By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
The point of a blurb is to sell the sizzle, to get the consumer to buy a ticket or a disc or to tune in next week, so I can only assume the marketing department was under orders to dumb it down as much as possible and play up the female leads as helpless airheads facing a zombie apocalypse.
But it's almost irritating how much is wrong in that blurb.
The characters show absolutely no interest whatsoever in the latest fashion trends, hence Maroney wearing a fetching coral-and-aquamarine cheerleader uniform for much of the film, a color scheme that production designer John Muto admits bears no relation to any school or fashion. They don't witness the comet because Stewart's character is indoors getting laid by the actor who would go on to play Uncle Jack in Breaking Bad (a fact mentioned in all three commentary tracks, which were recorded during the final season of that show), while Maroney is trying avoid their evil, abusive stepmother (Sharon Farrell).
The shopping excursion doesn't occur until two-thirds into the film, on the evening of the second day after the titular night; up until then, they've mostly been dealing with issues related to the extinction of the human race. Since they're experienced with MAC-10 machine guns, they more than hold their own in a gunfight against said zombies in the store—who, again, aren't really zombies by modern standards, since they think and talk and use technology including but not limited to the security system at the Bullocks Wilshire in Los Angeles. (One of those zombies is punk legend Dick Rude, a fact that will hopefully be included in the next edition of Zack Carlson and Bryan Connolly's great reference book Destroy All Movies!!!: The Complete Guide to Punks on Film.) Valley Girls or not, these gals aren't helpless fleers, nor were they were intended to be; in her commentary, Stewart says that one of the things that appealed to her about Eberhardt's script was that the character was written as a strong, independent young woman who could look after herself, and Stewart identified with the "tomboy element."
And that ultimately accounts for the movie's enduring popularity. Beyond its value as an '80s time capsule (and the neon-drenched radio station is worthy of its own essay), Night of the Comet is not about airheaded girls running from zombies, nor about badass chicks with guns mowing those zombies down. It's somewhere in between, and if the movie is kind of a tonal mess, that's also part of its charm. Night of the Comet has something for everyone.
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