Written by / 7/23/2013 / 1 Comment / , , , , ,

THREE ACTRESSES REFLECT NIGHT OF THE COMET

Catherine Mary Stewart
Kelli Maroney
“At the time that we were shooting it and when it was released, I didn’t really think a lot about its popularity or longevity. I knew it was a quirky little film," Catherine Mary Stewart wrote in a Cult Film Freak Interview. "Even the producers weren’t sure exactly what to do with it. Thom Eberhardt, the writer/director, had always intended it to be tongue in cheek – a kind of salute to the old-fashioned horror genre with a twist of wry humor... The producers looked at it in terms of being a serious horror film, perhaps knowing that there was a more solid market for that sort of thing... Fortunately, it ended up the way Thom had envisioned, which of course makes it stand out and adds some sort of weird validity to it."

An Armed Regina
NIGHT OF THE COMET is a very unique zombie film, one that has gathered a dedicated cult following since its somewhat subtle release in 1984... 

Not relying on overblown blood and guts, it’s basically a character-study of two sisters, CATHERINE MARY STEWART as Regina and KELLI MARONEY as Samantha, waking up to discover a comet has destroyed the Earth's population... 


But before this catastrophe happens, Samantha has another battle: a slap-fight with evil step-mother Doris, played by horror film staple SHARON FARRELL...


Kelli with Sharon Farrell
KELLI MARONEY: "It was chaotic... Sharon and I kept doing it a few times, but those scenes are hard to make look real. Because I had already done this type of scene on Ryan’s Hope with my 'Mom' Louise Shaffer, I told her to just slug me a good one so we wouldn’t be there all night...

It actually hurts a lot more to fake it countless times than to just take a punch in film. I was choreographed to throw myself over the couch and tumble to the TV set. That was planned. Strange little cartoon moment that people really enjoy.”

And since bitchy stepmothers are people too, let’s get SHARON FARRELL’s perspective on the fight…

A Slapping Good Scene
SHARON FARRELL: "She said, ‘Just really slap me, and I’ll really slap you, and we’ll fake the sock.’ And she just flipped over the back of the couch, but the slaps were real. But the punch was not… I would have broken my hand. And we would have been hurting too much for that. But a slap… You can do a slap if you just do the palm of the hand and hit the cheek you can do it. It’s always better to fake it but… We were shooting so fast we just… Kelli just… She just took over then. She just said, ‘Hit me… Slap me… I’m gonna slap you, Sharon, and you slap me.’ And she was a good little actress… She was a wonderful little actress."

SHARON FARRELL is an important character: for not only does "Doris" die along with most of humanity as the comet flies over the earth, but her character’s the only human shown actually watching it... making her the symbol of the earth’s demise.

Last Shot of Humanity
SHARON: "The director threw a football across, and that was our Comet. He just took a football… I think it was… He took Chance’s [Sharon's son, Chance Boyer, who plays of the young survivors]… He wanted to be Terry Bradshaw during those days… And he wanted to carry a football. They have this little boy carrying a doll and he said, ‘I don’t want to carry a doll, I’ll carry a football.’ So the director took Chance’s football and he threw it across and that was our Comet... We all followed it with our eyes in horror."

And since both sisters (both having chosen to stay indoors rather than watching the comet) survived, they now must deal with zombies: the first involving Catherine Mary Stewart’s character “Regina,” who, outside the theater where she slept with her doomed boyfriend, deals with a zombie bum…

Catherine Mary Stewart
CATHERINE MARY STEWART: “That may be my favorite scene in the movie. I love all that rough and tumble stuff. There was no stunt double for me, except to actually ride away on the motorcycle. I don’t know how to ride those things. The zombie was a stunt guy, so I felt safe because I knew he knew what he was doing when he threw me. Then I got to crack him with a 2 X 4. Such FUN! Everything was fun for me in that scene.”

The world coming to an end, and all your friends and family and everything you know of are gone… can’t be easy for these characters, especially the sweet and vulnerable “Samantha,” who, while being told of this catastrophe by “Regina,” simply refuses to listen or believe it...

A Cereal Moment
KELLI: “That was our first day of shooting. My coach, Roy London, suggested that I play that I am talking non-stop and running around so that she will not be able to get a word in edgewise, and so can’t say the words out loud that everyone is gone. It’s a classic denial scene and that’s what powered me through it. When she says: ‘Where are the g-damned kids?’ I shut the door on her. Then I feign some more disbelief—because as long as I don’t believe it, it isn’t true, right?"

