Night of the Comet (1984)

PG-13 | 90 mins | Science fiction | 16 November 1984

Director:

Thom Eberhardt

Writer:

Thom Eberhardt

Cinematographer:

Arthur Albert

Editor:

Fred Stafford

Production Designer:

John Muto

Production Company:

Atlantic 9000
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HISTORY

The film opens with a voice-over narration spoken by actor Michael Hanks, explaining the comet’s appearance near Earth.
       A 6 Dec 1984 Hollywood Drama-Logue article reported that the original title of the film was Teenage Comet Zombies. Writer-director Thom Eberhardt noted that his inspiration for the story were “B” movies from his childhood, such as Five (1951), Invaders from Mars (1953), Target Earth (1954), and The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (1959, see entries), in which characters attempt to survive apocalyptic events. He also admired female characters of the 1930s and 1940s, in films such as My Man Godfrey (1936, see entry), and based the teenage sisters, “Regina” and “Samantha,” on these feisty role models.
       Eberhardt recalled that executives at Atlantic Releasing, an independent production-distribution company, almost withdrew from financing the project after screening Eberhardt’s poorly received feature debut Sole Survivor (1984, see entry), which was shot in 1982. Eberhardt was able to persuade Atlantic to give him another chance and the company assigned Andrew Lane and Wayne Crawford to produce. The duo had recently overseen Valley Girl (1983, see entry), a “surprise hit” for Atlantic, as described in a 1984 Screen International article. Although Lane and Crawford did not receive a writing credit on Night of the Comet, they mentioned being actively involving in revamping the script with Eberhardt. They described the budget as “way under $3 million,” while Eberhardt stated in the Hollywood Drama-Logue article that production costs were “under a million.”
       According to a ... More Less

