As soon as I decided to watch my previous entry, Chopping Mall, I instantly knew that I would follow it up with Night Of The Comet, also starring the fantastic Kelli Maroney. Back when I worked at Wizard, a bunch of us would get together for movie nights. For one of them — dubbed Night Of The Living Nights — we watched Night Of The Comet, Night Of The Creeps and Nightbreed, all of which were firsts for me! I’ve seen all three again since then with mixed results. Creeps just is not for me (Atkins’ cartoon detective character is a real bummer) and I just saw the director’s cut of Nightbreed just last year. Now it’s time to talk Comet!
After liking Jim Wynorski’s The Return Of Swamp Thing, one film jumped out to me in his filmography: Chopping Mall! It is befuddling to me that I have yet to write about this film on here, though Mr. Dastardly and I did cover it on our short-lived double feature podcast. It’s an easy favorite from this era that I discovered well after the fact. I’m not sure how hard it is to get your hands on the Lionsgate Vestron Blu-ray, but I recommend it!
I’ve seen Night Of The Comet once before, but it was at a Manly Movie Mamajama (also featuring Night Of The Creeps and Nightbreed) with a bunch of pals, so I didn’t remember much about it beyond the basic premise: a pair of sisters happen to live while most of the world is taken out by a comet, also there’s zombies. See, the MMMs revolve around a bunch of dudes drinking beer, eating greasy food, watching movies and cracking jokes, so it’s probably not the best place to see a movie for the first time. Having watched it again on October 2nd, I was surprised that some very unusual elements from the movie remained in my head like how huge and weird the radio station was and one scene in a mall where one of the girls puts down an Uzi-type gun and picks up a shoe.
To elaborate on the plot a bit, sisters Regina (the older, more responsible one) and Sam (the immature one) survive when a comet passes by because they happened to be in lead-lined rooms at the time. Neither of them quite catch on to the fact that everyone’s dead or turned into a zombie right away, but after they do they head to one of the most opulently decorated radio stations around (by 80s standards) where they meet a dude named Hector. They split back up and the girls go to the mall where some geeks from a think tank come to pick them up, but there’s something sinister going on.
I don’t want to give too much away because I want you guys to see this movie. When I watched it the first time, so many jokes were being thrown around that it was hard to really focus on the movie. Plus, some of the performances and costumes are so over the top that it can be hard to take them seriously, but there’s some real meat on the bones. Both Regina and Sam have some real moments of clarity and sadness to their performances. Plus, I give huge credit to any production that can make a big city look deserted. I also have an affinity for big, empty mall scenes where people run free and take whatever they want, but that’s a solid tether to my love for Dawn Of The Dead.
Another element of the flick I really dug was the characterization of Regina, mainly because she was written exactly like every slick 80s friend in every movie I can remember. Think Styles from Teen Wolf (the movie, haven’t seen the show), but a girl and you’re pretty much in the right headspace. She loves playing video games to the point where she gets crazy pissed that somebody wormed their way onto the top score of the game she plays while goofing off at her movie theater job. The actress pulled it off and made a million dudes wish they could pal around (and make out) with her.
Night Of The Comets is like a Godiva chocolate covered in an M&M shell, it’s slick and colorful on top, but when you get bellow the surface, there’s really something there to sink your teeth into. Okay, maybe not a Godiva chocolate, but something better than you’d expect inside of an M&M. It’s not a Halloween or Jaws by any means, but it’s more than you’d expect from the flick.