Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Night of the Comet (Thom Eberhardt, 1984)

This movie is totally awesome! I know, it's a hackneyed idiom that has been used to extol cinematic shapes and colours for like, a quarter of a century or something, but it's the only sensible way I can think of to describe this flick. At any rate, when a motion picture comes along that combines the chromatic whimsicality of Valley Girl and the shopping spree-enhanced putrefaction of Dawn of the Dead, you know my eyes will be looking in its general direction the first chance I get. Well, I finally got my chance this past week, as I gazed upon the righteous neon sheen of Night of the Comet: the gold-encrusted scrunchy of teenage comet-zombie movies (one whose working title was apparently, "Teenage Mutant Horror Comet Zombies." Perfectly capturing the zeitgeist of 1980's fashion and philosophy, this giddy little film tells the story of Regina (a feisty young go-getter) and Samantha (a delightfully dim lotus-eater), two sisters who, one morning, find themselves all alone after a giant comet whizzes through the earths' atmosphere, vaporizing almost everyone and turning Los Angeles into a virtual ghost town. Through his use of drum machine-assisted cheekiness (the music score is a spine-tingling discharge of antiquated synths and wailing guitars), a gaudy colour scheme (the radio station walls were awash with flamboyant purples and mirthful reds), and opaque cinematography (a thicker than usual haze lurks over the City of Angels), writer-director Thom Eberhardt and his crack crew have created one humdinger of a comet-based zombie movie.

Add roomy hairdos, a Mac-10 shootout in ladies apparel, a hunky Robert Beltran (Eating Raoul), the legendary Mary Woronov (Rock 'n' Roll High School), Michael Bowen (Valley Girl) and Dick "Let's go get sushi and not pay" Rude to the mix, and we're not just talking about an inflamed pair of teal legwarmers lighting up the night sky, we're talking about a souped-up masterpiece.

Getting the fashions just right and teaching a pre-teen zombie to growl effectively is one thing, but casting is the key to the success of a comet-based zombie opus, especially one that features what has to be one of the most spiritually satisfying of shopping sequences ever caught on film. The casting of Edmonton's own Catherine Mary Stewart is a great start.

She is rock solid as Regina, a movie theatre employee who has a healthy addiction to the classic arcade game Tempest. Displaying a clearheadedness when it comes to firearms and dating, Catherine's plucky portrayal of the generously-coiffed hellcat is shimmering beacon for little girls to the world over.

The film's tour-de-force performance, however, comes in the diminutive, yet shapely form of Kelli Maroney. Playing the object-oriented Samantha, Kelli gives a performance for the ages. Wearing a magenta and turquoise cheerleading outfit, and a generously-conditioned mop of golden hair, the character of Samantha represents everything I stand for and epitomizes my belief in superficiality and unsupervised vacuity. (When the comet wipes out humanity, Samantha's main concern is breakfast cereal.)

Also, Sam's empty-headed whining (I love how she sulks when she finds out her sister has bagged the last man on earth), snarky one-liners ("You were born with an asshole, Doris, you don't need Chuck"), and frustration over her constantly jamming Mac-10 sub-machine ("Daddy would have gotten us Uzis") were downright spellbinding. Anyway, it's been awhile since I've come across a character that I've been so in tune with. And I tell ya, it's a good feeling.

video uploaded by arcadeshopper


  1. There's a Night of the Comet fan site at

  2. I've had that site bookmarked for quite some time now. :)

  3. My first memories of the vivacious Kelli Maroney was in her very first acting gig as the barely legal troublesome young vixen Kimberly Harris in the old ABC soap opera, Ryan's Hope. I almost felt guilty enjoying her sinfully wicked performance back then.


  4. Kelli Maroney as Sam is one of the coolest movie character's ever! I so want her cheerleading uniform.