At 11:40 I had to turn off the 80’s horror classic that is NIGHT OF THE COMET, just after the sisters are separated by the scientists, because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. By midnight I was tucked up in bed and dreaming vivid dreams about being a teenager again. By 3:40 I was wide awake. I predict that today will be a sleepy one.
I haven’t seen Night of the Comet (NotC) since I was a little kid. My friend who lived a few houses away had older brothers. Being about 14 and 16 they thought a film about people being disintegrated or turned into violent zombies was an appropriate watch for a couple of ten year olds. Obviously it stuck with me. Re-watching it for the first time as an adult I found it quite interesting. I don’t know if I’d call it progressive but the protagonist is a sexually liberated lady who can look after herself. I don’t know if the screen combat choreography was poor or it was meant to look like she was using skills she learned at a self-defense night class to fend off zombies but I like it. It feels real-er than most zombie fights. I also like that it was set in a time that is less saturated in zombie culture. Don’t get me wrong, I can not get enough of zombie films, books, graphic novels, computer games, board games, even music about zombies. I am a glutton for zombie media. Hell, I even presented at a conference called Monstrous Geographies on why the empty spaces are what is the really scary thing about zombie films (I defy you to watch 28 days later and not feel your blood run cold at the prospect of an empty London). So in the unlikely event of the zombie apocalypse happening around me I feel like my reaction would be informed by all the films I’ve seen. I even have my own zombie apocalypse plan: kill myself before I drag down my group of survivors. So when the survivors in The Walking Dead stubbornly refuse to use the word “zombie” it irks me. No wonder they can just about survive in a world without mass media, clearly they have all been living under some sort of pop-culture rock to escape the term. The characters of NotC live in a world where The Zombie Survival Guide is yet to be written, but they still know what is trying to eat them. Intertextuality is a characteristic of zombie films that really tickles me. The perfect zombie film needs to somehow bleed into the real world and in the real world zombies are a feature of both legend and pop culture. One of my favorite modern zombie films is the remake of Dawn of the Dead. I love the scene where a little-girl-zombie takes out the protagonists partner. If you haven’t seen it take a moment, it’s probably not work safe, and the link isn’t quite as long as I would like it to be: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZydwxAAF1w4 . What I hadn’t realized until last night is that scene is a homage to a scene in NotC ! Needless to say there is no youtube clip of that scene kicking about, so you’ll have to watch the whole film to see it, but once you have seen it I think it will help you get a sense of depth from what might at first glans seem a rather shallow genre of film.
On that note, I think I’ll depart this train of thought for now, but I want to sign off with my favorite song about zombies. I wasn’t kidding when I said I loved zombie music.