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Film / Night of the Comet

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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 written and directed by Thom Eberhardt (Sole Survivor), starring Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Beltran, Kelli Maroney, Sharon Farrell, Mary Woronov, and Geoffrey Lewis. It contains elements of such diverse genres as science fiction, horror, zombie apocalypse, comedy, and romance.

It 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 having coincided with the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs. On the night of the comet's mid-December passage, large crowds gather to witness and celebrate the event. The following 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 "survivors" are either dying or turning into flesh-eating zombies. Regina (Stewart) and Samantha (Maroney) Belmont, teen sisters in Los Angeles, are the movie's protagonists.

In spite of its schlocky opening scenes, the movie is a pretty decent 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.

Not to be confused with Year of the Comet.

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 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. Their father doesn't gets like a complete saint either even if the girls love him more — he's implied to be a Blood Knight in some ability (Doris mentions on her rant that he wouldn't feel good "unless he comes home having killed a Sandinista") and his decision to marry Doris was out of intended practicality rather than love.
  • And Starring: Geoffrey Lewis as Carter.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 3b. There are still survivors, but they are incredibly rare. Civilization is still functioning, but by the time the film ends it's only been three days at the absolute most so we don't get to see when automated systems really go to hell.
  • Artistic License: Reggie erases DMK's #6 ranking by doing better. His high score should have just been dropped to #7.
  • Artistic License – Cars: The radio in the 1953 Buick convertible says "It's 450 FM in the PM" and while the first cars with FM radios did debut in 1952, that was in Germany and most American cars of the '50s had AM radios, though the car could have had an aftermarket FM radio added in the years since it was built.
  • Artistic License – Space: Comets are visible long before and after they pass, so not wanting to "miss the comet" is a little silly, though they probably meant its perihelion, when most visible.
  • Asshole Victim: Reggie and Sam's abusive, cheating step-mom, who is reduced to ash along with the guy she was cheating with. Also, all the scientists, save for Audrey.
  • Ax-Crazy: All the zombies, but especially the mall stockboys.
  • Bad Samaritan: Dr. Carter. The audience is led to believe that the survivors still alive in the city have been partially exposed and he wants to bring them to the think tank base to help them. We discover that actually, the think tank scientists were partially exposed, and Carter is having the outside survivors brought to the base to render them brain dead so their blood can be used for a potential serum to save the think tank scientists. Further, it's unknown if the serum will actually work, and everything Carter is doing may not save them anyway.
  • Beleaguered Boss: Mel, the movie theater manager. He has to basically pry Regina from the arcade game to get her to walk the house, mildly complains about the lost profits when Regina takes off with a bag of theater popcorn, and suspects that Larry Dupree is making money on the side renting out the films shown at the theater privately to outside parties and doing to Mel "What he's doing to Regina in the projection booth."
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Subverted. Audrey seems to be this, as she's adamant against bringing the survivors to the think tank, seemingly because they're partially infected and it will be a waste of resources to try and save them. She also has an argument with Carter that we can't hear when two young children are brought there. Also, Audrey appears to kill Samantha by lethal injection when her skin rash is mistaken for infection from the comet's rays, and holds Hector at gunpoint when he returns. The audience finds out they were entirely wrong about Audrey. She was against bringing in the outside survivors because the think tank members themselves were slowly dying from the comet's rays due to accidental partial exposure, and Carter was bringing in outside survivors to render them brain dead and use their blood for a serum that likely wouldn't save them anyway, so Audrey refused to take part. She faked Samantha's death and injects herself with the fatal poison to commit suicide after leaving Hector a note on everything that has transpired and information on where to find Samantha and Regina, who was taken to the think tank.
  • Black Comedy: And loads of it. One moment that stands out at the end is when Hector stashes guns and ammo away in a concrete garbage receptacle, and Sarah (the little girl) asks if she can have one of the guns that he's throwing away.
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning of the film, Reggie is playing a video game, where she is the only top scorer. However, this time she discovers 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.
  • The Cameo: One of Andy Warhol's girls, Mary Woronov, plays Dr. White. She starred in Paul Bartel's films.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Sam is aghast that Reggie has the kids wait until the traffic light changes before crossing the street, noting Los Angeles is now a "ghost town" and there's no traffic — then nearly gets hit by DMK in a sports car.
    Regina: (aside to kids) See what happens?
    Danny: God, I'm sorry but you shouldn't cross against the light like that.
  • 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?
