With the world reeling toward Armageddon, a doomsday movie needs some kind of edge; that's what's wrong with "Night of the Comet," a cheaply made science-fiction movie that enters the atmosphere without ever igniting.
There's this comet, see, that loops by the Earth every 65 million years; last time around, it extinguished the dinosaurs. Now it's our turn. The comet carries a virus that instantly freeze-dries people to piles of red dust -- death by Folger's Choice. But anyone who is in a steel-encased room when the comet passes is immune -- so Regina (Catherine Mary Stewart), a movie usher who booked a double feature with her boyfriend in the fireproof projection room, survives, as does her sister Samantha (Kelli Maroney), who slept in the lawn-shed after a brawl with their stepmother.
Deserted L.A. becomes a paradise for these Valley Girls, who can pillage the best couturiers of Beverly Hills. They're set upon by some of the other survivors (a small dose of the virus, it seems, turns people into haggard, murderous zombies with opaque eyes) but they know how to handle themselves (Daddy was a Green Beret). The movie proceeds like a big-screen version of "Charlie's Angels," with the girls unconvincingly dispatching the baddies with karate and submachine guns, attended by a Bosleyish eunuch ("Eating Raoul' "s Robert Beltran).
Director Thom Eberhardt comes out of TV ("Afterschool Specials"), and the action sequences are TV-flat. Eberhardt lacked either the know-how or the budget to give "Night of the Comet" the kind of special effects it needs -- it would have been nice, for example, to see the comet. It also would have been nice to see some acting. Maroney and Stewart, a Brooke Shields clone who has never looked lovelier, play off each other with the disconnected, pithed-brain style of the soap operas they've graduated from ("Ryan's Hope" and "Days of Our Lives," respectively). Worse, neither the talented Beltran nor Mary Woronov (another "Eating Raoul" alum) is given anything to do.
At the beginning of "Night of the Comet," usher Regina complains to the theater manager, "Did you ever get hit by Dots? Milk Duds? Those things hurt." Fire when ready.
"Night of the Comet," at area theaters, is rated PG-13. It contains violence and mild sexual themes.