Night of the Comet (1984)

This hybrid of science-fiction, horror and comedy is the kind of mid-budget genre entry that use to happily litter video store shelves in the ’80s and ’90s, and like a lot of its brethren, it’s an undemanding, entertaining diversion for a solid 90ish minutes. Catherine Mary Stuart (of 1980’s infamous “The Apple,” directed by Cannon’s Menahem Golan) and Kelli Maroney are memorable as teenage sisters who survive the passing of a comet that turns most of the population into zombies, and their decision to take refuge in a mall is both a clever send-up of adolescent consumerism and tribe mentality, not to mention a cute wink-and-nod to George A. Romero’s zombie classic “Dawn of the Dead.” The downtown Los Angeles location shooting gives the movie a distinctive visual look that’s augmented by reddish filters that bring out the natural beauty of the California landscape, and the movie is also blessed with a totally bitchin’ ’80s pop-rock soundtrack filled with dated-but-catchy tunes that give the movie an effective atmosphere that’s caught somewhere between its then-modern touch and its now-retro, time-capsule-like vibe. Fans of genre directors like Fred Dekker and Kevin S. Tenney will probably get a kick out of this one.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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