Night of the Comet (1984)

night of the comet poster 1984 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Goofy, fun cult movie

Feels like it could have been more developed

Movie Info

Movie Name: Night of the Comet

Studio: Atlantic Entertainment Group

Genre(s): Comedy/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s): November 16, 1984

MPAA Rating: PG-13

night of the comet catherine mary stewart kelli maroney guns

Daddy would have gotten us Uzis

It is a big night for the world.  A massive comet is passing the Earth, and the Earth will even pass through the tail as it heads back into space.  Reggie Belmont (Catherine Mary Stewart) isn’t getting to see the comet and her sister Sam (Kelli Maroney) and her argument with their stepmother (Sharon Farrell) means she’s not seeing it either.  This is a lucky break for Reggie and Sam in that comet kills everyone outside and only those with a steel lined protection have survived.  Turning most to red dust, those who didn’t have full exposure have turned into cannibalistic zombies.  Surviving in the Valley could be tough, but when Reggie and Sam team with another survivor named Hector (Robert Beltran), they learn that their only hope could be a group of scientists in a desert bunker who might provide the survival help they need.

Written and directed by Thom Eberhardt, Night of the Comet is a sci-fi action-adventure horror comedy mash-up.  The film received moderate reviews upon its release but has become a cult classic over the years.

night of the comet zombie kid

Where’s my two dollars…cash!

Joss Whedon (before his fall from grace) cited Night of the Comet as a big influence on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and much of Night of the Comet has the same tone (especially in comparison to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie).  With a tongue-in-cheek approach but with real horror and B-Movie vibe, Night of the Comet is a strange, fun ride.

The biggest problem and the biggest plus of Night of the Comet is the story.  It feels really original and fresh and is loaded with odd-ball stock characters that are used in non-traditional ways.  You have cheerleader types handy with firearms, smart scientists that are actually mad scientists, and a group of people who aren’t too sad that humanity has been wiped out.  It is a bunch of B-Movie tropes utilized in a fun story, but it also has some odd pacing issues and some of the story feels like it could be more developed and tighter…I always feel it loses steam with the scientists.  The movie ends before it feels like it really gets going.

The characters are fun, but they aren’t always the strongest actors.  Catherine Mary Stewart is so-so in the lead but suffers because the Kelli Maroney character is more fun and interesting.  Robert Beltran is rather flat as the “male lead”, but feels necessary for plot aspects.  Geoffrey Lewis and Mary Woronov feel like they have characters within the rather cardboard stock characters, but they never really get to explore them.

night of the comet zombie dream kelli maroney

At the end of the world there is still police brutality…even zombie police brutality

Though it appears cheap, the movie does a lot with what it can in the visuals.  Most of the LA stuff was shot in the early morning hours to give it a vacant (and dusty) look.  The rest of the movie primarily feels like sets and pales in comparison to the interesting visuals of an abandoned city along the lines of 28 Days Later and other zombie movies and shows.  The zombies themselves aren’t bad, but there also aren’t enough of them…another fault of the movie.

Night of the Comet gets a lot right but it also feels like it misses a lot of opportunities.  If I were to remake Night of the Comet now, it definitely would be a TV series because it has the tone of a lot of modern TV shows…but it would also allow some of the fun characters to develop and flourish (which is something they don’t get to do in the movie format).  Despite criticisms, Night of the Comet is always a fun watch and a great ’80s throwback…go back to the mall and fight zombies again!

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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