Nightfall (1988)

  • Year: 1988
  • Released: 15 Apr 1988
  • Country: United States
  • Adwords: 1 nomination
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English
  • MPA Rating: PG-13
  • Genre: Mystery, Sci-Fi
  • Runtime: 83 min
  • Writer: Isaac Asimov, Paul Mayersberg
  • Director: Paul Mayersberg
  • Cast: David Birney, Sarah Douglas, Alexis Kanner
  • Keywords: loss of eyesight, eye gouging, based on short story, cult leader, religious cult, blindness,
12% – Critics
false% – Audience

Nightfall Storyline

Far across the cosmos from our world lies a planet bathed in perpetual daylight. Soon nightfall will come and bring with it tremendous destruction. Science struggles against superstition in this dramatic portrayal of Isaac Asimov’s award winning short story.—Concorde – New Horizons (with permission).

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Nightfall Movie Reviews

A surefire cure for insomnia.

The award-winning Isaac Asimov story is very poorly adapted into this perpetually uninteresting, plodding production. A planet somewhat like our own has been bathed in sunlight (after all, it has three suns), and now it has been foreseen that the sunlight will disappear, and darkness will reign. The residents, some of whom are terrified by this concept, divide into two factions, enacting the ages-old debate of science vs. Superstition.

This viewer is not surprised to hear that this is NOT particularly faithful to the story (as it is, Asimov disowned it). It’s such a deadly dull affair with nothing to really hook a viewer. Being that it was produced by B movie outfit Concorde, it’s low-budget through and through. It’s very inscrutable, and, although it creates some mildly watchable visuals, it features a largely nondescript cast that is hardly convincing. Star attraction David Birney (‘Someone’s Watching Me!’) gives a performance that is as boring and colorless as the film itself. The appealing Sarah Douglas of “Superman: The Movie” and “Superman II” is on hand, but she’s not given anything truly interesting to do.

“Nightfall” was badly scripted by director Paul Mayersberg, who’d fared a lot better a dozen years previous writing the screenplay for “The Man Who Fell to Earth”; this at least features a decent music score by Frank Serafine, but that is not nearly enough to redeem this forgettable movie.

Three out of 10.

Bad, but twice as good as the 2000 remake

I recently bought the DVD of the Nightfall TV movie from 2000, and regretted it as soon as I saw it. That anyone could possibly do something so low-budget and stupid to an Asimov story is just beyond me. I rated it a 2 out of 10.

Now, at that time, I hadn’t seen the 1988 movie. But I just now borrowed the video tape from a friend, and had a watch. To some extent, it looks like the same people who did the 2000 movie did this one. But, there are differences. The 2000 movie is a complete loss; there isn’t any acting or proper coherence to the story, and of course very little that actually reminds of the original Asimov story.

The 1988 movie is quite a bit better. The actors are much, much better. The production values are better; the overall style of clothes, hair, etc. are much more consistent. And the dialog is better. The story, while ripping the original short story into tatters, at least does make a slight bit of sense in a couple of ways. The whole sex dimension with Ana was not in the original story, but I actually thought it worked all right here. If you accept that they changed the story and had a different vision for the project, I think this was, well, not as bad as it could have been. I don’t think it deserves an avalanche of 1 ratings.

One thing that is really annoying, though, is the way it ends. This movie just ends with the stars coming out and everybody sitting around saying, “oh, that’s nice!” In the original story, much of the plot only takes place after the stars have come out and made everybody crazy – that’s the whole point of the story! That people find out that the universe is infinitely bigger than they thought before, and this makes them crazy and leads to the destruction of civilization. Most of that entire dimension was just cut away here. Sigh.

As an Asimov story, it is a lost cause. Still, seen as an independent story in and of itself, I do think it was half-way entertaining and had a few nice instances of both plot and acting.

So, my rating is a 4 out of 10 for this one.

Too Boring For Me

This movie is apparently meant to make a statement on the difference between sacred and secular knowledge; and the value of science, to both. Written in a time when religion was still held in some kind of regard by the entertainment industry, there seem to be arguments made on behalf of both the religious and non-religious communities. Fast-forwarding to the end, showed some kind of destruction; no doubt brought on by the refusal of each side to cooperate with the other. It looked dramatic and in some way compelling; but was too boring for me.