The film opens with a voice-over narration spoken by actor Michael Hanks, explaining the comet’s appearance near Earth.
       A 6 Dec 1984 Hollywood Drama-Logue article reported that the original title of the film was Teenage Comet Zombies. Writer-director Thom Eberhardt noted that his inspiration for the story were “B” movies from his childhood, such as Five (1951), Invaders from Mars (1953), Target Earth (1954), and The World, the Flesh, and the Devil (1959, see entries), in which characters attempt to survive apocalyptic events. He also admired female characters of the 1930s and 1940s, in films such as My Man Godfrey (1936, see entry), and based the teenage sisters, “Regina” and “Samantha,” on these feisty role models.
       Eberhardt recalled that executives at Atlantic Releasing, an independent production-distribution company, almost withdrew from financing the project after screening Eberhardt’s poorly received feature debut Sole Survivor (1984, see entry), which was shot in 1982. Eberhardt was able to persuade Atlantic to give him another chance and the company assigned Andrew Lane and Wayne Crawford to produce. The duo had recently overseen Valley Girl (1983, see entry), a “surprise hit” for Atlantic, as described in a 1984 Screen International article. Although Lane and Crawford did not receive a writing credit on Night of the Comet, they mentioned being actively involving in revamping the script with Eberhardt. They described the budget as “way under $3 million,” while Eberhardt stated in the Hollywood Drama-Logue article that production costs were “under a million.”
       According to a 31 Oct 1983 DV item, principal photography was scheduled to begin in Jan 1984. Filming took place in and around Los Angeles, CA. Eberhardt explained that there was no “trick photography” involved in creating an uninhabited Los Angeles. After studying traffic patterns and noting the surprising amount of “deserted bursts” throughout the city, he directed the cast and crew to work quickly within these silent breaks to capture the impression of emptiness.
       Atlantic invested $3 million to market Night of the Comet, which would represent the company’s first nationwide release, according to a 21 Nov 1984 HR article. When the film opened on 16 Nov 1984 in 1,098 theaters, it proved to be another hit for Atlantic. The picture took in over $3.5 million during the opening weekend, and Screen International called it “this year’s pre-Christmas sleeper” with box-office earnings of $8 million after ten days in release.
       End credits include the following statement: “Filmed at Raleigh Studios, Hollywood, California”; and the following acknowledgments: “Special thanks to: Carol Geissinger, manager - Bullocks/Wilshire department store; Larry Edmunds Book Shop; Chuck Comisky and Ken Jones; Dreamquest; Dave Hogan; Health Valley Natural Foods, Montebello, California; Tenneco West; Western Bagel Baking Corp.; Dean Foods; Thunderbird Marketing Corp.; Trader Joe’s Markets; Pervo Paint Co.; Hickory’s Best.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 Oct 1983.
---
Hollywood Drama-Logue
6 Dec 1984
p. 1, 16.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 1984
p. 3, 18.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Nov 1984.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Nov 1984
Section H, p. 4.
New York Times
16 Nov 1984
p. 8.
Variety
10 Oct 1984
p. 13.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Atlantic Releasing Corporation Presents
A Thomas Coleman and Michael Rosenblatt Presentation
In Association With Film Development Fund
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy grip
2d unit cam
Still photog
Arriflex cam supplied by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Art asst
Art asst
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Asst set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Scenic artist/Spec props
Const supv
Const coord
Lead carpenter
COSTUMES
Key costumer
Ward mistress
Ward asst
Dresses by
Dresses by
Dresses by Casadei and TD4 by
Addl sportswear courtesy of
Addl sportswear courtesy of
Addl sportswear courtesy of
MUSIC
Mus supv
All songs prod by
All songs prod by
Songs rec at
Songs rec at
Songs rec at
Mixed by
Mixed by
Mixed by
Mixed by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Visual eff des
Visual eff
Plate photog
Time lapse photog
Slit scan/Motion control
Slit scan/Motion control
Slit scan/Motion control
Slit scan/Motion control
Title opticals
Title opticals
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup eff des
Contact lens specialist
Contact lens specialist
Contact lens specialist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Unit mgr
Scr supv
Asst to the prod mgr
Prod coord
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod accountant
New York prod coord
Extras casting
Craft services
Promotions
Video game consultant
Loc by
ATARI® TEMPEST® coin video game courtesy of
Radio jingles by
Vehicles by
STAND INS
SOURCES
SONGS
“Whole World Is Celebratin’,” written by Chris Farren & Wayne Crawford, performed by Chris Farren
“Time Out,” written and produced by Chris Farren
“I’ll Take The Blame,” written and performed by Thom Pace
+
SONGS
“Whole World Is Celebratin’,” written by Chris Farren & Wayne Crawford, performed by Chris Farren
“Time Out,” written and produced by Chris Farren
“I’ll Take The Blame,” written and performed by Thom Pace
“It Came Upon A Midnight Clear,” performed by Jerry Sharell
“Let My Fingers Do The Talking,” written by Kenny Lee Lewis & Diane Steinberg, performed by Stallion
“Strong Heart,” written by Skip Adams & Mark Bensi, performed by John Townsend
“Jingle Bells,” performed by Jerry Sharell
“Unbelievable,” written by Gary Mallaber, John Massaro, Byron Allred, performed by Revolver
“Trouble,” written and performed by Skip Adams
“Lady In Love,” written by Bob Summers, performed by Revolver
“Living On The Edge,” written by Jocko Marcellino & Randy Handley, performed by Jocko Marcellino
“Virgin In Love,” written by Thom Pace & Maria Hegsted, performed by Thom Pace
“Hard Act To Follow,” written by Michael Hanna, Diana DeWitt, James Pritchett, performed by Diana DeWitt
“Learn To Love Again,” written by Chris Farren, performed by Chris Farren & Amy Holland
“Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” written by Robert Hazard, performed by Tami Holbrook
“Eyes On You,” written by Bob Summers, performed by Jocko Marcellino
“Tell Me Yourself,” written by Gary Mallaber, John Massaro, Byron Allred, performed by Revolver
“Never Give Up,” written by Jay White, performed by Bobby Caldwell
“Makin’ Me Blue,” written by Bob Summers, performed by Jim Christopher
“King County Woman,” written by Thom Pace & Dave Hegsted, performed by Doug Kershaw.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Teenage Comet Zombies
Release Date:
16 November 1984
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 16 November 1984
Production Date:
began January 1984
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
90
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27376
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Days before Christmas, Earth is expected to orbit through the tail of a large comet, whose last appearance was sixty-five million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared. The event inspires celebrations everywhere as crowds gather at “comet parties” to watch the phenomenon. In Los Angeles, California, teenage sisters Regina and Samantha Belmont are preoccupied with other matters. At the El Rey movie theater where she works, Regina obsessively plays a video game in the lobby and is curious about the identity of a player with the initials “DMK,” who has bettered one of her scores. After the theater closes, she spends the night in the projection booth with her boyfriend, Larry. Meanwhile, Regina’s younger, cheerleading sister Samantha gets into a fight with their stepmother, Doris, and escapes to the family’s lawn storage shed for the evening. Unknowingly, both girls are secure behind steel walls when the powerful rays from the comet kill most of the Earth’s population. In the morning, Regina resumes playing the video game to oust “DMK” from the standings, while Larry leaves on an errand. When she steps outside, Regina notices everything appears the same, except there are no people around and the sky has a reddish hue. Regina sees clothes strewn along the sidewalk, and in the alley behind the theater, she encounters a flesh-eating zombie that has already killed Larry. Escaping on a motorcycle, she rides through the deserted streets to her family home. Reuniting with Samantha, she demonstrates to her oblivious sister that everyone has disintegrated into red dust, with only clothing left behind. Samantha and Regina notice that a ... +


