Things I Like: Night of the Comet

I haven’t watched Night of the Comet in ages. It was, for a while, one of two movies I brought to every sleepover and church youth-group-lock-in. (The other was Nightmare on Elm Street III: Dream Warriors.) I recently re-watched it, thanks to NetFlix Watch Instantly, and tried to remember why.

On this adult viewing, it’s pretty clear what I liked. The main characters are a group of women who express agency throughout the film, who are flawed and petty but smart and full of initiative. The women in this movie all get to be people first, girls second. They express sexual agency, they are trained in self-defense, they know how to use automatic weapons, and they never give up.

They are, in short, kind of awesome.

This leads me to ponder the whole “Strong Female Character” conversation. While Reggie and Sam possess all of the qualities I list above, they are also very concerned with looks and fashion, very concerned with boyfriends, and they take time out in the middle of a zombie apocalypse to go shopping. Or, more accurately, shoplifting. They are selfish and self-centered, seemingly amoral at times. But when the world ends they stick together and fight for other survivors.

This is strength. This is one way that female characters can be strong. They can be flawed, imperfect, and stereotypically feminine, and they are still strong.

This is a really solid B-movie. The dialog limps, frequently. And the acting is, on occasion, stilted. But. But. But there are a couple of action sequences that are chilling, specifically in the department store and later in the government lab. It’s an effective film, despite some hokey jokes.

I can see, now, what grabbed me about Night of the Comet when I was a teenager. It’s Reg, with her self-knowledge and her certain strength. She’s a pretty great option as far as mid-80s teenage girl role models go.

3 Responses

  1. I have never seen this! (Room party vid show at WisCon?)

  2. I am sure that it comes as no surprise that I adore this movie. I even wrote an essay on it for a college course on apocalyptic fiction.

  3. Nice review. There’s a NIght of the Comet fan site at http://www.nightofthecomet.info for those who enjoy the film.

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