On the Sunny Side of the Street – Night of the Comet (1984)

As far as post-apocalyptic movies go, there are none that take as lighthearted an approach as Night of the Comet which finds a couple of sisters taking on the world, or at least what happens to be left of it. Starring Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney respectively along with Robert Beltran and a few others, they make this B movie quite the fun watch. After a cosmic wonder, the appearance of a rare comet that people would call a once in a lifetime event, it would turn out to be just that and more than they could ever possibly comprehend as it finds those same humans perishing because of it. Those that are left were either sheltered from the storm or have been infected, turned into zombies that after a time, would soon meet the same fate as those who immediately turned into dust before them.

What is most surprising about this film is just how good it actually is and while most might tune out claiming it to be just another example of 80’s cheese, which it is, those who stay will discover likeable characters, a familiar yet exciting premise and just enough to put a smile on the face. Some of it is going to induce groans and moans, mainly from a few of the performances, but the special effects were decent and the storyline and script not all that bad. Even better would be its heroine in Reggie, a girl who takes as good as she gets and one who knows both how to have fun and when to be responsible. That is put on full display after she discovers just what it is that the comet did, when she realises that there could be very few people left upon the Earth and because her sister is one, she is going to look out for the both of them. Lucky for Reggie that Samantha is just like her in almost every respect – headstrong and knowing what she wants out of life. One thing that is unforgivable is writer/director Thom Eberhardt painting Reggie as a whore near the beginning of the picture, especially when she is supposed to be the lead of the film. It is something he rectifies later on with great characterisation, but it puts a taint in the water and leaves a bad taste which thankfully is lessened as time passes unless one actively thinks about it. Perhaps it was meant for a laugh in some respect, but it was not funny in the slightest and should have been left out of the film altogether.

As far as the horror in the picture goes, there is very little aside from a few zombies here and there, the majority of it simply being the situation those that are left behind find themselves in and trying not to be overwhelmed by it. It takes a lot of strength not to freak out knowing that everyone is gone, that the governments of the world have collapsed and that society, what is left of it, is soon to follow. Of course, the film never really delves too far into that, instead going for a laugh rather than making its audience think, but it is there if one decides to look for it.

For those avid watchers, they will see Geoffrey Lewis, frequent collaborator of Clint Eastwood, in a role as the head scientist and main big bad of the film. Having Lewis appear was a stroke of genius as the man not only adds credibility, but is a great character actor that can play anything. Factoring in everything else including a happy ending, Night of the Comet turned out to be more entertaining than it probably should have been – a perfect blend of science-fiction, horror and comedy.

3 out of 5

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