If you are going to tackle an adaptation of a story by science fiction god Isaac Asimov, you'd better have an adequate budget, and if not that, at least a director who has a lot of talent and ingenuity to make you accept it all. Nightfall has neither. You could take whatever money you have in your pocket, gather all of your friends, drive out to the desert and make a movie with more entertainment value than what is on display here.
The helpful voiceover dialogue informs us that we are on a distant planet that is in perpetual light due to the fact there are three suns. It's a good thing they told us, otherwise we might've thought we were watching some Z-grade biblical epic. All we see is a small, threadbare town in the desert where the locals wear robes and sandals and wander around the minimalist sets. Anyway, there's this prophecy that predicts that all of the suns will set and the planet will plunge into darkness. This is a problem because everyone believes that once this happens their world will be destroyed.
The conflict arises between David Birney, in one of filmdom's very worst wigs, as the intellectual leader, and the blind prophet played by Alexis Kanner, who believes everyone is doomed. Don't hate yourself for forgetting that Kanner's character is supposed to be blind because, based on this performance, he keeps forgetting himself. There's also this boring love triangle between Birney, his friend, Charles Hayward and Starr Andreef. You see, the bulk of the movie is devoted to the fact that the town citizens think Andreef will destroy Birney, so they abduct her, put her on a donkey and send her out into the desert and then Birney sends Hayward to find her and then he does and then they do it and then they come back and then their affair is discovered by Birney and then Birney and Hayward have one of the slowest, most awkward swordfights ever.
I guess there is supposed to be some suspense in Nightfall about what will happen when the darkness comes, but for me, it couldn't come fast enough. As Birney awaits the darkness, Kanner and his cultists are trying to find a way to hide everyone in an underground shelter in order to survive. In order for Kanner to get people on his side he invites them to join him in his blindness; one woman does and we get a lovely scene where she has her eyes pecked out by falcons. Of course, afterwards, she claims to "see" ever more clearly. So, how does it all end? Finally, the suns disappear and nightfall comes and the believers in science get to see the stars. Oh, and then it snows right before the hasty credits roll.
Writer-director Paul Mayersberg should've held off of the production of Nightfall until he had a workable budget, because this is the very definition of a shoestring. It's true that the story and themes of Nightfall didn't necessarily require some grandiose, studio budget, but at the very least they could've made it look professional. It looks and feels like a particularly weak home video project. At no point are we convinced that this material is taking place anywhere other than the Arizona desert, where it was filmed. The bad wigs, cheap costumes, and negligible sets are made even worse by dreadful performances by every single actor and the thin and poorly-written screenplay.
Nightfall does achieve the feat of making other cheeseball 80s sci-fi fantasy romps like Yor, the Hunter From the Future, The Sword and the Sorcerer and The Beastmaster look like absolute classics. At least it was good for something.