  • Color-Coded Characters: The main hero survivors wear bright colors, such as electric blue and pink for Samantha, teal for Regina, and red for Hector. The two young survivors also wear bright blue and pink robes. The shady think tank scientists all largely wear bland, pale gray coveralls. Doctors Carter and Wilson wear a blue and green turtleneck underneath them respectively, but the shade is so dark it often appears black, hinting at the think tank's shady motivations and questionable morality, and subtly signalling to the audience that they're not to be trusted.
  • Comet of Doom: A comet is due to appear in the night sky, and this comet is such a rare event that it becomes a massive celebration for its very rare appearance. (With an orbit of 65 million years, it was last seen over Earth when the dinosaurs died out. A coincidence, surely.) As its trail sweeps across the Earth, anybody directly exposed to it, meaning almost the entire human race, is reduced to red dust; anybody who suffers indirect exposure becomes a homicidal, slowly-dying zombie. A small handful of survivors manage to shelter themselves away from exposure by accident.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Audrey is caught between helping Carter on his plan to keep them alive, or help the outside survivors that Audrey knows Carter plans to essentially kill. She quasi-sides with the outside survivors, faking Samantha's death and giving Hector the information he needs to rescue Regina from the think tank before she elects to Take a Third Option and kill herself by lethal injection before the partial exposure from the comet's rays turn her into a bloodthirsty zombie, and then into dust.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • The only two female non-zombfied survivors in the city happen to be sisters who both managed to adequately shield themselves from the comet in different places on the same night.
    • Samantha and Regina manage to team up with seemingly the sole male left alive in the city, who also just happens to be young, and handsome so that they both have an attractive male to fight over.
  • 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!
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • The Sole Surviving Scientist group detected a relationship between the comet approaching and the extinction of the dinosaurs and so made an advanced bunker lab to ride out the approach. It only partially worked. Somebody didn't fully lock down the bunker and enough radiation seeped in through the open ventilation that they are all dead men walking.
    • Hector at the end, when he stashes weapons and ammunition in an easily accessible spot that the average person would never consider checking for any reason.
  • Damsel in Distress, Damsel out of Distress: Played with. 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.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The comet. By the end of the film, we are looking at near-total human extinction at the very least.
  • 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 and homes, radio broadcasts, Hector dressing as Santa Claus 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 a dream where she gets pulled over and attacked by zombie cops. After she wakes up, she goes to the bathroom, gets attacked by zombie cops again, and wakes up for real.
  • Driven to Suicide: Audrey White, knowing she's doomed by the accidental exposure to the comet, and unwilling to sacrifice the uninfected survivors to prolong her own life, leaves a confession and information on where to find Regina and Samantha for Hector to read, and tells him that they mistakenly allowed themselves to be partially exposed before giving herself a fatal injection of the drug she was supposedly giving Samantha and quickly dying.
    • Also: Dr. Carter. Carter is clearly past the point of no return when it comes to the comet zombie infection when they get in the car to pursue the other survivors. Dr. Wilson loudly states that he smells gas, indicating the car is rigged. Carter makes eye contact with Wilson and very deliberately turns the key, blowing up himself, Wilson, and anyone else in the car with him.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Regina's boyfriend Larry isn't the greatest of guys, but he's not entirely a Jerkass either. He's one of a handful of people who are lucky enough to be in a place safe from the comet's rays, and makes it to the next day (whereas billions of others did not.) Just as it seems he's going to be a key player in events, he opens the door to leave the theater, is murdered by a comet zombie with a wrench, and exits the film in the first act.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The think tank members are briefly glimpsed during the opening credits, as the narrator states that "there were a few who saw [the comet's arrival] as more than just a coincidence".
  • 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: Along with the red dust, the only thing left of most of the world's inhabitants.
  • Fallout Shelter Fail: The United States' best and brightest have built themselves a hermetically sealed bunker to preserve the science and knowledge need to rebuild human civilization. Unfortunately, the external air pumps are left running, sucking in the tainted air and dooming the occupants to a slow zombification process.
  • Fanservice: In one scene Sam (who already was running around in a cheerleader outfit) undresses down to her bra and panties to wash off in the radio station's bathroom, only for the zombie cop from her dream to suddenly appear behind her and stab her. Turns out that the scene was a Dream Within a Dream.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Knowing that the think tank members are doomed to die from partial exposure to the comet, Dr. Carter seemingly can't understand why Audrey doesn't want to get in line with the other members and render healthy survivors brain dead to use their blood in a desperate gambit to keep themselves alive, and seems put out every time she argues with him against doing so.
