While the rest of the city of Los Angeles is excited to witness the passing of a rare comet – the first of its kind since the dinosaurs mysteriously went extinct 65 million years ago – Reggie (Catherine Mary Stewart, Weekend at Bernie’s) stays at the the movie theater where she works to “make it” with her coworker, Larry (Michael Bowen, Breaking Bad). Upon awaking the following morning, Reggie notices that Larry is gone. She finds him being eaten by a zombie outside, but she manages to escape from the creature. She notices a strange, red haze looming over the city, and there is not a soul in sight. Gone are the bustling crowds, replaced with piles of dust and clothes.
Reggie heads home where she finds her sister, Sam (Kelli Maroney, Chopping Mall), who also missed the comet and survived the night. After hearing a DJ on the radio, the pair go to the local radio station from which he broadcasts. The DJ proves to be a recording, but they instead meet another survivor, a young truck driver named Hector (Robert Beltran, Eating Raoul). They use the radio station to broadcast a message, which is picked up by an underground government research facility. As if zombies didn’t pose enough of a threat, the scientists want to use the survivors to ensure their own livelihood.
Despite being written and directed by a man (Thom E. Eberhardt), Reggie and Sam are refreshingly strong female characters. They were influenced by the success of the movie Valley Girl – in fact, that film’s writers, Wayne Crawford and Andrew Lane, served as producers on Night of the Comet – which allows them to be natural and relatable in addition to empowering. This is best exemplified by the scene in which the girls raid a mall department store for clothing and make-up (in a montage set to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”) before defending themselves from attackers in an action-packed gun fight.
It’s not hard to tell that the addition of zombies to the script was essentially an afterthought, as they are few and far between. That said, they’re a good way to keep the plot moving. The zombies are a bit more spry than the classic Romero variety, and there seems to be several stages of zombification. However, it is the scientists – with the exception of the disenchanted Audrey White (Mary Woronov, The House of the Devil) – who are the protagonist’s biggest threat.
Scream Factory’s Night of the Comet Blu-ray/DVD combo pack offers new interviews with Stewart, Maroney, Beltran and makeup effects designer David B. Miller (who worked on A Nightmare on Elm Street the same year). The discs also include three audio commentaries: one with Stewart and Maroney, another from writer-director Thom E. Eberhardt and a third with production designer John Muto (Home Alone). The participants share several of the same anecdotes, so a group track may have been preferable, but they each offer a unique perspective. Rounding out the extras are a couple of photo galleries and the trailer.
Night of the Comet is a kitschy B-movie dripping with ’80s nostalgia. Despite its small budget, the entertaining apocalyptic romp embraces action, sci-fi, horror and tongue-in-cheek comedy. It’s no surprise that such a fun little flick developed a cult following. Now, courtesy of Scream Factory, those fans have a definition edition of the movie to enjoy.