Film / Night of the Comet
The comet's coming, and the world will never be the same.

"In 1910, Halley's Comet Returned. Everyone thought they were going to die then."
Party Guest

Night of the Comet is a 1984 film directed by Thom Eberhardt and starring Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Beltran, and Kelli Maroney. It has elements of such diverse genres as science fiction, horror, zombie apocalypse, comedy, and romance.

The plot centers around The Earth passing through the tail of a rogue comet — an event which has not occurred in 65 million years, the last time coinciding with the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. On the night of the comet's impending mid-December passage, large crowds gather to celebrate the event. The next morning, a reddish haze covers everything, and there are no people, animals or other signs of life, only small piles of red dust and empty clothes where people stood and watched the comet's passage. The people who "survived" are either dying, or turning into flesh eating zombies. Siblings Samantha and Regina Belmont are the film's protagonists.

Despite the schlocky opening scenes, the movie seems to be an attempt at a Deconstruction of typical thriller movies of the era, in that both leads are capable Action Girls rather than just monster bait (in fact, another Californian blonde who fought the undead in the next decade bears suspicious similarities to them), the lead male is Hispanic, bridge-dropping is played with, and so on.

This film contains examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Oh dear Lord, yes.
  • Abusive Parent: The girls stepmother, whose reaction to Samantha mouthing off is to slap her. Samantha slaps her back, and the stepmother punches her. Her nonchalant reaction to having a busted tooth the next day tips implies that this happens often. Also, it is implied the stepmother cheats on their father while he is away.
  • Action Girl: Samantha and Regina.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 3b.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy: Comets are visible long before and after they pass, so not wanting to "miss the comet" is a little silly.
    • Justified in that in this case, the comet is passing unusually close to the Earth and there's one prime observational time (probably when the Earth passes through its tail).
  • Ax-Crazy: All the zombies, but especially the mall stockboys.
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning of the film, Reggie is playing a video game, and manages to place among the top scorers. There's another set of initials above hers. Annoyed, she wonders who they belong to. At the end of the movie (that is, post-end of the world!), another survivor is seen driving a car. The initials from the video-game scoreboard are on the license plate.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: One of the scientists, Rogers, is mentioned as missing towards the end and Dr. Wilson says he has probably already regressed. This is waved off by Dr. Carter. Guess who shows up for one last scare to menace our heroes after Hector has blown up Carter and the others in their car?
  • Comet of Doom
  • Contrived Coincidence: So the only two female non-zombified survivors in the entire city happen to be sisters? How convenient for them that they both managed to adequately shield themselves in different places on the same night. Then there's DMK.
  • Cozy Catastrophe: Once the flesh-eating zombies are dealt with, the survivors actually don't have it too bad. The power stations and water/sewage just keep on chugging!
  • Damsel in Distress: Averted. As noted, these are Action Girls, aggressive, resourceful, and expert at handling weapons. Even when one of the girls is captured, her sister is a major part of the rescue plan. They do both get captured by the mall stockboys and wind up needing to be saved, but they put up one hell of a fight beforehand.
  • Dead Man Walking: All of the zombies.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The comet.
  • Desolation Shot: Los Angeles. The crew needed to do their takes very early in the morning during weekends in order to prevent traffic and bystanders from appearing (and they were still not successful on a couple of takes).
  • Did I Mention It's Christmas?: A few hints - decorations in stores, radio broadcasts, Hector dressing as Santa to surprise the girls - suggest it's the holiday season, although the buildup to and hype about "Comet Night" seems to have taken precedence due to the latter being a rare celestial event.
  • Disappeared Dad: Reggie and Sam's father, whom both girls idolize, is in the military and is always away from home "looking for a war". It's all but implied that he married Doris just so the girls could have a mother-figure and basically left them behind.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Sam has one (two?) of these involving zombie motorcycle cops.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The Project's bunker. It was supposed to be deep enough to prevent the Comet's radiation from reaching them... but someone left the air ducts open.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: The only thing left of most of the world's inhabitants.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: The white marabou jacket and boa Samantha wear in the (sort of) shopping spree scene.
