A minor cult hit in November of 1984, Night of the Comet
combines a comic zombie apocalypse with the California teenspeak of the previous year’s Valley Girl
. The behaviour in that film had far more depth and credibility, but Night of the Comet
relies less on the cluelessness of its characters. In fact, this film’s protagonists (sisters Regina and Samantha) are both relatively intelligent, using valley-isms sparingly, for knowing comic effect. When most of the world’s population is destroyed by a comet, these sisters struggle with zombies, anxiety, and a maddening shortage of datable men. With surprising wit and imagination, writer-director Thom Eberhardt successfully achieves a challenging balancing act, juggling the horrors of doomsday with the carefree charm of his characters.
Six years after MGM’s bare bones DVD, Night of the Comet finally gets the special edition treatment in a new DVD/Blu-ray combo pack from Shout! Factory. This release includes the film’s theatrical trailer, two photo galleries, three audio commentaries, and three featurettes. The shortest of these is Curse of the Comet, a six-minute interview with David B. Miller, who talks about his work on the film’s zombie makeup and Night of the Comet’s importance in a career that has also included frequent work on the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. Illustrating the film’s modest scale, Miller explains that he did most of the makeup work himself, while working out of his garage.
In the 15-minute Valley Girls at the End of the World, the film’s female stars (Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart) discuss their familial experiences on the film. (They also share the mic for one of the disc’s commentaries.) Both come from a background in soap operas, which helped them develop the sisterly bond they needed to display onscreen. Used to the rapid-fire simplicity of soap opera production, they were ecstatic just to get a second take on Night of the Comet. They also reveal the film’s low budget trick for making Los Angeles appear empty - shooting during off hours, including Christmas Day - and the crucial influence of Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey.
In the 12-minute The Last Man on Earth?, the film’s male lead Robert Beltran expresses enthusiasm - and disappointment. Best known for playing the title character in Eating Raoul (he recruited co-star Mary Woronov for a role in Night of the Comet), Beltran sounds like an exceedingly difficult, argumentative collaborator. While he ultimately praises the film, nearly all of his positive memories are tempered by complaints about the production. He seems to believe that this comic horror film should have been a serious drama, a misunderstanding that came to a head when he was forced to wear a Santa Claus costume in one of his most important scenes. In spite of this, Beltran (unrealistically) hopes to one day reunite with Eberhardt for a Night of the Comet sequel.