  • Fluffy Fashion Feathers: The white marabou jacket and boa Samantha wear in the (sort of) shopping spree scene.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the opening scene, a reporter makes an offhand mention of how on the other side of the world, where the comet has already appeared, communications have oddly ceased...
    • The think tank scientists' conversation about the effects of partial exposure. The way the scene is framed, it makes it seem that the main protagonists are the ones who are potentially dying from partial exposure. In reality, it's the scientists themselves who were all accidentally exposed, and all the positive action they seem to be taking to "help" the survivors is just a ruse to render them brain dead and use them to help the think tank scientists survive.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Invoked by Willy, who says he was a lowly department store stockboy but now he rules L.A.
  • Gamer Chick: Reggie's first scene has her playing an arcade game rather than working. All of the high scores, save for one, is hers, and after the comet passes, she spends time the next morning playing the game again to erase "DMK's" score and make every high score on the game her own initials once again.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Samantha and Regina go by "Sam" and "Reg"/"Reggie" during the film.
  • Girly Bruiser: Despite their Military Brat upbringing and being capable of defending themselves and handling weapons, the sisters still take time to do 'girly' things like trying on clothes at the mall. Nothing could exemplify this trope further than seeing Sam in a cheerleader costume shooting up a car and discussing the relative merits of different makes of submachine gun.
  • Headache of Doom: As the comet is passing over LA and giving a spectacular light show, the final thing we see before the next day is Doris fidgeting a little before gently clutching her head and worriedly looking up at the comet's lightshow.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Minder and Davenport are "sent to see Santa" in the same manner as their victims.
  • Human Resources: The scientists plan: to capture uninfected people, induce brain death and put them in life support so they'd provide a constant source of flesh blood to try to cure their infection. Dr. White, before killing herself, says it's pointless, only delaying the inevitable.
  • Improvised Weapon: A keyboard is used to hurt one of the scientists on the climax.
  • Jerkass: Pretty much everyone the heroes run into during the course of the film. The mall stock boys plan to murder the girls just for the fun of it, and the think tank scientists act benevolent, but all of them, particularly Dr. Carter, are only playing nice to give them a similar fate of being brain dead and using their bodies to harvest fresh blood.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: Dr. Carter. Not only does he act cold, detached, and seemingly have a lack of empathy, he thinks nothing of using completely healthy survivors in a desperate gambit to harvest their blood to make a serum to keep himself and his like-minded think tank group alive. He doesn't even know for sure if the serum will work at all. When the survivors get the drop on Minder and Davenport and leave them hooked to masks with gas, he coldly and angrily tells the other scientists to leave them to their fates. He shows not one ounce of remorse for considering his and the group's survival as being more important than the survival of those that aren't infected, and after he turns into a comet zombie, he starts the ignition of a vehicle he knows has been booby-trapped to blow himself up, along with everyone in the vehicle with him.
  • Kicking Ass in All Her Finery: The sisters fighting off the mall stockboys after trying on the mall's wares.
  • The Last Man Heard a Knock...:
    • Reggie has to shake Sam into understanding that everyone else in the city is dead — then the DJ's voice is heard on the radio. When they get to the radio station, they find that although the station is still broadcasting, the DJ's voice had been pre-recorded. (He's dead too.)
    • At the station, Sam plays around with the equipment, and playfully broadcasts the station's number — and the phone rings. It's the Project's think tank scientists calling 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.
    • Sam demonstrates that in a depopulated city, there's no need to wait for the signal before crossing the street. She's almost hit by DMK's speeding car.
  • Large Ham: Willie delivers his lines with the cadence and gusto of an insane game show host.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Doris is verbally abusive to Regina, verbally and physically abusive with Samantha, and is unsubtly carrying on an affair with Chuck, the neighbor. Doris is turned into dust right next to Chuck within the first 10 minutes or so of the film.
  • 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 in the final scene. Sam manages to say that her standing in the street isn't dangerous if everybody else is gone two seconds before she has to get the hell out of a way of a racing BMW.
  • Lured into a Trap: Dr. Carter's think tank base is supposedly a safe haven for Regina, Hector, and other survivors, but in actuality, Carter plans to render them all brain dead and harvest their blood. Carter has the unsuspecting Regina brought there and Hector and Samantha have to go and get her out.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Carter, the leader of the surviving scientists and the guy who pushes for trying to use any other survivors' blood as a serum to try (emphasis on try) to stay alive longer.
  • 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 stockboys who have other ideas and think they now own the place.
  • Meet Cute: Sam finally gets a guy when Danny nearly runs her over after she refuses to wait for the light to change before crossing a deserted street.