  • Gamer Chick: Reggie's first scene has her playing an arcade game rather than working.
  • Groin Attack: Unleashed by Sam upon one of the zombie stockboys.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Minder and Davenport are "sent to see Santa" in the same manner as their victims.
  • Improvised Weapon: A keyboard!
  • The Last Man Heard a Knock...: Sam and Reggie believe themselves to be completely alone and go to a radio station that is still broadcasting, only to find out that the DJ was pre-recorded and he's as dead as the rest. Sam plays around and broadcasts the station's number... and the Project calls them.
    • Hector hears somebody knocking and rattling the knob of his parents' front door when he stops by to see if they're alive. He ends up running from an Undead Child because he doesn't want to shoot a kid.
  • Large Ham: Willie delivers his lines with the cadence and gusto of an insane game show host.
  • Left the Background Music On: During the scene at the mall, the background music is cut off when the boombox is destroyed.
  • Look Both Ways: Parodied and subverted.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Carter.
  • Mayor of a Ghost Town: The girls pretty much have the run of the city, zombies aside, trying to take over the local radio station (in Samantha's case at least, trying her hand at DJing) and looting the mall for clothes. Also, the zombified mall stcokboys who have other ideas and think they now own the place.
  • Military Brat: The girls.
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Reggie poses like a mannequin to get the drop on the mall-stockboy zombies.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: The boy and girl Reggie, Sam and Hector save are wearing bathrobes over their pajamas that make them this.
  • Pretty in Mink: A blue fox jacket Regina wears in the (sort of) shopping spree scene.
  • Precision F-Strike: Willie, upon shooting one of his own gang members in a standoff.
    Regina: You're CRAZY!
    Willy: I'm not crazy, I just don't give a fuck!
  • Promotion to Parent: Reggie for Sam, and Sam is not happy about it. At the end of the movie, Reggie, Sam and Hector are these for the two children, Sarah and Ryan.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Short term version. The film ends about two or three days into the apocalypse, long before any systems start to fail.
  • Shout-Out: When Reggie's boyfriend leaves the theater, and the zombie gabs him with a wrench, the shot very much looks like an homage to the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The way the door opens to show a close-up of the murderer, and the long shot where he lands a few more extra blows to the downed victim.
  • Shown Their Work: The Mac-10 jams, and Sam says "Daddy would have gotten us Uzis." The Mac-10 is notoriously prone to jamming, and the Uzi is famously robust. According to interviews with Catherine Mary Stewart, the director originally wanted Uzis, and the Mac-10s did keep jamming, and ruining takes, so that the director ended up including some of the scenes in there with a nice bit of improvised dialog.
  • Sigil Spam: The think tank's logo is on a few things you'd normally expect to see like the guards' uniforms, the helicopter, etc., but it starts getting silly when it's plastered on computers, tabletops and storage canisters.
  • The Slacker: Regina 'Reggie' Belmont
  • Slept Through the Apocalypse: True of Sam, Reggie and Hector.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The "comet zombies" aren't so much undead as simply slowly decomposing people who must drink human blood to stave off their transformation into dust.
  • Token Good Teammate: Audrey is this to the think tank. She is the only one out of all the scientists to point out that capturing survivors for the purpose of rendering them brain-dead and draining their blood to make a serum is utterly despicable.
  • Valley Girl: Samantha
  • Vanity License Plate: The film's Brick Joke involves one.
  • Visual Gag: There is a poster for the Clark Gable and Jean Harlow movie Red Dust on the theater door after everyone has been turned into a literal approximation of the film's title.
  • Wicked Stepmother: The girls consider their stepmother to be one of these. Considering she thinks nothing of cheating on their father with the neighbor and punching them, they've got a point.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The desperate scientists have no problem draining kids for their blood.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Hector, however, can't bring himself to shoot the zombie kid that chases him through his house.
    Hector: Lucky for you I like kids!
  • What an Idiot!: In-universe. Audrey basically says this about screwing up their survival plan.
  • Wrench Whack
  • The X of Y