And “Regina,” being the bearer of bad news, has her take on the scene…

CATHERINE: “What is cool about scenes like that is that they are like a double-edged sword for my character and in that way it makes it more believable to the audience, because while I am trying to convince Sam, I’m also trying to convince myself. Maybe in some way Reggie is hoping Sam has an explanation and it gets more and more frustrating when her response doesn’t answer anything. I think Reggie is in denial in the beginning too. So the scene isn’t as simple as me trying to explain something to Sam, which makes it meatier to play.”

Sisters Till...
The End, Literally!
These two sisters are anything but prissy… With a mercenary father, they’re both tough cookies, wielding guns like commandos during a scene in which they do some target practice on an empty street…

KELLI: “It was fun. Everyone on the set loved it when we had gun-play! Plus we were all pretty tired and firing a round or two off lets off some steam, and Thom added, ‘Daddy would’ve gotten us Uzis’ at the last minute because the prop guns kept jamming... So, he said, if that happens in the next take, say… so, I did. Sometimes the best things come out of what’s actually happening on the set rather than a pre-planned ‘moment.’"

Then, after shooting the guns, they sit on a cop car and have a deep conversation about life and death…

CATHERINE: “Those are nice moments. It’s important to have lots of contrasts in a story. I think intimate, human moments like those in amongst the insanity of the story are important for the audience so that it keeps it on a level that they might be able to relate to as opposed to just slamming them with one improbable situation after another.”
Catherine Mary Stewart shops armed at the mall
So what are the sisters gonna do if they’re the last girls on earth? Well heck, there’s a mall right around the corner…

CATHERINE: "Another fun, crazy scene! We had the whole Sherman Oaks Galleria to ourselves, which was pretty bizarre in and of itself but it helped us with our characters. As I mentioned earlier, I love the rough and tumble stuff, so the firefight with the zombies was a gas. Things blowing up; squibs firing off everywhere; and ultimately the showdown with the zombies after we’ve been captured and tied up. So funny! Talk about running the gambit of emotions!"

These Girls Just Wanna Have...
KELLI: "That night we just went in and trashed everything. It was tremendously freeing for all of us. We just improvised things as we went along, like with the shoes and the TV. Thom wanted it to be kind of a homage to those gangster films of the ‘30s."

And not to forget another main character, STAR TREK VOYAGER and LONE WOLF McQUADE actor Robert Beltran as “Hector,” a truck driver survivor who helps the sisters throughout the film: the lucky dog eventually becomes Regina's love interest...

Robert Beltran
CATHERINE: "Robert Beltran is a pretty sexy guy. He was so charming and mellifluous, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. As Reggie, I had no trouble being attracted to him. I liked the scenes with him in the radio station because they were intimate and a little more adult. They had a different tone to them than in the rest of the movie. Reggie reveals a more vulnerable side, I think."

NIGHT OF THE COMET is, for the most part, a zombie film, but the main villains aren’t zombies but government researchers slowly dying from a radiation leak in their compound, and they want to kill, and then do tests on, the survivors: one in particular played by a recognized actor...

Geoffrey Lewis
CATHERINE: "I loved the scene where I’m being interviewed by Geoffrey Lewis’ character, Carter. I think Reggie is confused, defensive, scared and with the fact that she is a young woman, hopeful that this scientist is who he says he is and will take care of her.

She answers the questions as only a teenager would, perhaps not quite realizing the gravity of the situation in the beginning. I love Carter’s reactions to some of her responses... He’s trying so hard to stay focused and not only is he feeling the affects of the comet, but he had to deal with this nut."

So after our heroes battle, then defeat, both zombies and scientists alike, they are, along with two young children, the Earth’s new population: "Hector" and "Regina" are the new “Adam and Eve,” but “Samantha” needs her own man, and at the very end, she meets him...
Kelli Maroney getting what could be a fatal shot by Mary Woronov
KELLI: "Being that in the original first draft Sammie was supposed to die, this was added afterwards. In a comedy, at the end everyone has to be paired off—you couldn’t have just left Sam by herself, because that’s not a happy ending. I don’t know how many people realize that DMK is the person who kept beating Regina in the video game at the beginning in the movie theater. So, Thom rapped up the whole story by doing it that way. Ingenious, huh?"
“I’m so proud to be a part of this film simply for the same reason I was attracted to the script in the first place. It was a story about two young women, who find themselves in a dire situation and have to muster everything they have to survive, and they do! They do it themselves. I think it’s a very strong message to send to young women everywhere and I hear from women who were influenced in a very positive way by that message. I love that.” CATHERINE MARY STEWART
Out of Print DVD Autographed by Catherine and Kelli and eventually Sharon
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1 comment:

  1. great article!! Both Catherine and Kelli have official facebook pages and are very involved with them! Check them out www.facebook.com/catherinemarystewart & www.facebook.com/kellimaroney Plus Catherine now has an official website www.catherinemarystewart.com

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