Ok, so this movie wasn't what I was expecting. As in, at all. The movie poster featured above tries very hard to make this film seem like one of the earlier, and better, zombie-apocalypse films that have come before it. What I didn't expect was for it to be an extremely 80s movie, with big hair, bright colored outfits on valley girls, and the girl that was in The Last Starfighter (which opened the same year).
Basically, the same comet that probably killed the dinosaurs is headed back near earth, and of course, it has captivated the imaginations of everyone in L.A. That's the only way to explain how there are so few survivors. Oh, yeah, by the way, the comet turns everyone into Ovaltine. Or, some sort of red dust. Except for Regina and her sister Sam, two typical southern California teenagers, obsessed with arcade games and cheerleading, respectively. Sam likes to wear magenta and turquoise, and Regina sleeps with the projector-jockey at the movie theater and is angered by "DMK" getting 6th place on her favorite arcade game. (It's one of those "hey, it's not technically important now, nor will it ever be, but we'll call back to it once before the movie ends" kind of deals.) They're such well-rounded and crisply developed characters! I'm so glad that they'll comprise roughly one quarter of all the characters in the film!
This is the problem that I've always had with movies from the 80s: music from the '80s is absolutely awful. Not all music, mind you, but more specifically, the 1980s idea of what good movie soundtrack music should be. Costs of synthesizers and electronic drum-machines must have been at an all-time low in that decade, because there's no other reason they would be so universally prevalent. Also, and I'm not even kidding, there is a mall montage to Cyndi Lauper. Because that's what we all want to do when the world ends and all of our loved ones and friends get turned into a delicious chocolate powder: Shopping spree!
There is most likely some sort of commentary hidden in that particular crap-fest. The first place that the girls go is the local radio station, where they're met by Hector, who appears sporadically through the rest of the film. They encounter maybe two comet-zombies by this point, and the first one kills Regina's boyfriend (played by Michael Bowen, who would later play "Buck" in Kill Bill Vol. 1 and molest a coma-stricken Uma Thurman). Where was I? Oh, yeah. The mall as a place of refuge during apocalypse was done much better in Dawn of the Dead, where it actually has some meaning behind it. In this film, they prance around for a little while, and they're then briefly attacked by the former stockboys, who have taken over the mall in some militant "white panthers" gang, although they've conceivably run into no other survivors up until this point. They're not very important, anyway, but I wanted to note that their "leader," a strange little man in a smoking jacket that he was somehow able to embroider his name upon, makes dumb comments like a TV show announcer, and it's extremely annoying. Man, that guy sucks.
There are also some scientists after them, briefly introduced in the beginning, seeming to know that the comet will powderize everyone (actually, now that I think of it, it's kind of like "dehydrating" the U.N. or whatever in the Adam West Batman movie). They come out when they hear the survivors on the radio, and apparently think that they can harvest the blood of survivors to make some strange serum to cure themselves. For you see, they weren't completely protected from the comet's effects: it managed to sneak into the air vents and infect them slowly. Apparently, that's what the zombies are all about: they're being "Ovaltined" more slowly, which, of course, entails a "bloodthirsty zombie" phase. So these dumb scientists are slowly turning into zombies/powder, and because Regina was asleep in a movie theater projection booth (apparently encased completely in lead, making it safer than a fershlugginer bomb shelter), they really want her blood for their serum. Makes sense, right? Of course, the whole time, there are synthesizers screeching away in the background.
In the end, they're able to somehow defeat the crazy scientists (though they would have eventually turned into Nestlé's Quik anyway), and then immediately become "mature," with Regina and Hector adopting two survivor children rescued from the scientist-place, even though everyone on Earth is still totally dead. Sam, the rebellious cheerleader who at first might have been vaguely infected, but then apparently got better, was all "Like, yuck, guys, what with the grown-up clothes and responsibility and blah blah blah *gum chewing*" And then, some hitherto-unknown and utterly random survivor shows up in a super-sweet '80s convertible. It's DMK! Holy crap, they call back to something from the first five minutes of the film in the last five seconds of the film. Truly, Thom Eberhardt is a cinematic treasure and a gift to all directors. Luckily, he brought similar genius to that all-time classic Captain Ron. Yeah, seriously.
It's definitely worth the watch, especially if you like that sort of thing. I recommend it, but not too highly. On a scale of "I loathed it" to "I loved it," I'll have to give it an "I saw it" rating.