Raise your hand if you are personally familiar with how much the first half of the 1980s sucked. If you’re not raising your hand, watch this film. Oh, and by the way, I rated Night of the Comet as Yellow Puss.
I’m not sure if this film was supposed to be a serious Z-horror flick in its day or if the producers were taking a bit of a jab at the period — commercial music, warmed-over 1970s fashion, big bad hair, excess consumerism and narcissism, and … like … valley girls! Still, ya gotta love the superficial cult-film line of “Daddy would have gotten us Uzis!” and seeing Robert Beltran cut his teeth before he was the respectable Chakotay on Star Trek’s Voyager.
A comet from deep space passes through Earth’s atmosphere while everyone — not just Eddie Murphy — wanted Michael Jackson’s red leather jacket. Bright red dust from the comet pollutes the atmosphere, vaporizing people who were directly exposed while turning those with little exposure into cognizant talking mutants (er, I mean, zombies), and probably inspiring the survivors to start neon fashion that came soon after.
Refreshingly, this film is devoid of nudity &/or depicting sex; in place of that the under-age sister character is viewed twice in undergarments, which when you think about it feels pervy. Still, the romantic relationship in Hard Rock Zombies is more disturbing.
This Z-film falls under the it’s-so-bad-it’s-good classification, and I suspect could be great if it got the Dawn Of The Dead remake treatment, but in present form doesn’t particularly hold my attention. While watching this flick I tend to wonder “If this was shot in LA, how did the production get empty streets? And if most of the population died instantly due to a passing destructive comet, it sure was nice of everyone to park their cars first … except for that one jerk with the Mercedes. Maybe this didn’t take place in LA but in Canada where everyone parks their cars before a comet causes an apocalypse.”
So there you go — Night of the Comet — put that in your coffee and drink it.
Zombie High – Yellow Puss – also known as The School That Ate My Brain
No, this is not a flick about junkies turning into zombies (not that with some of them you could tell the difference), this is about kids at a prestigious boarding-school in the 80s.
One-by-one their instructors steal their sleeping students away at night to steal parts of their brains for their own sinister reasons, and then to make up for the loss they’re implanted with a chip. The next morning the students wake up as mindless well disciplined — and well dressed — learning machines starting the first day of their very successful and yuppie lives.
Surprisingly I have not seen gratuitous breasts yet — hey, it is an 80s horror film — but I have seen a number of little known actors in their early days who later went on to be ever so slightly better than little known actors. Watching this I’m half tempted to honor this flick by pulling out those 2 Shaw Safari shirts hanging in the back of my closet that have been waiting to come out for the right retro party. Frankly, maybe something that would have turned us more mindless like this back in the 80s would have been better, helping us to chill out instead of wearing all that obnoxious crap we used to wear and listen to that music, 1/2 of which was worse than our hair-doos.
If you’re a zombie fan, watch this film; if you’re a retro fan, watch this film; if you don’t have anything better to do, find something other than this film. Oddly, there’s another high-school flick where the students are being turned into some sort of learning zombies which is what I thought I started …. this is not the zombie film I was looking for, but they were the droids I was looking for.
The first time I heard Tom Petty – and I mean REALLY heard Tom Petty – was at a ski condo where I spent many winter weekends during high school. If you consider a lot of his songs being in high school could not have been a more fitting time.
My family had a time-share with another family on an area condo. Every other weekend we would pack up the van and trek to Snoqualmie Pass. As I passed from Freshmen through my Senior years I had to spend less time skiing and snowboarding and more time studying, all while looking out the condo windows at the frozen hill I’d rather be sliding down.
One night during the winter of ‘89/90 some folks down the hall at the condo building had a party. They put on Full Moon Fever (1989) and blared it. The album was crisp and clear, you couldn’t miss it from anything else going on in the building. The distinct sound of Tom Petty’s voice, the memorable tracks from this solo album … The folks down the hall played this album all night. It was the only album they played … all night. Everyone else in the building, myself included, were trying to sleep, and apparently no one had the nerve to go down the hall to bang on the damn door and demand they shut it off! My suspicion remains that the folks started playing a CD* copy of the album on repeat, partied and then passed out.
(* Here’s where I show my age – people were just starting to get CD players then – and the copy of the album I heard couldn’t have been a tape cassette because there wasn’t a long enough pause anywhere for the tape to run out … which is kind of funny & coincidental when considering what the listener hears at the middle of the album.)
Yep, the first time I really heard Tom Petty I REALLY didn’t like his work – not because of anything having to do with his music but because of the lack of sleep I got that fateful night coupled with the inundation of the singular album.
Some years later (still in high school) I had gotten that sleepless condo night and that repeating album out of my system. On weekend evenings I caught a late at night music show on PBS – I have no idea what the show was. For weeks I tuned in because this show was cool and I didn’t have a social life then (either). I would watch whatever band was being featured and then the show would close out with playing a number from a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers concert.
Every week the concert would pick up where it left off, and over a number of weeks I caught most of the performance. Something about the music and the presence the musicians had caught me. To this day I don’t know what the specific concert was or much reference to make for the footage – and I would love to see it again. All I recall was that there was this HUGE tree prop behind the band on stage, and I think chandeliers hung from the branches. Their performance was engaging, electrifying, authentic, and the roots of rock’n’roll were palpable.
It was after that I started paying attention, learning about where Tom Petty came from, observing his accomplishments, hearing the arc of his music as he continued to mature …. and yet that authentic, palpable thing always remained.
I get the impression that some folks think that because I play bagpipes that I’m not a musician, that I don’t tie in with the rest of musicians the same. While I hold the opinion that there is a vibe every musician experiences that comes with their genre of instrument, there is a vibe that all musicians share. I didn’t start out as a bagpiper, I’m not now only a bagpiper, and with that I’ve always viewed myself as a musician first. When you appreciate the work of another musician both from an audience standpoint and from musician standpoint …. when someone who’s work was incredible and they move on … it hurts in two ways. You lose a star in the night who was a point of great creation, and you lose someone you understand because of the vibe you shared with them.
In some of the themes that Tom wrote and sang about – love, hate, and loss – my relationship with his work has been that. First I hated his work, then I came to love it. Lately we lost the man, and yet we can remain grateful for the gifts he gave through his art and dreams.