a few years back. Although my perception of the tone of the film was different then what I remembered as a kid. I recalled Night of the Comet to be scarier and more intense, but I suppose I mainly remembered the shopping mall scene which to me today is still pretty darn good. But I do realize the campiness this flick conveys and still enjoyed it immensely. Although it can be slow-paced at times and could use more dangerous and tense situations and I think a few more zombie attacks would help the picture considerably.