FREAKSHOW Night Of The Comet

Join us every Monday as we look at a cult movie. Our film of the week this time follows two teenage girls in a post-apocalyptic LA

1984
Director: Thom Eberhardt
Cast: Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Robert Beltran
Available on region one and region two DVD
Watch the trailer here. Bitchin’, isn’t it?

Interviewed a few years ago, Joss Whedon said that this loveable little movie was an influence on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and you can see why.

Like Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce and Doctor Who’s “Attack Of The Cybermen”,  it taps into the 1984 zeitgeist’s obsession with Halley’s Comet, then returning after its latest 75-year round trip. When the Earth passes through the tail of a rogue comet, everyone out in the open is turned into piles of red dust, while those exposed later start turning into zombie-like mutants. Amongst LA’s handful of survivors are two teenage girls – 18 year-old Reggie and her sis, 16-year-old cheerleader Samantha – and a Hispanic guy (Star Trek: Voyager’s Robert Beltran, no doubt gritting his teeth and wishing he was on-stage performing Uncle Vanya).

The set-up isn’t remotely original, but there’s a quirky, low-key charm about the way things play out. The girls don’t react to the end of the world with horror, but with the amusement of kids who now have the whole world as their playground. When the inevitable “mall shopping spree” sequence comes, it’s soundtracked by Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, and although events briefly do take a darker turn, for the most part fun is the order of the day.

It couldn’t be more ‘80s. In the first five minutes alone you can tick off legwarmers, deelyboppers and BMX bikes, and the end titles include credits for “Neon” and “Videogames consultant”. It makes Ashes To Ashes look positively subdued.

But what really makes Night Of The Comet such a joy isn’t the nostalgia rush it provides, but the two central characters. These girls just get on with it, dealing with the apocalypse with resourcefulness, crackerjack wit, and machine guns. It’s girl power at its best.

Ian Berriman, reviews editor of SFX and cult movie nut, has watched Rat Pfink A Boo Boo four or five times, but never seen On The Waterfront. The nutter.

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