Director: Thom E. Eberhardt
Cast: Robert Beltran, Catherine Mary Stewart, Kelli Maroney, Sharon Farrell, Mary Woronov
Length: 95 min
Disks: 2 (1 BD, 1 DVD)
Label: Shout! Factory
Release Date: 19 November 2013
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Thom Eberhardt
- Audio Commentary with Stars Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart
- Audio Commentary with Production Designer John Muto
- Valley Girls At The End Of The World – Interviews with Stars Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart
- The Last Man On Earth? – An Interview with Actor Robert Beltran
- Curse of the Comet – An Interview with Special Make-Up Effects Creator David B. Miller
- Still Galleries (Behind the Scenes and Official Stills)
- Theatrical Trailer
Due to it’s allegorical nature and the patterns of audiences, it’s fun to see how the Science Fiction genre has adapted over the years to become indicative of every decade it inhabits. While ‘50s and ‘60s science fiction held stories of invaders, paranoia and experiments gone wrong, the ‘70s and ‘80s were much more about the absence of life and the mystery of the future. However, it’s a rare film such as Night of the Comet, now on Blu-ray from SHOUT! Factory, that is able to incorporate those elements and criticism of government and society while also being humorous, fun and reflective of ‘80s youth.
Night of the Comet is a fun romp about an extraterrestrial event that virtually causes an apocalypse, and the hormone-heavy young adults who find themselves surviving amid the fall out. It’s Mad Max for the mall crowd, throwing in mindless zombies, sadistic scientists and an all-encompassing sickness into our heroes’ path. But more so, the film is about finding your place in the world, and those who had previously been alienated now are free to live without criticism and judgement. Night of the Comet shows that even in the most dire of circumstances, we can still balance our need to consume and be superficial with our need to survive and serve our basic human conscience.
Directed by Thom Eberhardt, Night of the Comet feels lean and mean, while also never tonally improper. There’s always a sense of subversive levity that pours out of each frame, allowing the film to live beyond the bleak expectations that the story would normally follow. Arthur Albert’s cinematography is shockingly excellent for a film of this kind, letting the saturated, neon-soaked and giallo-esque color scheme come to life in the flamboyant aesthetics of ‘80s popular culture. And the score from David Campbell is absolutely appropriate to the decade and serves often as a nostalgic push into the artificial voyeurism that the film somewhat requires.
The cast of Night of the Comet is crucial to the film’s playability, as the story provides characters that are not only interesting and fun but also complicated and harboring legitimate doubts and fears under their make-up and feathered hair. Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney are phenomenal in their roles as the protagonistic sisters of the piece, each evoking the right amount of sympathy while smirking their way through the post-apocalypse. Robert Beltran is also surprisingly emotional, and gives a supporting turn that almost steals the film. And you can’t forget about genre staples Geoffrey Lewis and Mary Woronov, both of whom hit their roles with a precise understanding of the film’s tone and give out fun performances that are simultaneously weighty in nature.
Despite the film’s naturally soft cinematography, thanks largely to many of the optical illusions and tinting to make the film look post-apocalyptic, SHOUT! does a formidable job of transferring the picture to high definition. Close-ups are incredibly well defined, even past the thick grain of the film itself, and there is almost no damage to the film print itself nor evidence of digital alteration.
It’s almost repetitive to write this column time and time again, as SHOUT! always provides a top notch audio remastering. The film’s surround-sound mix is pitch perfect and clear, and the sound mix is leveled to make sure the important elements are given due credit and focus. No hint of hiss and the dialogue is clean and crisp.
SHOUT! hits the mark with their features for this package, including three excellent commentary tracks that each appeal to different film fans. Casual moviegoers will love the Commentary with Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart, as the two have good rapport while providing awesome anecdotes about the film. Loyal fans of the film will appreciate the Commentary with Thomas Eberhardt, which includes more information and a healthy balance between layman-friendly stories and cinephile-friendly minutiae. And fans of filmmaking itself will be enamored by the Commentary with Production Designer John Muto, who offers an excellent inside track on shoestring budget filmmaking in the ‘80s while diving into the nitty gritty of how the film technically was composed.
Other than that, SHOUT! presents two Photo Galleries, a Theatrical Trailer and Three Featurettes, each of which feature interviews. One featurette has Maroney and Stewart recounting the film specifically and how they boarded the project. The second featurette has Beltran recounting his journey from the world of independent genre filmmaking to arriving on Night of the Comet. The last featurette is the least essential and is a short look at the make-up supervisor, David Miller.
In summary, SHOUT! once again proves that they’re second to none with re-releasees of fan favorite genre properties. Night of the Comet is a memorable and fun take on a usually depressing subject and is worth the price for the film alone. The impressive audio and video transfer and the great variety of features only make the set a better buy and likely the most definitive version of the film to date.