Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cataclysm (1979)

...aka: Nightmare Never Ends, The

...aka: Satan's Supper

Directed by:
Phillip Marshak
Tom McGowan
Gregg C. Tallas

CATACLYSM is the 92-minute, uncut version of a film also known as THE NIGHTMARE NEVER ENDS and SATAN'S SUPPER. It's also available at a reduced length (with silly new fx inserts) in an unbelievable horror anthology called NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR (1985). So, like it or not, if you're a horror fan you're likely to see this eventually in one form or another. The completely untalented Faith Clift (who had a bit part in HORROR EXPRESS and is an awful actress) stars as Claire Hansen, a female doctor who is plagued by nightmarish visions of Satan. Her husband James ("Charles"/Richard Moll before his stint as "Bull" on the popular 80s sitcom Night Court) is the Nobel-prize winning author of the sacrilegious nonfiction bestseller "God Is Dead." Claire discovers that Olivier (Robert Bristol, who gives the standout performance here); a wealthy, ageless, charismatic former ex-Nazi war criminal is actually Satan! Satan enjoys various social functions (including disco dancing!), has hooves when you see his feet and plots world conquest. Veteran character actors Marc Lawrence (as an aged Jewish Nazi hunter) and Cameron Mitchell (as the detective investigating the obligatory series of murders) are both after him. Although this one suffers from the usual low-budget restraints and laughable elements (some terrible acting, stiff dialogue), it's watchable thanks to some interesting and intriguing ideas in Oscar-winner Philip Yordan's screenplay, plus a couple of genuinely creepy moments.

All three of the directors had interesting careers. Director Marshak (along with his brother Darryl, who produced this) had just made the porno vampire movie DRACULA SUCKS, which was released in both R and X-rated versions. McGowan had worked with Russ Meyer (CHERRY, HARRY & RAQUEL) and Tallas had been editing and directing low-budget features since the 1940s.


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