  • Military Brat: The girls, which is the reason they know how to handle sub-machine guns (and one of the gags being that they loathe the MAC-10s that they managed to find, preferring Uzis) and they have to tolerate their abusive stepmother Doris (because their father left to do a tour in Central America (Doris mentions him fighting the Sandinistas) and married Doris so they would have a legal guardian).
  • Nobody Here but Us Statues: Reggie poses like a mannequin to get the drop on the mall-stockboy zombies.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The voice of the radio station disc jockey is provided by Steve LaBeau, and he even identifies himself as such in some of his pre-recorded tracks in the film. LaBeau really was a Los Angeles-based disc jockey at the time the film was made, and his vocal performance would have been an Easter egg to L.A. audiences who saw it then.
  • Obvious Villain, Secret Villain: Both subverted and played straight. Audrey seems to be the obvious villain, as she appears entirely against allowing Regina, Hector, and Samantha be brought to the base because they may have been partially exposed to the effects of the comet. Later, we find out that wasn't the case at all. She was against bringing them there because she knew Dr. Carter and the other think tank scientists were just going to render them brain dead and harvest their blood, essentially killing them to stay alive. Played straight with Dr. Carter as the secret villain. He seems to have the best interests of the other survivors at heart until Audrey reveals to Hector that all of the scientists are dying of partial comet exposure, and Carter's sole reason for wanting to bring them to their base is to essentially murder them and continually harvest their blood.
  • Opening Narration:
    "Since before recorded time, it had swung through the universe in an elliptical orbit so large that its very existence remained a secret of time and space. But now, in the last few years of the twentieth century, the visitor was returning.
    "The citizens of Earth would get an extra Christmas present this year: as their planet orbited through the tail of the comet, scientists predicted a light show of stellar proportions, something not seen on Earth for sixty-five million years – indeed, not since the time that the dinosaurs disappeared virtually overnight.
    "There were a few who saw this as more than just a coincidence. But, most didn't."
  • Pair the Spares: Implied with Sam and the hitherto mysterious "DMK" after he shows up at the end.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: The boy and girl Reggie, Sam and Hector save are wearing bathrobes over their pajamas that make them this.
  • Pom-Pom Girl: Sam is on the pep squad and spends the first half of the film in a cheerleading uniform. She is sweeter and more responsible than her sister for the most part (a Values Dissonance line or two aside) and is just as good of a shot as Regina.
  • 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. Sarah and Ryan aren't super happy about it either.
  • Ragnarök Proofing: Short term version. The film ends about two or three days into the apocalypse, long before any systems start to fail.
  • Red Herring: At the midway point, Samantha starts scratching herself frequently. We also saw her stepmother Doris scratch herself right before being turned to dust, and the think tank scientists also observe her do it and believe she's slowly turning. However, Samantha states that she gets a stress rash in tough situations, and that's what she has. She's not infected, and lives to the end.
    • A HUGE one drives the plot from the midway point to the film's end. We're introduced to the think tank after they make initial contact with Samantha at the radio station. They also discuss how anyone that was partially exposed ends up dying, seemingly indicating Regina, Hector, and Samantha. Dr. Carter stresses the need to bring them to their base of operations, but he clashes with Dr. Audrey White, who says it's useless to bother. The way everything plays out, it seems like Carter while not very empathetic due to being a scientist, is still trying to do the right thing by the outside survivors, whereas Audrey is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who just wants to leave them to die. Right before she commits suicide, we learn the REAL truth. When they were talking about partially exposed survivors, they weren't talking about Reg, Hector, and Sam, they were talking about THEMSELVES, and their accidental exposure through the open ventilation system, and the fact that they're all going to soon be a pile of dust with everyone else. Reg, Hector, and Sam aren't dying at all. We also discover that Audrey was adamant against bringing them to the base because Carter wanted to make them brain dead and harvest their blood for a serum to keep the think tank group alive, whereas Audrey wanted to leave them be so they could continue to live, and allow the think tank survivors to die for their error in allowing themselves to be accidentally infected.
  • Reduced to Dust: When the Earth passes through the tail of a comet, all of the living creatures fully exposed to the comet chemicals are reduced to a red dust.
  • Sex Signals Death:
    • Subverted, twice. The reason Reggie and Hector survived the comet is that the former was busy having sex in a steel-lined projection booth and the latter was spending the night with a girl in the back of a steel-lined truck.
