The Disco Era — in film terms, roughly between “Jaws” and “Blue Velvet” — seemed pretty limp during its unfolding, but Shout! Factory's recent Blu-ray/DVD releases show it in a far more positive light. In addition to relatively well-known items — like “Halloween,” “Lifeforce” and “The Howling” — we now have “Night of the Comet,” the feature debut of director Thom Eberhardt. It didn't go unnoticed in 1984; reviews were good, and money was made. But it hasn't generated the level of fan enthusiasm it deserves.
This was two years after Moon Zappa's hit “Valley Girl” and a year after the release of Martha Coolidge's like-named feature. “Night of the Comet” could have been called “Valley Girls Save the World (Though Not Very Promisingly).” A comet turns almost everyone on Earth to dust, except a few who slowly turn into zombies and a very few who happened to be in all-steel enclosures for the duration. Two of the latter are sisters Reggie (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Sam (Kelli Maroney), who dash around Los Angeles fending off the walking dead. They team up with Hector (Robert Beltran of “Eating Raoul”) to figure out...well, something. Their goal, beyond survival, is never really clear, which is just fine.
The new Blu-ray/DVD combo displays the movie's charm. Most of it was apparent at the time, but the passage of nearly three decades has created a second layer of hindsight humor: How could they stand pre-digital Polaroid cameras? And people really wore those hairstyles? How was there even a world before the Internet? The disc's image is just OK, which was true theatrically as well.
The extras are adequate, though far from the best to emerge from Shout! Factory. Three shorts present brief interviews with Beltran, Stewart and Maroney, and David B. Miller, who created the makeup effects. In addition there are three commentary tracks — one with Maroney and Stewart, one with Eberhardt, and one with production designer John Muto. Not surprisingly, the director's track is the most interesting.
"Night of the Comet" (Shout! Factory, Blu-ray/DVD combo, $29.93)
ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on "FilmWeek" on KPCC-FM (89.3).