Night Of The Comet (1984) is one of the quintessential cult classic films of the eighties and it’s a Christmas movie to boot. Everything that people love about the Netflix show Stranger Things is on display in Night Of The Comet from the soundtrack and supernatural alien forces that create zombies to awesome action set pieces in malls and secret underground government bases. Night Of The Comet is one of the outstanding adventure films about a trio of teenagers battling the end of the world.
One of the most influential aspects of Night Of The Comet is that two of its leads are women (Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney). When push comes to shove these high school girls transform themselves from horny beauty queens with big hair into butt-kicking badasses with big hair. The dialogue is snappy, funny, and full of the kind of tough guy posturing one expects from a Stallone picture and it’s coming from the mouths of our heroines.
One of the survivors of the strange apocalypse is Hector Gomez (Robert Beltran) who joins the Belmont sisters (Stewart and Maroney) on their adventure. He’s a nice guy and Beltran brings a quirky amount of physical comedy to the role that is completely disarming. His frequent costume changes are hilarious and plays to the madcap, devil may care attitude of the film in general.
Writer and director Thom Eberhardt throws every imaginable B-Movie genre into the mix concocting a confection like few others. Night Of The Comet isn’t one type of movie for long, changing gears every few scenes. This melee of styles actually works for the film, becoming an exaggerated representation of the teenaged protagonists’ experience. No matter how bizarre the plot becomes the three central leads are consistent. The actors are always given the time and space by the filmmaker to grow the connections between these characters.
In a fashion similar to that of Joe Dante and Allan Arkush, Eberhardt imbues every frame of Night Of The Comet with a genuine love for B-Movies (Mary Woronov even appears briefly). One of the leads (Catherine Mary Stewart’s character Regina) works at a repertory movie house where she accidentally spends the night in the projection booth with her boyfriend, thus avoiding the calamity caused by the comet. There are nods to H.G. Welles, George Romero, and a slew of other iconic films and figures of the genre picture.
This fantasy of teenaged angst withstanding doomsday may be an unlikely candidate for a holiday movie, but it does hit all of the “feel good” beats genuinely. So in addition to taking place during the holiday season Night Of The Comet successfully evokes the wonder, joy, and camaraderie one might just associate with Christmas. Perhaps I am being too subjective in my assessment, but I sincerely feel that, along with Gremlins (1984), Night Of The Comet is one of the Christmas movies for cinephiles.