    • Played straight with their partners. The guy Reggie hooked up with is bludgeoned to death with a wrench the next day as soon as he leaves the projection booth and Hector recounts seeing the girl being torn apart by zombies after she ran away from them in fright.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Larry is on the phone making a deal to rent out one of the movie theater's films to a buddy, the backround music overheard on the film Larry is currently screening at the theater is the same music that plays when Roger is fighting off the blonde female zombie in the truck from Dawn of the Dead (1978). Later Larry gets killed and eaten by someone who was partially exposed to the effects of the comet and turned into a "comet zombie."
    • When Larry tries to leave the theater and the zombie gabs him with a wrench, the shot very much looks like an homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). 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.
    • To Valley Girl. Both movies are produced by the same company, share an actor (Michael Bowen), and Sam holds up the Valley Girl soundtrack LP during her brief stint as a DJ.
    • Willy's Precision F-Strike quoted above is a paraphrase of a Daffy Duck line in Daffy Duck and Egghead ("I'm not crazy, I just don't give a darn!").
  • 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.
  • Sick and Wrong: Reggie's reaction to the scientists telling two children they're "going to see Santa" when they're planning to make them brain-dead Human Resources.
  • 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 — though in Reggie's case, it's "had sex during the apocalypse". In fairness, she probably slept too.
  • Sole Surviving Scientist: A small group of these (who got a minor dose of comet radiation even with their preparedness, and thus are trying to stave off their inevitable doom by any means necessary) become the antagonists for the final act.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Regina and Samantha blast a cover of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" on a portable radio as they're trying on clothes and having fun during a montage at the mall, which could be by design. However, once the evil mall stock boys make their presence known, the radio shifts to the suspenseful-sounding "Eyes on You," as Regina and Samantha battle the stock boys with Regina's Mac-10 and various objects around the store. The song keeps playing until Willy, the leader, tells his underling to shut the music off, and the underling takes a shotgun to the radio.
  • Taking You with Me: Seems to be the case with Dr. Carter. Having crossed over into full comet zombie mode, he gets into a car to chase the unaffected survivors with Dr. Wilson and other team members. Wilson loudly states he smells gasoline, indicating the car is booby-trapped. Carter makes eye contact with Wilson, reaches over and deliberately turns the key, Blowing up himself, Wilson, and anyone else in the car with them.
  • 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 and become increasingly crazy from their brain functions shutting down.
  • Tempting Fate: One of the partygoers in an older man dismissing claims that the comet could be damgerous, stating "In 1910, Halley's Comet returned and people thought we were going to die then."
  • 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 that may not even work is utterly despicable.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In-universe. Audrey basically says this about her own group screwing up their survival plan.
  • Turncoat: Unwilling to go along with Dr. Carter's plans to render survivors brain dead and harvest their blood, Audrey fakes Samantha's death, shoots Oscar dead, and gives Hector the necessary information to stop Carter's plans before she commits suicide.
  • Undead Child: Hector opens the door to his house to find a zombie kid, who chases him.
  • Unfriendly Fire: Audrey shoots Oscar dead when he starts to figure out Audrey is turning against him and the other think tank members and starts to go for his gun.
  • Valley Girl: Samantha. It takes her a while to figure out that Everybody's Dead, Dave, for starters, to the point where she's almost trying to ignore the information altogether.
  • 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 seen 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. No one sheds a tear when she's dusted.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Aside from the Wicked Stepmother:
    Willy: If bachlorette number one isn't out here in half a tick, I'm gonna ice bachlorette number two, got it?
  • 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!
  • Wrench Whack: The first zombie that Larry and Reggie encounter kills Larry with a pipe wrench. Reggie later finds it on the ground with Larry's blood on it after she gets locked out of the theater on accident and sees his motorcycle still in the alley.
  • Wrong Side All Along: Regina, Hector, and Samantha are all eager to join up with the scientists of the think tank when they make their presence known. After the scientists and guards save her and Samantha from being murdered by the mall stock boys, Regina and Samantha both eagerly trust them and Regina even allows them to fly her out to the base with them. However, the think tank members were always planning to render them brain dead and harvest their healthy blood to keep themselves alive, and they end up in a fight for survival.
  • The X of Y: The Night of the Comet.
  • You're Insane!: Invoked by Regina, and gleefully defied by the leader of the zombified stockboys.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: People who were only partially exposed to the comet. Dr. White snarks that the genius scientists got infected because some idiot forgot to close the ventilation ducts.
  • Zombie Infectee: Everyone in the think tank has been exposed partially to the effects of the comet and are slowly dying, although the only ones we see fully-transition to comet zombies before they die are Dr. Carter and Rogers.