Days before Christmas, Earth is expected to orbit through the tail of a large comet, whose last appearance was sixty-five million years ago when the dinosaurs disappeared. The event inspires celebrations everywhere as crowds gather at “comet parties” to watch the phenomenon. In Los Angeles, California, teenage sisters Regina and Samantha Belmont are preoccupied with other matters. At the El Rey movie theater where she works, Regina obsessively plays a video game in the lobby and is curious about the identity of a player with the initials “DMK,” who has bettered one of her scores. After the theater closes, she spends the night in the projection booth with her boyfriend, Larry. Meanwhile, Regina’s younger, cheerleading sister Samantha gets into a fight with their stepmother, Doris, and escapes to the family’s lawn storage shed for the evening. Unknowingly, both girls are secure behind steel walls when the powerful rays from the comet kill most of the Earth’s population. In the morning, Regina resumes playing the video game to oust “DMK” from the standings, while Larry leaves on an errand. When she steps outside, Regina notices everything appears the same, except there are no people around and the sky has a reddish hue. Regina sees clothes strewn along the sidewalk, and in the alley behind the theater, she encounters a flesh-eating zombie that has already killed Larry. Escaping on a motorcycle, she rides through the deserted streets to her family home. Reuniting with Samantha, she demonstrates to her oblivious sister that everyone has disintegrated into red dust, with only clothing left behind. Samantha and Regina notice that a radio channel is still broadcasting and they hurry to the station in downtown Los Angeles, hoping to make contact with other survivors. However, they discover that the voice and music are pre-recorded. At the station, they meet another survivor, a truck driver named Hector, who slept overnight in the cab of his tractor-trailer, protected by the steel chassis. Meanwhile, a group of scientists in an underground desert facility telephone Samantha at the station when they hear her on the radio. They warn her that the zombies represent people partially exposed to the comet’s rays and are roaming the streets looking for living creatures to eat. After the three survivors spend the night at the station, Hector leaves the following morning to check on his family in San Diego, California, but arranges to meet Samantha and Regina back at the station. In the meantime, the sisters practice shooting a machine gun they obtained from a nearby army base where their soldier father often took them as children. Samantha teases her sister for flirting with Hector, and stealing perhaps the only surviving male left, but she is also sad that she may never have a boyfriend in this post-apocalyptic world. Meanwhile, the scientists bring two young surviving children, Brian and Sarah, to their desert facility for blood tests, but one scientist named Audrey does not approve. At a department store, Samantha and Regina enjoy a break from worrying about the future and go on a shopping spree. They are captured by a group of zombie stock boys, but a team from the science facility arrives in time to rescue them. Regina is taken by helicopter to the facility to ensure that her blood is healthy, but the scientists observe that Samantha has a rash, indicating her blood may be contaminated. They do not want to waste time taking her back to the facility and allow her to remain behind in Los Angeles, under the pretense that she should wait for Hector. Audrey and her colleague, Oscar, offer to stay with Samantha, who explains that she often breaks out in a rash when she is nervous. Audrey tricks Oscar and gives Samantha a sedative instead of following orders to kill her, then shoots Oscar dead. Unable to find any surviving family members, Hector arrives back at the radio station, dressed as Santa Claus and carrying Christmas presents. He is greeted by Audrey, who explains that her fellow scientists protected themselves in an underground facility, but were accidentally exposed to a small amount of comet contamination through the ventilation system and now need healthy human blood to create a serum for their own survival. Without it, they will transition into zombies within forty-eight hours. Audrey no longer wants to participate in the scheme and commits suicide. Meanwhile, at the desert facility, Regina has become suspicious of the scientists and their purpose. She escapes her captors and stumbles upon brain dead victims whose healthy blood is being drained to help the infected scientists. After rendezvousing in Los Angeles, Samantha and Hector drive to the desert and infiltrate the facility. They arrive in time to help Regina rescue the two young children, Brian and Sarah, before they become the next victims. Sometime later, back in Los Angeles, a rainstorm rinses the red dust from the streets and sidewalks. Samantha observes that Regina, Hector, and the two children resemble a makeshift family and she feels like an outsider. Regina reminds her that the “burden of civilization” has fallen on them. Suddenly, another teenage survivor named Danny speeds by in a sports car with a license plate reading “DMK,” and offers Samantha a ride. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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