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

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

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:

  • 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 black eye 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
  • Actor Allusion: Reggie, played by Catherine Mary Stewart, has the highest scores in a video game.
  • 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).
  • Axe 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. There 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!
  • Dawson Casting: Reggie says she is 18, but the actress Catherine Mary Stewart was 24. Samantha was in high school - safe to assume 15 or 16, but Kelli Maroney was 23.
  • Dead Man Walking: All of the zombies.
  • Depopulation Bomb
  • Desolation Shot
  • 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.
  • Distressed Damsel: 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.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Sam has one (two?) of these involving zombie motorcycle cops.
  • '80s Hair: Oh dear Lord, yes.
  • Elaborate Underground Base
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: The only thing left of most of the world's inhabitants.
  • Evil Stepmother: The girls consider their stepmother to be one of these.
  • 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.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Hey, Uncle Harvey owns a theater!
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: The little girl rescued at the end went on to voice Jenny "XJ-9" Wakeman in My Life as a Teenage Robot.
  • Hoist By Their Own Petard: Minder and Davenport are "sent to see Santa" in the same manner as their victims.
  • Improvised Weapon: A keyboard!
  • Large Ham: Willie delivers his lines with the cadence and gusto of an insane game show host.
  • Look Both Ways: Parodied and subverted.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Carter.
  • Mayor of a Ghost Town
  • Military Brat: The girls.
  • Old Shame: Robert Beltran doesn't much like to talk about this movie.
    • He did do a interview about the film with the new Shout! Factory release of it.
  • 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.
  • Ragnarok-Proofing: Short term version.
  • 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.
  • Sorry I Left The Bgm On: During the scene at the mall, the background music is cut off when the boombox is destroyed.
  • 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.
  • Unintentional Period Piece
  • 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.
  • 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
  • X Meets Y: Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets The Omega Man.
  • The X of Y

NightbreedCreator/Shout! FactoryNightbreed
NightbreedCreator/Shout! FactoryNightbreed
The NeverEnding StoryFilms of the 1980sOnce Upon a Time in America

alternative title(s): Night Of The Comet
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