Night of the Comet seems closer to Escape from New York than Dawn of the Dead. It’s a fun, humoured, if somewhat throwaway 80s flick that still tackles serious themes and subjects.
It barely constitutes a horror film; most of the time, the zombies are human in form, or appear briefly in a dream sequence, or in one or two other scenes. The film isn’t a fight against zombies, it’s a factionalised fight within a humanless world – fights amongst each other. Honestly, a 15 rating seems too much. The focus is squarely on our protagonists. It’s refreshingly familial, and fairly feminist with its two female leads. It’s a very 80s film, but that’s no bad thing. It’s a coming of age story within a world where there is no-one else, with all the responsibility, individuality and freedom that entails.
An apocalyptic event isn’t presented through CGI, but as the entirety of society turned to dust – a much more terrifying thought than a plague of zombies. It becomes a little more ambiguous. Through the conceit of how our leads have survived, there’s a dichotomy between the interior and exterior world. It is the teenagers and the mallrats, existing within the interior world of television and radio, that have survived to build our new world – not the adults, who stand outside with overpriced boppers waiting for a comet show.
Arthur Albert provides some fantastic cinematography, creating a portrait of a humanless, orange tinted Los Angeles, that lives on through routines and mechanisation – sprinklers spraying the glass for no human to observe; televisions playing to no viewers, that reminds me somewhat of Koyaanisqatsi (1982).
I edited a remix of these sequences on my Vimeo: