It was a different time. People were different. The people of the early-mid 80s faced a completely different set of cultural, social and political issues and stresses. And yet, they still managed to make an unbelievably good film from time to time. “Night of the Comet” is one such film.
No, no. I don’t mean to say it won (or should have won) any awards. But, I do believe it is one of the best end of the world/apocalypse-centric films made. Released in 1984, the same year as “The Terminator”, James Cameron’s groundbreaking and bleak vision of the future, “Night of the Comet” features similarly strong female characters and something “The Terminator” does not. A sense of humor. Written and directed by Thom Eberhardt, the guy who went on to direct and/or pen “Honey, I Blew up the Kid” and “Captain Ron”, the film takes every opportunity to poke a little fun at the impending termination of the human race.
It’s true that by 1984, the end of the world milleu had been aptly explored in cinema. And, of course, would be for decades to come. But to say that “Night of the Comet” somehow lacks originality seems a bit harsh (Variety magazine, I’m looking at you … well, the 1984 version of you). Sure, there are zombies (zombies!!), valley girls, and jocks, and of course there are evil scientists. Dime a dozen and par for the course. There’s underground, secret military bunkers. There are unpatrolled streets – drive as fast as you want! Unmanned malls and gallerias just ripe for the looting! These are elements you can find in just about any apocalyptic film, from just about any decade. There’s a reason for that, Variety magazine. This has become part of the lexicon of the end. Without it, audiences just won’t buy your version of the apocalypse.
There’s also that particular kind of 80s magic too. The over the top, heavy-handed film processing (the skies are literally red), there’s neon everywhere, the cheeseball rock music (sigh), the blood and gore! It’s quintessentially 80s. And speaking of the 80s, how much (insert illicit drug of choice here) do you think they used when making this film? Who knows, but I’m not judging.
“Night of the Comet” is a testament to at least one thing. As it was then, so shall it ever be: teenagers want to be in control, even if it means the end of the world has come. Who cares if all their friends and family members, hell, everyone has been reduced to puss-faced zombies? If you were young in America, you were on top of the world. How much has really changed?
Explore more –
Watch the trailer: Night of the Comet (lo-fi) trailer
Watch the movie for FREE with Amazon Prime: Night of the Comet full-length streaming