Night Of The Comet did okay at the box office but real­ly earned its audi­ence via repeat view­ings by fans on VHS and cable tele­vi­sion.  Thus, it’s a sur­prise how long it took for this film to get the spe­cial edi­tion treat­ment: it didn’t make it to DVD until 2007 and even then it was released as an extras-free cat­a­log title.  Thankfully, Scream Factory has added this fan favorite to its ever-grow­ing ros­ter of cult titles.  The results offer a step up in many ways, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the spe­cial fea­tures depart­ment.

The high-def­i­n­i­tion trans­fer includ­ed here looks good, doing well by a title that is tricky to present due to its chal­leng­ing com­bi­na­tion of low-light inte­ri­ors and heavy use of red fil­ters for exte­ri­or sce­nes.  The results have a nice cel­lu­loid tex­ture, offer­ing a boost in detail and col­ors (par­tic­u­lar­ly the sce­nes with neon light­ing).  Both 5.1 and 2.0 loss­less stereo mix­es are offered: the 2.0 mix is the rec­om­mend­ed one here as the 5.1 mix is curi­ous­ly light on sur­round sound activ­i­ty and the 2.0 has a lit­tle more vol­ume and punch.

The extras begin with no less than three (!) com­men­tary tracks.  The first fea­tures stars Catherine Mary Stewart and Kelli Maroney along with mod­er­a­tor Edwin Samuelson.  It offers an actor-lev­el view of the film, with both stars talk­ing about doing their own stunts, their appre­ci­a­tion for direc­tor Thom Eberhardt and fond mem­o­ries of Robert Beltran and Mary Woronov.

NOTC-bluSamuelson primes the duo with ques­tions and his approach pans out nice­ly in the sec­ond half when the stars offer their thoughts on how impor­tant one big emo­tion­al scene in the film was for its teen view­ers, their take on the ‘80s mate­ri­al­ism sat­i­rized in the film and redis­cov­er­ing the film through the eyes of its fans.  The stars have a nice chem­istry and a good atti­tude, mak­ing this an easy lis­ten.

The next com­men­tary fea­tures writer/director Thom Eberhardt and mod­er­a­tor Michael Felsher.  Eberhardt is both infor­ma­tive and self-dep­re­cat­ing as he lays out the sto­ry of how his first-ever screen­play was pur­chased and how he end­ed up direct­ing it.  His tale reveals the real­i­ty of being a first-time film­mak­er, par­tic­u­lar­ly how pro­duc­ers Andrew Lane and Wayne Crawford held sway over major deci­sions like cast­ing and the fate of one char­ac­ter in the film.

He also tells a lot of fun tales about film­mak­ing on a shoe­string, includ­ing how he got his “desert­ed city” sce­nes in busy Los Angeles and how one of the film’s most famous lines was writ­ten on the spot to cov­er for mal­func­tion­ing prop guns.  In short, it’s a track that will please the film’s long­time fans.

The final com­men­tary track fea­tures pro­duc­tion design­er John Muto and is again mod­er­at­ed by Felsher.  It’s a very engag­ing and infor­ma­tive track because Muto has a strong mem­o­ry of the pro­duc­tion isn’t afraid to share his opin­ions.  Felsher gives him plen­ty of room to talk but guides the track with enough ques­tions to form a nar­ra­tive, cov­er­ing every­thing from his start in the busi­ness as a visu­al effects design­er to why he lat­er tran­si­tioned to teach­ing.

The result has a lot of inter­est­ing nuts-and-bolts mate­ri­al about how he designed Night Of The Comet’s look, with full info on how each set was cre­at­ed or dressed: the sto­ry of how the film’s elab­o­rate, styl­ized “radio sta­tion” set was achieved is fas­ci­nat­ing stuff.  He also cov­ers how he made cre­ative col­or choic­es, right down to the out­fits the actors wore.  Since Muto did dou­ble-duty as a visu­al effects super­vi­sor on the film, he’s also able to describe how the film cre­at­ed an array of cool visu­al effects using sim­ple, cost-effec­tive meth­ods (wait ’til you hear all the tricks used in cre­at­ing the think-tank’s lair in the film).  In short, it’s a great lis­ten for bud­ding gen­re film­mak­ers.

The com­men­taries are bol­stered by a trio of fea­turettes.  The first is “Valley Girls At The End Of The World” and it was assem­bled from new inter­views with Stewart and Maroney.  In fif­teen min­utes, they walk the view­er through how they were cast, the chal­lenges of the script, their thoughts on the fin­ished work and its cult fol­low­ing.  The same basic mate­ri­al is cov­ered in their com­men­tary track but get­ting to see their enthu­si­asm gives their tales a lit­tle extra sparkle.

The sec­ond fea­turet­te is an inter­view with Robert Beltran enti­tled “The Last Man On Earth.”  Fans might be sur­prised to dis­cov­er that he turned down the role sev­er­al times before being allowed to offer his input on the char­ac­ter at a script lev­el to keep it from being too close to his char­ac­ter in Eating Raoul.  A lot of the piece is ded­i­cat­ed to the changes he imple­ment­ed and how he had to be vig­i­lant with the pro­duc­ers to make them hap­pen but he also speaks with pride about the results and also says kind things about Eberhardt, Stewart and Maroney.  He even requests that Eberhardt make a sequel!

The final fea­turet­te is “Curse Of The Comet,” a brief chat with make­up FX super­vi­sor David B. Miller.  It was his first gig in this capac­i­ty and he reveals how his work on the make­up crew for Thriller led to him work­ing on Night Of The Comet as well as the par­tic­u­lars behind the dif­fer­ent make­ups and his work­ing rela­tion­ship with Eberhardt.  Like every­one else inter­viewed, he’s proud of the film and its endur­ing pop­u­lar­i­ty.

The disc is round­ed out with two image gal­leries and a the­atri­cal trail­er.  The first gallery offers a vari­ety of stills and some pro­mo art while the sec­ond, more inter­est­ing gallery is a behind-the-sce­nes col­lec­tion that shows many shots of Eberhardt direct­ing on set, some images of the­aters where the film played and even a few storyboard/production design sketch­es.  The trail­er is brief but fun, doing a good job of sell­ing the film’s savvy blend of sci-fi and com­e­dy.

All in all, this is a wor­thy spe­cial edi­tion for a cult film that has long been in need of this treat­ment.  Any fans need to pick it up post-haste and those who haven’t seen it will find this set a good way to expe­ri­ence it for the first time.