(US - 1988)
Written and directed by Paul Mayersberg. Cast: David Birney, Sarah Douglas, Alexis Kanner, Andra Millian, Starr Andreeff, Charles Hayward, Jonathan Emerson, Susie Lindeman, Russell Wiggins, Larry Hankin. (PG-13, 83 mins)
As an acclaimed screenwriter working in conjunction with an experienced, visionary director, Paul Mayersberg has been a key figure in at least two legitimate classics and several other fascinating works. A frequent collaborator with Nicolas Roeg, Mayersberg scripted the director's 1976 masterpiece THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH as well as his eccentric 1983 curio EUREKA. He also worked with Roeg in 1979 in the early stages of an abandoned adaptation of J.G. Ballard's novel High Rise, which ended up getting made decades later by Ben Wheatley in 2016. He also co-wrote the 1983 WWII drama MERRY CHRISTMAS MR LAWRENCE with director Nagisa Oshima, and enjoyed a short-lived renaissance when he wrote GET CARTER director Mike Hodges' 2000 comeback CROUPIER, which became a word-of-mouth hit on the arthouse circuit and made a star of Clive Owen. But in the three instances he's been left to his own devices to direct his scripts himself, without a Roeg, an Oshima, or a Hodges at the helm, Mayersberg simply implodes. He made his directing debut with 1986's obscure, Patty Hearst-inspired straight-to-video UK kidnapping thriller CAPTIVE, which starred Oliver Reed but is only remembered today because its score was composed by U2 guitarist The Edge, with vocals by a then-unknown Sinead O'Connor (the soundtrack was released as an Edge solo album). In 1988, Mayersberg wrote and directed NIGHTFALL, a bizarre adaptation of a highly-regarded 1941 Isaac Asimov short story, for Roger Corman's late '80s company Concorde.
web site. It's not particularly faithful to Asimov's story, which involved a planet existing in eternal daylight thanks to it being surrounded by six suns, but that got whittled down to just three suns by the time Mayersberg got the green light. In one of those vague settings that may be the future or the past, guru-like astronomer Aton (David Birney, sporting what looks like a discarded Ritchie Blackmore wig) is the science-minded leader of the populace of a planet that's never experienced the darkness of night but is about to thanks to an event that, until then, has only occurred every 2500 years. His followers are looking for guidance into this heretofore unknown phenomenon, but a distracted Aton has been bewitched by the alluring Ana (Andra Millian) and is blowing off his work for some constant afternoon delight. This opens the door for an insurrection led by blind prophet and fearmongering doomsayer Sor (Alexis Kanner), who claims "The Book of Illuminations" has foretold that Nightfall means the end of the world. Sor has brainwashed his acolytes and also seduced Aton's estranged wife Roa (Sarah Douglas), eventually strapping her in some bizarre contraption where birds peck out her eyes in a rather blatant bit of "blind leading the blind" symbolism.
|NIGHTFALL opening in Toledo, OH on 5/27/1988.