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Archive for April 3rd, 2010

Revisiting Night of the comet

When I reviewed Zombiland last year I compared its plot to Night of the Comet, a movie I hadn’t actually seen for nearly twenty years. So when the movie became available on DVD (for the first time in the UK) I put it on my rental list.

A comet is passing the earth, the last time it passed was 65 million years ago and that night saw the end on the dinosaurs! Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) works in the art deco El Rey Movie Theatre in LA. She spends the night in the projection room, the next day she wakes up to find the population of LA and possibly the world have been turned to dust. She goes home to discover her cheerleader sister Samantha (Kelli Maroney) has also survived. They hook up with truck driver, Hector (Robert Beltran, Chakotay from Star Trek Voyager). They soon discover they are not as alone as they first thought when they encounter zombie like survivors. There is also a government think tank who suspecting the danger shut themselves away. Led by Geoffrey Lewis (better know as Clint Eastwood’s none primate sidekick in Every Which Way But Loose and Juliette Lewis’s farther). A stupid mistake during the night causes the think tank to change their agenda.

On re-watching the movie it is more 80’s than I remember filled with the periods hairstyles, fashion and “valley girl” stereotypes. The general tone of the movie is comic, much like The Lost Boys., the real surprise was the lack of horror and gore. For something remembered as a Zombie movie (sometimes referred to by its working title teenage comet zombies) the zombies aren’t actually zombies and there aren’t may of them. The film does have the usual political subtext of a zombie movies but it is pretty thin and formulaic. The movie is actually quite poor but like so many other 80s horror comedies it is infectious viewing. This is because of the likable characters and the snappy if ridicules dialogue. For example while shooting up a Cadillac on the street for target practice army brat Samantha’s MAC-10 machine pistol jams. With no sense of irony or humour she turns to her sister and says “You see this is the problem with these things Daddy would have gotten us Uzis”. In an equally dry tone Regina tells her “The car didn’t notice the difference”, but then Regina had told us earlier that “the MAC-10 submachine gun was practically designed for housewives”.  Samantha gets most of the best lines. When they take over a radio station, not knowing if anyone is alive to be listening she declares “I’ll be taking requests from all you teenage comet zombies”

As much as I love this movie I have to admit it isn’t very good Meredith from M Carter at the Movies may describe it as “Terrifically Terrible Cinema”. The Rosses from Ross v Ross may call it a Guilty Pleasure. Both of these are pretty accurate labels but in its defence the movie does present relatively strong female role models, as dumb as they are at, the sisters are generally more capable than the male characters. We also get to see haunting early morning empty LA cityscapes nearly twenty years before Danny Boyle gave us a similar vision of London in 28 Days Later.

 

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