Night of the Comet (1984) – or – Girls just wanna have fun.

Here’s an often overlooked zombie flick! Even I would never have listed it in the zombie category until I finally watched it again recently. Night of the Comet is one of those movies that I watched over and over again as a kid. We probably discovered it while raiding the local video store for horror flicks around 1986 or 87. I just remember thinking it was the greatest idea ever. When the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, everyone who is outside gets turned into piles of red dust, leaving two girls alone and in complete control of everything around them. I’m sure this is every kids fantasy. Imagine all the toy stores you could raid!

That’s the exact thing that drew me to this film so many years ago. I remember there being mutants in the film but only when I watched again did I realize just how much like zombies they really are. The term zombie can be stretched all kinds of ways now with films like 28 Days Later rewriting the idea of a zombie. Even though they really are just mutated people in Night of the Comet, they still look like zombies and enjoy chowing down on whatever person they can get their hands on. I had forgotten just how cool they looked. One thing I hadn’t forgotten was how much cheesy fun the film was and how much of a crush I had on Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) in the film.

Regina is the bad-ass, video game playing, gun toting heroine of the film.

We start the film with Regina working at the local movie theatre while her boyfriend runs the projector. When he lends out one of the films from the theatre, the two of them wind up getting stuck inside the projection booth while they wait for it to be returned. Meanwhile, Regina’s sister Samantha (Kelli Maroney) is at home with their rude and obnoxious step-mother while their dad is out of town. After an argument, Samantha decides to run away. When Regina wakes up the next morning, she finds that the city seems to be deserted. Suddenly she’s attacked by a hideously deformed man. She manages to escape and returns to find her sister still alive.

The two of them start to realize that they’ve survived the comet because they had been in rooms covered with steel. They hear a voice on the radio and head to the station only to find it was a recording. There’s still one person alive though, Hector (Robert Beltran), who comes out from the shadows holding them at gunpoint. They quickly realize that none of them are mutants and when a phone call comes into the radio station, they start to wonder how many other survivors are out there.

Those other survivors are hidden in an underground military bunker, attempting to find survivors so they can create a cure for the disease that is creating all the mutants. Knowing that the girls are still alive, the scientists head out to round them up, but are they trying to help the girls or themselves?

While not technically zombies, these ghouls still look great.

At one point in the film, the girls raid the local shopping mall, dancing to the song Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. It’s that weird fantasy of being the only person left in the world that always made this one so much fun for me. Of course, I could do without the flesh-eating mutants running around but sometimes you have to take the good with the bad.

The story isn’t exactly fresh, although in 1984 it may have been, but the film has that 80’s sense to it that I can’t help but love. When it comes to the 80’s, the movies are about the only thing I find enjoyable. They were always entertaining and fun and despite being so obviously trapped in that decade, they never lose their charm. The bad clothes, the terrible hairstyles, the amazingly painful music, and the typically shallow plot ideas are what makes them so great. Being a child of the 80’s probably forms my opinion and I bet the kids wouldn’t think the same way about those films. For myself, it’s always a return to that amazing time when you had the fun of renting a VHS tape and getting together with a couple of friends and $10 worth of junk food (which went a very long way back then!).

Why I waited so long to watch this one again is beyond me, but I’m glad I dug it up and put it on. I’m going to make sure to add this one to my list of zombie films from now on.

Under the marquee – Will

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