Pros: Good campy fun with valley girls surviving on a dead Earth.
Cons: Plot holes, some poor acting.
For the longest time I have wanted to make a list of my favorite movies in my favorite genre of movies, which is easily the Post-Apocalypse genre. My approach for this list is going to be much different than my lists for Top SNES and Playstation games. For this list I will be reviewing my top ten Post-Apocalypse one at a time in descending order starting with number ten moving up to number one.
Also to note I eliminate a lot of movies from this genre for consideration by simply holding the genre to the purist meaning of its title. My first rule for this Top Ten list is that they have to be actual movies, not mini-series or television shows, which eliminates some excellent mini-series like The Stand and series The Walking Dead. My next rule for this Top Ten Post-Apocalypse Movies, and my biggest pet peeve about most Post-Apocalypse lists, is that the majority of the movie that I list must occur AFTER the apocalypse. By my definition that removes movies where the apocalypse is actually occurring, such as disaster porn like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow, as well as any movie that shows civilization slowly dying like Children of Men and Soylent Green. So in short my definition of a Post-Apocalyptic movie is one that happens after at least half of the worlds’ population has died off and the survivors are now dealing with life after civilization that we know it has broken down.
Review of My Favorite Post-Apocalypse Movie #9: Night of the Comet
Night of the Comet, the 1984 post-apocalypse movie that has been called the four ‘C’s, cheesy, campy, cult, and classic and I see nothing wrong with a movie that fits that description. The premise for Night of the Comet is this, if you were a couple of teenage valley girls (in the mid 80’s) and you woke up and almost everyone in the world has been turned to dust overnight what would you do? Well after you got a grasp of your new reality you would probably go shopping, am I right?
The plotline for Night of the Comet is that every 65 million years the tail of a world ending comet swings by in orbit of the Earth and wipes out all of its inhabitants. Now no one knows this since the last time it happened just happened to correlate with the extinction of the dinosaurs. There are a few people who suspect something and take refuge in an underground bunker while the rest of the world celebrates watching the comet fly by with parties in the streets.
Enter our main protagonist Regina, an eighteen year old movie theater worker who may well be the worst employee ever. While she stands in the lobby of the theater playing the Tempest arcade game while being nagged by her boss to do her job the world begins to celebrate. While blowing off her work blatantly in front of her boss she steals a bag of popcorn from behind the counter and heads up to the projection booth to sleep with the projectionist Larry. Meanwhile her little sister Samantha is stuck at home with their evil step mom who is having a comet party, short story shorter Samantha and the evil step mom have a fight and Samantha runs away from home that night.
It is then that the fun of the movie begins. The comet arrives and turns everybody exposed to it (anybody who isn’t completely enclosed in steel) into a pile of dust and clothes, while those only mildly exposed to it turn into zombie-like people. Reggie (as they call Regina) wakes up to her kinda-sorta boyfriend Larry complaining that the movie bootlegger hasn’t returned the reel he gave him last night and leaves and quickly gets himself killed by a zombified human. Reggie on the other hand hangs around playing Tempest and stealing Twizzlers at the theater until she walks outside and trips over piles of clothes and runs into the zombie that killed Larry.
After showing off her martial arts skills on the zombie we are treated to some truly sad special effects (red tinted) views of the greater Los Angeles area. Reggie ‘enjoys’ a nice peaceful motorcycle ride home since there is literally nobody else on the streets. When Reggie gets home she is shocked to find Samantha still going about her business living her life, getting some cereal. Apparently Samantha had no place to run away to the previous night and had spent the night in the lawn supply shed. After battling with the idea that they may be the only people left on Earth they are drawn to the radio station when they hear the DJ cutting in between songs. At the radio station they find that the DJ was just a recording, but all is not lost because a young truck driver named Hector was also drawn to the radio station as well (and we are treated to 80’s music and design at its finest).
While Hector needs to leave to know for certain that his family is dead the girls head to the mall shortly after Samantha brought the attention of the bunker scientists to them when she started playing around on the radio microphone. From there they run into slowly zombifying stock boys who are on a maniacal power trip and eventually the bunker scientists who end up being just as dangerous as any of the zombies that are left lurking around.
Night of the Comet has several plot holes and logic gaps large enough to drive a truck through, but if you are trying to think too critically during a viewing of Night of the Comet you are probably just hurting yourself anyways. Exactly how stupid are these brilliant scientists? Why did Hector run down the sidewalk instead of hopping into his waiting semi when he shook the zombie kid? How is a utility shed airtight protection from a killer comet? These things I guess we will never know, but then again this is an 80’s B movie for a reason.
For cinematography Night of the Comet is quite strong considering just how old and low budget it was. Despite the poor red tint filter put on the extinct world the scenes of LA after the apocalypse are still powerful. This may have been the first post-apocalyptic movie I ever saw and those scenes of a dead world were what really struck me then and to this day.
The cast is made up of mostly B movie actors and actresses but most of them give excellent performances I have to admit. Only a couple of the scientists and zombies give performances deserving of a B rating, while all of the major characters are done delightfully well. There is only one actor I recognize in the entire movie and that is Robert Beltran (Chakotay on Star Trek Voyager) who plays the truck driver Hector Gomez.
The story for Night of the Comet holds up pretty well through time, although the hairstyles do not. It’s fun to see a couple of valley girls dealing with the end of the world, fortunately for them these valley girls had a military father who raised them to handle firearms and hold their own at martial arts. Overall I would rate Night of the Comet four out of five stars for being a unique and fun movie that would never see the light of day in today’s movie making climate. Watching this movie now really feels like a journey back to the year 1984, but I like it this time around (or at least am old enough to know what is going on).
Other Reviews of My Top Ten Post-Apocalyptic Movies List