NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984)

(VOD) A surprisingly rich character-based post-apocalyptic film. Reg, our hero, has her own agency, she stands toe-to-toe against all of the dumb dudebros that she has to endure while still standing by her younger sister, but more importantly, she feels like a unique character — she’s not a prototypical horror archetype. Also, Catherine Mary Stewart plays her perfectly — disaffected and confident. Did I mention that the film opens with her being very focused on her TEMPEST arcade cabinet high-score?

That aside, I will always love this film because of one very particular (non-spoiler) cineaste riff: Reg survives because she’s in a projection booth that was re-enforced due to the explosive nature of nitrate film.*

You could remake this film word-for-word, shot-for-shot today, and it’d still be considered progressive and interesting. But what often gets lost is the fact that the film is surprisingly gorgeous, with some amazing costume and color work. I’m not sure if they were bestowed with a fantastic budget (nope, they shot all of the ‘abandoned streets’ bits at 5am), a brilliant cinematographer and/or production designer, the film stock, the ND filters they were using or whatnot, but everything pops in this film.

  • Fun fact: there are only three theaters in the US that can screen nitrate films because of the risks involved. I was lucky enough to attend a nitrate screening of Hitchcock’s first go at THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH at the Egyptian in LA in 2017, which had recently been reinforced for nitrate screenings, and wow, that was a treat.