5 Reasons to make Night of the Comet the next 80s movie you watch

If you’re the type who needs convincing, here are some

Reasons Why You Should Watch Night of the Comet (1984)

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screenshots and review by Tessa

 

1. You’re sick of the classic 80s movies.

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Ok so, Night of the Comet isn’t OBSCURE – it has a whole fan site devoted to it. It was shown at an art museum. But it’s not on the level of Weird Science or other stuff that would automatically get namechecked in, say, Ready Player One. I’m getting old and I need to branch out into lesser-known fare from the 80s in order to satisfy my craving for 80s movies. Often this means watching the quality of the film degrade, in plot or acting or both, trying to find some small part of the film to make it worth watching (usually the clothes and/or hairstyles). Not so here.

 

2a. You like Linda Hamilton doppelgangers.

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Catherine Mary Stewart has the big blue eyes, strong jaw, tawny hair, and toughness of Linda Hamilton. Her character, Regina, is the daughter of a military-career-obsessed father. Her mom is dead and her stepmother is mean. She’s learned to take care of herself as much from her dad as from his absence –  and gets fun where she can take it – like keeping the top 10 slots on her favorite video game at work (a movie theater) filled with her initials. Her only deep bond is with her younger sister, so she has a protective and friendly side as well.

 

2b. Sisters!

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It’s great to see loving sisterly relationships portrayed. Regina and Samantha are totes believable as siblings. Regina has the older sister leading her way into the world thing down, where she makes mistakes and worries about her sister. Samantha, being the younger sister, is more carefree . She’s happy to be a sardonic blonde cheerleader type – tough & bubbly – and she wants to make her own decisions but kinda enjoys being in the protected zone. And R&S are close enough in age that they are also friends and can razz on each other without it becoming big drama. Except in the case of boyfriend-poaching which, if they both survive the cometpocalypse, will probably become a deep seated neurosis for Samantha in her adult life.

Overall, the main peeps were well-written and came off as characters. The zombies and the stepmom were pretty much evil though.

 

3. You’re into great 80s fashion.

 

I’ll start at the boots:

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And raise you legwarmers and spandex:

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Finishing with the irresistible shopping-at-the-mall-cuz-everyone-in-the-world-is-dust-or-zombies montage

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4. You want a post-apocalyptic movie that is as silly as it is gritty.

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The premise of the movie is that the Earth is in the path of a comet’s huge elliptical orbit – not the actual comet, but its emanations or whatever. The last time it hit earth the dinosaurs died, but everyone thinks that’s a coincidence. Most people are outside watching the comet when it passes through, and are pretty much instantaneously dried out and turned to dust.

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The ones who were partially exposed become zombie-like. They go a little crazy and kill and eat people, but they can also talk and reason, up to a certain point in the progression of… whatever it is. A virus? A bacteria? An environmental thing? It’s transmitted through the air. People who weren’t exposed at all are okay… or are they?  Some selfish scientists are trying to figure it out.

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The scientists also like legwarmers.

The actual science is, as you may expect, vague, and its resolution is in keeping with that vagueness. Scientific clarity isn’t really the point – the setup is a great background for seeing empty city streets and setting up alternately silly and scary situations, but with a SPOILER ALERT happy ending — that has our characters totally not worried about things like gas, and continuing to put things in the trash as if there were garbage collection still happening.  Walking Dead it ain’t.  Still, the zombies are scary – there aren’t very many, but the fact that they retain brain function for a while makes them trickier to deal with.  And the human characters can also be scary – Doris, the stepmother, punches Samantha in the face, and the scientists give off a vibe that made me feel uneasy – like they were losing their minds but they didn’t know it, and so had to be watched at all times.  There’s even a plot twist that faked me out and made me think that the writer/director was really being gutsy.

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5. You want a soundtrack chock full of smooth 80s jams.

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Everyone is constantly listening to the radio on giant boomboxes or in their car, and the songs are uniformly full of spiraling saxophones and pulsating keyboard chords. (The shopping montage features a non Cyndi Lauper version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.)

BONUS: Because empty cities are a little thrilling.

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14 Comments

  1. My favorite movie of Catherine Mary Stewart. Have seen so many times I have huge chunks memorized! I am friends with CMS and assist her with her official facebook page. You can check iot out at http://www.facebook.com/catherinemarystewart she is also on twitter @cmsall and official website catherinemarystewart.com. Great film – great lady – so is Kelli Maroney too!!!

  2. Teresa

     /  August 8, 2013

    This is one of my and my sister’s all-time favorites!! We used to watch it on Showtime or The Movie Channel every time it came on when we were home from school (or during summer vacation, whichever). Love this! I love that you love it and wrote an article about this. I’m sending this to my sister. Yes, we loved those boots, too, lol.

  3. I just watched Night of the Comet for the first time the other day and blogged about it too:
    http://www.paulliadis.com/blog/2013/04/night-of-the-comet/

    I like your post better than mine, though 🙂

  4. CMS

     /  April 14, 2013

    This is the best “NOTC” breakdown I’ve seen! Thank you for this. Those boots lived on in my closet and on my feet for years after the movie. I held on to quite a bit of my wardrobe. I loved it. My 16 year old son today even thinks the boots are cool…. 🙂

    • ohmygosh! thanks so much for reading the post! I’m glad to know that the wardrobe remained out in the world.

    • I also want to say that I put your other movies on my queue after watching this one.

  5. Great article and one of my favorite 80’s films. The actress who plays Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) is a friend of mine and has an official facebook site – so come check it out http://www.facebook.com/catherinemarystewart

  6. Also, I couldn’t help but notice that the sisters are R (my name starts with R!) and Samantha (which is my sister’s middle name), suggesting that this movie is really about us.

    • I think you’re right! You both fit the personality profiles… maybe you guys could star in a remake on the East Coast.

  7. those boots ARE amazing!

  8. James

     /  April 12, 2013

    Funny

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