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  Nightmare Never Ends, The The Persistence of Satan
Year: 1980
Director: Phillip Marshak, Tom McGowan, Gregg C. Tallas
Stars: Cameron Mitchell, Marc Lawrence, Faith Clift, Richard Moll, Maurice Grandmaison, Robert Bristol, Klint Stevenson, Elizabeth Martin, Christie Wagner, Robyn Russell, Georgia Geerling, T.J. Savage, Philip Yordan Jr, Norma Clift, Lou Edwards, Richard Bulik
Genre: Horror, Trash, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: James Hanson (Richard Moll) is a writer whose latest bold effort is an extensively researched tome called God is Dead in whose pages he sets out to prove not only is the Almighty no longer around, but He may not have ever existed in the first place. His wife is surgeon Claire Hanson (Faith Clift) who has been suffering colourful nightmares recently, so he thinks the best idea would be to take her on a trip to Las Vegas, where they end up at a nightclub watching various cabaret acts, including a mindreader. He picks her out in the audience and tells her in not so many words she has a problem he can pluck from her thoughts...

And that problem is one afflicting all too many people: she is being haunted by a Nazi war criminal who happens to be an incarnation of Satan, yeah, we've all been there so you might have hoped this film would offer an answer to that age old issue, but then you would be needlessly optimistic for The Nightmare Never Ends pretty much resolved nothing after an hour and a half of scenes best described as disjointed, with characters dying unmourned and the dark forces at work to... er, whatever it was they wanted to do. This was a film with what would have been a legendarily confused production history assuming anyone very much had actually heard of it, with at least four versions floating around.

The most complete appeared to be The Nightmare Never Ends, though it also showed up under the title Cataclysm, and in shorter form as Satan's Supper (which sounds like a seedy restaurant) and Shiver (not to be confused with David Cronenberg's Shivers) and even as part of an anthology movie, Night Train to Terror, from the mid-eighties which was evidence of how difficult it had been to get this movie distributed in the first place. It had been scripted by Philip Yordan, a much-respected, Oscar-winning screenwriter of the fifties who had acted as a front for blacklisted writers, though the main effect this appeared to have on his career was to send him down a blind alley of utter trash in his later years.

Whatever paid the bills, one supposed, but it was odd to see the man who wrote Johnny Guitar and many other Western favourites reduced to making movies for which coherence was a rare blessing. In this case you could just about work out what he was getting at, a heavy philosophical theme about where atheism leaves humanity, and if God is dead does that mean Satan has secured a victory? As embodied by the eternally youthful Mr Olivier (Robert Bristol, who is no Laurence Olivier), he has been on the side of evil down the centuries, machine gunning musicians and dancing to disco music in his preferred Studio 54-style haunt. He even takes his shoes and socks off to reveal he has cloven hooves for feet, just one of a number of arresting, bizarre images to be found here.

Although perhaps none quite as weird as the sight of Cameron Mitchell strutting his funky stuff on the dancefloor. With curious inevitability, he showed up as a police detective investigating the mysterious death of his elderly Holocaust survivor neighbour (Marc Lawrence), a man killed apparently after learning too much about Olivier in the style of The Omen (an obvious influence). Mitchell teams up with his cop partner (er, Marc Lawrence - huh?) and begins to piece together the jigsaw while in a parallel storyline the Hansons are drawn into Satan's web which sees her enduring ever more lurid nightmares and meeting mystics. It would be easy to dismiss this as utter trash, yet in Yordan's writings there is a sincere attempt to get to the heart of spiritual evil and present a reasoned argument for both sides of the atheism debate. However, the fact that three directors were credited indicated a work pulling in all sorts of directions, which made for a mess, but an interesting one, culminating in a scene in an operating theatre where Claire tries to exorcise Olivier through open heart surgery. Haphazard and barmy.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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