Night of the Comet (1984)

When he was concepting the idea for this film, writer/director Thom Eberhardt met several real-life teenage girls while filming a special for PBS. He asked them how they’d relate to the end of the world and they answered that they’d see it as an exciting adventure, with dating being the only downside. That real insight informs this film, taking what should be a depressing scenario and making it into a light-hearted romp.

The Earth is about to pass through the tail of a comet. The last time this event happened, the dinosaurs died. However, on this night, eleven days before Christmas, large crowds decide to party and greet the comet’s arrival.

Regina “Reggie” Belmont (Catherine Mary Stewart, The Last Starfighter) stays late at the movie theater where she works, determined to wipe out the initials DMK on the Tempest arcade game that she’s laid claim to. Oh yeah, she also has sex with her boyfriend in the theater’s steel-lined projection booth. Meanwhile, her sister Sam (Kelli Maroney, Chopping Mall) gets into a fight with her stepmother and sleeps in the family’s steel backyard shed.

Those steel structures save our heroines, as the rest of the world has become piles of red dust and clothing where humans once were. Larry goes outside and is killed by a zombie. The girls find each other, as well as another survivor named Hector (Robert Beltran, Raoul from Eating Raoul) who slept in his truck and lived.

They decide to try and find the radio station that’s still broadcasting, only to learn that it’s prerecorded. Once there, Sam speaks into the microphone (she asks for requests from “all of you teenage mutant horror comet zombies,” which was the working title for the movie) and is noticed by a group of scientists. Hector goes to see if his family made it while the girls leave and decide to go to the mall for a shopping spree. After battling a gang of zombie boys, the scientists show up to save them.

Only Reggie is taken back to their base for testing while Audrey White (Mary Woronov!) stays behind to kill Sam with a lethal injection. However, she fakes killing her and instead murders the other scientist with her. It turns out that the researchers knew how the comet would destroy humans and prepared for it, but left on the ventilation in their base and were impacted by the dust. Now, they’re vampires living off the blood of humans. Audrey kills herself as Sam reunites with Hector and they go to save her sister.

The scientists are dealt with, Reggie falls for Hector and they save all the kids. Rain washes away the dust, leaving the world clean again and Sam is nearly run over by a sports car driven by Danny Mason Keener (DMK from the Tempest machine) who invites her for a ride.

If you only watch the surface of this movie or read the descriptions of it, you may think that the girls are vapid stereotypes. However, as the film progresses, they grow and become independent women who don’t wait for men to save them. Even Audrey, though twisted, chooses the girls to survive over the male-dominated scientists.

I love this movie. It’s not remembered as much as it should be. If you’ve never seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out on Amazon Prime. To get the best version of this film, Shout! Factory has you covered.

The artwork for this post comes from the incredible Pizza Party Printing, where you can always find some amazing shirts for so many of your favorite movies.

5 thoughts on “Night of the Comet (1984)”

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