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Night Tide1961

  • 3.8
A sailor on shore leave becomes fascinated by a woman who poses as a mermaid in an oceanfront carnival. As their relationship blossoms, Johnny (Dennis Hopper) realizes that Mora (Linda Lawson) is more than a sideshow illusionist. She seems to be a descendent of the mythical sirens of the sea, and is under the mesmeric control of a mysterious woman (Marjorie Cameron) who beckons Mora to return to her home beneath the waves. Alongside CARNIVAL OF SOULS and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, NIGHT TIDE (loosely inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's "Annabel Lee") remains one of the most influential indie horror films of the 1960s, launching the career of director Curtis Harrington and helping establish Hopper as one of cult cinema's most eclectic leading men.

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What makes this film worth watching? See All Reviews

"...a love story with unusual complications, a fitting and worthwhile tribute to the haunting poem that inspired it..." - Scott Tobias, the A.V. Club


2 members like this review

It's slow, but there's a luminous beatnik aura here that makes it worth seeing. The reason is director Curtis Harrington, who made avant garde shorts before this story of what happens when a good-hearted sailor-on-leave falls in love with a gloomy brunette whose last two boyfriends died in strange drowning accidents. There's also a rumor going around the beach town that she's a mythical mermaid. Whatever. This played the drive-ins, but Harrington directs with his heart in the arthouse. He uses his low budget the same way that the neorealists did. The raw settings are strokes of authenticity rather than failures of filmmaking. Harrington doesn't hide the grime. In fact, he often holds his camera at a distance from the characters so we can see their trashed-out, smokey world. A few scenes are even documentary-like views of an ocean-side tourist trap. The constant, haunting sound of the surf in the background further lets us know that we're in the hands of a filmmaker who gives a damn.

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top reviewer

Member Reviews (10)

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top reviewer

Must consider this a B movie, but a good B movie. The plot is a little ridiculous. Dennis Hopper plays a sailor who falls for a girl who's a mermaid attraction at an amusement park. Soon after he begins to date her the sailor learns that the girl's two previous boyfirends drowned to death, and he discovers that the girl believes herself to be a siren of mythic notoriety.

Shot in Venice, California of yesteryear, the sets have a funky old charm, and many of the actors in the supporting cast are good character actors (notably the fortune teller). Hopper is good as the young, naive and earnest sailor. Moody lighting and cinematography with some jazz club scenes thrown in make this a charming relic from the 50s.

4 members like this review
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top reviewer

More of a haunting sonnet than a tale of shadows and terror, Night Tide has a sort of dream-like ebb that is strangely hypnotic. In an early role, Dennis Hopper is atypically bushy tailed and quizzical, which gives his performance an unintentional creepiness. Night Tide is a pleasant, sometimes weird, trek into the unknown.

3 members like this review
33856.small
top reviewer

It's slow, but there's a luminous beatnik aura here that makes it worth seeing. The reason is director Curtis Harrington, who made avant garde shorts before this story of what happens when a good-hearted sailor-on-leave falls in love with a gloomy brunette whose last two boyfriends died in strange drowning accidents. There's also a rumor going around the beach town that she's a mythical mermaid. Whatever. This played the drive-ins, but Harrington directs with his heart in the arthouse. He uses his low budget the same way that the neorealists did. The raw settings are strokes of authenticity rather than failures of filmmaking. Harrington doesn't hide the grime. In fact, he often holds his camera at a distance from the characters so we can see their trashed-out, smokey world. A few scenes are even documentary-like views of an ocean-side tourist trap. The constant, haunting sound of the surf in the background further lets us know that we're in the hands of a filmmaker who gives a damn.

2 members like this review
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top reviewer

Beautiful photography, script, and and a story that doesn't feel corny. This "B" movie has everything that the big studio pictures were missing in the 1960's.

2 members like this review
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top reviewer

Less of a horror tale, and more of a weird dream, "Night Tide" is a gothic beatnik fable set amid the tarnished ruins of a dreamland known as Venice, California. There is a bit of a noir mood in the air. You can almost picture Dennis Hopper turning a corner and running into a haggard Tom Neal from "Detour." The destinies of these two characters may be different, but they seem taking similar paths. "Night Tide" also features a small but memorable appearance by the enigmatic Marjorie Cameron, the legendary bohemian artist-occultist.

2 members like this review
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top reviewer

Hopper has a 50's Owen Wilson-style innocent charm. I couldn't believe this was Dennis Hopper--so innocent and sweet. The Santa Monica pier where I spent summer vacations as a young child was a nostalgic aspect of watching this film. The interplay between "real" and "myth" made for a well woven tale with a logical conclusion.... Mora's dark beauty and the loss of innocence was really well played. The tarot reading was really well done. This entire film was very Hitchcock worthy in it's use of light and shadow, emotion and logic, and the torment of the soul. I really enjoyed this film.

1 member likes this review

A beauty of a film, somewhat flawed by stilted dialogue. Worth viewing to see Dennis Hopper as a drop-dead gorgeous, if somewhat stunned-looking young man and fascinating, gritty bar room and beach side carnival scenes. A very enjoyable mashup of noir, romance and bad monster movie tropes.

1 member likes this review
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really corny & sweet_hopper is totally cute_it's shot really well_i love the feeling of it_so yeah go for a swim & find the mermaid_it's fun

Such an incredible movie. Just as special now as when a friend showed it to me around 15 years ago.

In fact, this movie was my accidental introduction to the world of Val Lewton. This movie, of course, is not a Val Lewton film, but the references to Cat People are obvious although not in a way that detracts from this movie. The shadow-work, the supernatural plot, the naive young person learning about the darkness of an older, more mysterious world, are just a few of the treasures of this film and Lewton's oeuvre in general.

I should say that some of the dialogue comes across as corny or unnatural, but let those parts add to the uniqueness of the experience.

Painfully dull.