The future's bright; the future's orange... and filled with zombies!
Night of the Comet Blu-ray Review
Cheap and cheerful, this 80s sophomore effort from relatively inexperienced writer/director Thom Eberhardt proves really quite atmospheric and rightfully earns its status as a cult classic.If you're not put off within the first 15 minutes - which feels like one big ball of 80s cliché, rolled up and dished out with almost no sign of any purpose or direction - then you might actually start to warm to this silly and preposterous little post-apocalyptic sci-fi zombie flick.
When a comet strikes and wipes out almost everybody on the planet, the few remaining survivors trudge around a orange/red-filtered city landscape, banding together to find out what happened. Along the way, they find out that those that didn't get wiped out by the comet, turned into... zombies.Packed with terrible 80s hairdos and clunky dialogue, Night of the Comet subsists largely on a game cast and remarkably simple - but reasonably effective - story. Famous for being one of the very first films to use the then-new PG-13 rating, the gore factor is considerably restrained in this feature, which instead relies on a well-crafted mood and atmosphere.
There's actually a palpable mood to the piece, which dangerously - but largely harmlessly - disseminates cheesy comedy into the more serious dramatic flourishes. Sure, it's frivolous low-fi 80s nonsense, but the soundtrack alone - which is the stuff that modern filmmakers revel in for the likes of Drive and The Guest - gives this some worth.
Night of the Comet Blu-ray VideoNight of the Comet his UK shores courtesy of the dedicated cult movie enthusiasts Arrow, who provide a Region B-locked Blu-ray release which sports a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation – framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen – which is almost from the exact same remastered source that Shout! Factory’s Scream Factory used for their Blu-ray release last year (ditto can be said for the extras). This shouldn’t come as a concern, however, and the movie looks just about as good as you could possibly expect from a low budget 80s flick like this.
Despite the soft edge and distinctly un-demo-worthy qualities, this is likely the best shape that most fans will have ever seen this movie in.
Detail is generally very good, with excellent moments and surprisingly strong night sequences; sure the softness is apparent throughout, and the red/orange filter that the director overlays across the top half of the image doesn’t particularly help in this respect, but there’s still some nice close-ups which reveal a little skin detail, clothing weaves and background textures. The colour scheme – at least in the exteriors – is directly affected by that red/orange hue, which taints everything, and not necessarily in a bad way.
Sure, it leaves everything feeling quite alien, but surely that’s the point, and it leaves the film steeped in a suitably effective post-apocalyptic environment. With a strong layer of natural grain leading us to believe that little digital manipulation has been effected, and no overt print damage, this will certainly please most Night of the Comet fans, even if it will never be the stuff that you show off systems with.
Night of the Comet Blu-ray AudioOn the aural front we get a decent enough LPCM 2.0 track which makes the most of the audio elements on offer, taking the best from the material and promoting it as well as you might possibly expect. Again, given the limitations of such a low budget production, the results are pretty damn good – certainly not standout, but easily the best fans will have ever heard this movie sounding. Dialogue gets presented clearly and coherently largely from across the frontal array – indeed the majority of the track gets offered up front-and-centre. Effects are limited, as well, but the soundtrack – peppered with fun 80s tracks – gets the best treatment, dominating the proceedings when the right track is spun up. It's just a shame they didn't bother springing for the 5.1 track that came with the US release.
Night of the Comet Blu-ray ExtrasWhy have one commentary when you can have two? Hell, why have two, when you can have three?! Arrow delivers a trio of excellent audio commentaries - the first with the two lead actresses Kelli Maroney and Catherine Mary Stewart; the second with writer/director Thom Eberhardt; and the third with production designer John Muto. Each one is progressively more technical, with the first being easily the most fun, and the anecdotes across the tracks also provide some colourful background into the production, which was fraught with filmmaking politics and disputes amidst the crew members.
On the extras front Arrow have once again delivered and, though none of the supplements are exclusives, they make for a decent package.
There's also a quartet of Interview segments newly-recorded in the last 12 months. Valley Girls at the End of the World has Maroney and Stewart on hand to talk further about their involvement; The Last Man on Earth has Robert Beltran discussing his casting in the project; and End of the World Blues has actress Mary Woronov talking about her involvement and how much the cast evolved their own characters for the feature. The set is rounded off by Curse of the Comet, which looks at work of Makeup Supervisor David B. Miller.
The disc is rounded off by the Theatrical Trailer, and comes with the usual excellent Arrow Booklet.
Night of the Comet Blu-ray VerdictJust about as silly as you would expect a low budget 80s cult classic to be, Night of the Comet still sports a surprisingly decent atmosphere within which it delivers its cheesy post-apocalyptic antics. It's unlikely to entice many newcomers to explore what's on offer here, but fans of the film should certainly be pleased by Arrow's excellent package. If you don't already own the almost identical US release from last year then this is a must-have.
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