Tuesday, 26 July 2011



Here's a strange one: a mixture of New Age Hippiness and impending apocalypse, with a second-tier cast, a synth score and directed by Nic Roeg's one-time screenwriter Paul Mayersberg - set on a planet with three suns and shot in 1988 at an alternative architectural project in Arizona. And based on an Isaac Asimov story. It apparently played one week at most on its US theatrical release and plopped straight out on video cassette in this country - it's had no DVD release - to a deafening silence: the VHS tape I have is the only time I've ever heard of it. It's scoring an average of 2.8/10 on the IMDb and the best review the IMDb readership can provide only graces it with four stars out of ten.

The Nightfall is the imminent setting of all three suns on a planet which normally enjoys perpetual daylight. It has happened before - eight times, according to the blind priest Sor (Alexis Kanner, overacting), but this Ninth Nightfall will be the darkest yet. While Sor wants to recruit everyone to his church (in which novitiates volunteer to be blinded by having crows peck their eyes out), most of the people look to their leader Aton (David Birney), for guidance. But Aton is besotted with a nomadic snake princess who takes her clothes off a lot, and has little interest in the nonsensical prophecies of the manipulative and cunning Sor. Can Aton be forced to accept his responsibilities?

It's tosh - can a planet be orbited by three suns? - but it's undeniably very pretty to look at. That's because it was shot at the Arcosanti Project in the Arizona desert: an architectural experiment "demonstrating ways to improve urban conditions and lessen our destructive impact on the earth", according to their website, and as a location it gives the film a look at odds with its low budget (it's from the Corman stable). But much of the plot is dreary daytime soap-opera love triangle hogwash when there's a far more interesting faith vs reason angle that's largely skipped over. In addition, there's a lot of voiceover at the start of the film which gives the impression that it's been massively re-edited. Maybe the later adaptation that came along in 2000 (and features David Carradine) would be an improvement. But this is still of only marginal interest for its look and setting.


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