“Brennan Went to Film School” is a column that proves that horror has just as much to say about the world as your average Oscar nominee. Probably more, if we’re being honest.
WARNING: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR NIGHT OF THE COMET (1984). READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
The End is Nigh this month here at Dread, but it’s also the holiday season so I thought it would be a treat to revisit my favorite apocalyptic movie that just so happens to also take place on Christmas: Night of the Comet. Don’t believe me? Check out those department store displays:
In Night of the Comet, the world gathers to watch the passing of a comet that hasn’t been seen for 65 million years (since right before the extinction of the dinosaurs, in fact). Well, we sure do find out what happened to the dinosaurs because the comet turns most of the world’s population to dust and mutates the survivors into horrible zombies, except for those who just so happened to be spending the night in steel-lined shelters. Two of those survivors happen to be a pair of valley girl sisters: Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart) and Samantha (Kelli Maroney) Belmont, who use this opportunity to run through the miraculously traffic-free LA streets (by far the most fantastical element of the movie) and go on a shopping spree before being forced to battle the hordes of undead and a team of evil scientists who predicted this entire event.
They survive on their wits and their surprising facility with automatic weapons, but they are aided by cutie delivery driver Hector Gomez (Robert Beltran), who spent the night in the back of his truck. Their united skills and talents help everybody grow, develop as human beings, and most importantly – live to see another day. But this is a team-up that almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if not for the catastrophic event of the previous evening. How many privileged teenagers from the valley do you know who would willingly hang out with blue-collar workers?
Their relationship is mutually beneficial, but it’s something that would never have happened if the class structures that rule the world hadn’t been literally dissolved into dust. It’s a good thing the sisters were able to get over their own built-in prejudices, because their struggle is just a microcosm of what is presumably happening across the world. They are stragglers from a “higher class” that the world before deemed better or more important, but there aren’t many of them left. Anyone rich and powerful was presumably throwing a comet-viewing party for their fancy friends, while a great many members of the working class probably didn’t have a choice but to work the night shift indoors, giving them a much greater chance of survival.
The new L.A. the sisters find themselves in is one where money and class no longer exist, and opportunity finally extends a hand to everyone willing to help out, instead of just those deemed worthy of special treatment. It’s a world where economic disparity no longer exists, and where a beautiful relationship like the one between Regina and Hector can blossom.
Now obviously I’m not saying an apocalyptic event isnecessary for us to fix a broken class system or overcome prejudice, nor is Night of the Comet. But it is a deeply felt metaphor for the way prejudices and invisible structures like the ones that govern the class system in our society need to be shaken up and tossed aside for the betterment and survival of the human race. This is a message that only gets more and more powerful since its creation in the 80’s, and it’s just one of the reasons I revisit this stellar cult film masterpiece every opportunity I get.
Brennan Klein is a writer and podcaster who talks horror movies every chance he gets. And when you’re talking to him about something else, he’s probably thinking about horror movies. On his blog, Popcorn Culture, he is running through reviews of every slasher film of the 1980’s, and on his podcast, Scream 101, he and a non-horror nerd co-host tackle horror franchises from tip to tail! He also produces the LGBTQ horror podcast Attack of the Queerwolf! on the Blumhouse Podcast Network.