Night of the Comet: Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Written and directed by Thom Eberhardt
1984, Region A, 95 minutes, Rated PG-13
Blu-ray released on November 19th, 2013
Catherine Mary Stewart as Regina
Kelli Maroney as Samantha
Robert Beltran as Hector
Mary Woronov as Audrey
Geoffrey Lewis as Carter
Sharon Farrell as Doris
Michael Bowen as Larry
Dick Rude as Stockboy
News that a mysterious comet will be passing near Earth is all the incentive Californians need to throw massive block parties. Everyone who's anyone will be celebrating as this is shaping up to be the event of 1984. Sisters Regina and Samantha have to get around a few obstacles if they are going to party, namely their wicked step-mother at home and Reggie's boss at the movie theatre. Unfortunately, neither girl gets to see the comet (they both fall asleep!), but the next morning things are kinda strange - the city has been abandoned and there's a weird red tint to the sky. Regina leaves the empty movie theatre and is attacked by a street creep that she narrowly escapes. Racing home she finds her sister safe, sound and clueless that anything is amiss. Together, the sisters figure out that something apocalyptic has happened and they may be the last people alive. The local radio station is still broadcasting and may hold some answers, so the girls have a destination.
Tricked by automated technology, our heroes find the station almost empty, except for Hector, a truck driver in search of information and family. Reggie and Sam agree to stick around until he can return and decide the obvious place to go in case of emergency is the local mall. Heavy shopping and goofy montage shenanignas are interrupted when the ladies realize they are not alone in the department store. Fun times are met with action, suspense and a third act twist involving a group of scientists. All in all the sisters are in for an adventure they will never forget--the future of civilization depends on them.
Night of the Comet is a product of its era and is an awesome time capsule of mid-'80s cinema. Inspired as a hybrid of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend and the quirky Valley Girl, the film is highly entertaining with great performances from leads Catherine Mary Stewart (The Last Starfighter) and Kelli Maroney (Chopping Mall) as sisters Regina and Samantha respectively. The two share fine comic timing and appear to be having fun throughout the picture. Geoffrey Lewis (Salem's Lot) and Mary Woronov (Death Race 2000) bring a needed hint of menace as the lead scientists who have a sinister solution to what is going on post-comet. Robert Beltran (Eating Raoul) brings a nice balance to the mix as Hector, possibly the last man on Earth.
Writer/director Thom Eberhardt (Sole Survivor, Without a Clue) keeps things moving at a decent pace and perfectly balances humor and horror, mixing elements of classic teen rebellion with monsters. The script never takes itself too seriously and does not fall into the trap of becoming mean-spirited. Instead, it allows the main characters to maintain an innocence despite their surroundings, thus keeping them likeable. Over the past 30 years, Night of the Comet has established quite a fan following and this new deluxe special edition is about to right a lot of the wrongs of earlier home video releases. If you have not seen the film before, gather your friends and prepare for some fun times.
Video and Audio:
The film is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, a first for domestic releases and while not picture perfect, the transfer is surprisingly strong and this is the best the movie has looked in years. Colors are well saturated and black levels are solid. Some exterior sequences are a bit soft due to the ever-present red filters, but this comes with the original source material.
The default DTS-HD MA 5.1 track offers a fairly impressive though front-heavy presentation. Directional effects succeed in the form of apocalyptic winds and also during gun fights. The original mono mix is represented in a solid DTS-HD MA 2.0 track. Dialogue remains clear and free of distortion and bass levels are surprisingly deep. English subtitles are provided.
The gang at Scream Factory knows how to treat a cult classic, as Night of the Comet receives an unprecedented three commentary tracks.
First up is a light-hearted conversation between friends and co-stars Stewart and Mulroney. The two clearly get along and have nothing but fond memories of their time working on the picture. The discussion wanders a bit (but never drags) due to a weak moderator, but this is most likely the track audiences will want to check out.
The second track features writer/ director Thom Eberhardt with Red Shirt guru Michael Felscher, and while Eberhardt is proud of his work, he also seems genuinely pleased that people still care about the movie three decades later. He eagerly talks about the writing and casting process and shares plenty of fun behind-the-scenes stories. Oddly, he begins the track by declaring the street creatures are not zombies, but then refers to them exclusively as zombies for 90 minutes. Honored that anyone would ask for the information, Eberhardt is determined to give as much as he can in the running time provided.
The third track finds Felscher expertly guiding what is the most interesting commentary, with production designer John Muto (River's Edge, Home Alone). What may seem like an odd choice at first glance is actually the highlight of the special features, since Muto offers the best info and shares tales from other productions he has worked during his impressive career.
Valley Girls at the End of the World (15 minutes) reunites actresses Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney for additional thoughts on the film, though some material repeats from their commentary. The two ladies still look fantastic and are some of Comet's biggest fans.
Last Man on Earth? (13 minutes) is a fun interview with actor Robert Beltran, who shares his memories of how he got the job as Hector and what he brought to the role. Beltran is instantly likeable in this piece and shares some fun stories from the set.
Curse of the Comet (7 minutes) takes a look at the work of make-up artist David Miller, who designed the assorted street denizens.
Production stills and behind-the-scenes photographs are offered in a pair of photo galleries that include a look at how some of the visual effects were achieved.
The original trailer rounds things out nicely.
A DVD copy of the film is also included.