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Night Tide

28 customer reviews

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(Dec 28, 1999)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A lonely sailor, Johnny Drake (Dennis Hopper), meets the beautiful, mysterious Mora (Linda Lawson) who performs as a mermaid on the Santa Monica Pier. After they become lovers, Johnny discovers that Mora's past two boyfriends inexplicably disappeared. As his suspicions grow, Mora's doomed and sinister past is slowly revealed. In his first leading role, Hopper is captivating as the naive and eager Johnny. Like Val Lewton's "The Cat People," Curtis Harrington's "Night Tide" is hypnotic and eerie, macabre and haunting.

No ordinary cult film, Night Tide covers a variety of different waterfronts. It's a film from the American underground, it's a horror movie, and it's an early example of independent cinema (before there was such a term). Shot in 1960, it's also a strangely haunting artifact of its time. Night Tide was written and directed by Curtis Harrington, a member of the experimental avant-garde of the '50s who went on to make the atmospheric shocker Games and many an episode of Dynasty. Mounted on the cheap, and shot on authentic locations in Santa Monica and crumbling Venice, California, Night Tide has a loose, lyrical quality not found outside Cassavetes and Godard films of the same era.

Dennis Hopper, whose youthful looks and Method style were still intact at this point, plays an innocent sailor at liberty in a coastal town; he falls for a girl who plays a mermaid at the sideshow. Or is she really a mermaid? Inspired by Val Lewton's horror classic Cat People, Harrington cooks up a supernatural stew with the suggestion that the willowy lass is one of the "Sea People," called back to her ocean home by a weird sea witch (played by a real-life occult celebrity called Cameron). Yet Night Tide only occasionally feels like a horror movie; with its naturalistic exteriors, bongos, and coffeehouse atmosphere, it's more a slice of poetic bohemia. Luana Anders, who should have had a major movie career but later became a B-movie leading lady, is wonderfully fresh as the good girl, and the music score by Hollywood pro David Raksin (Laura) is inventive and offbeat. Shown at the Venice Film Festival in 1961, the film did not secure a U.S. release until 1963, when its New-Wave-ish style probably looked less innovative. Seen today, Night Tide is both a lovely mood piece and a look back at a peculiar moment in American moviemaking, and either way a bit of low-cost enchantment. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • Extensive liner notes by Richard Valley, pubisher/editor of Scarlet Street, the Magazine of Mystery and Horror

Product Details

  • Actors: Dennis Hopper, Linda Lawson, Gavin Muir, Luana Anders, Marjorie Eaton
  • Directors: Curtis Harrington
  • Writers: Curtis Harrington
  • Producers: Aram Kantarian, H. Duane Weaver, Jules Schwartz
  • Format: Black & White, Letterboxed, Special Edition, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 28, 1999
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305669511
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #224,745 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Night Tide" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By tokyodoll on March 8, 2003
Format: DVD
Great low-budget indy horror film from the 60s inspired by the Val Lewton classic 'Cat People'. Fans of other b/w indy horror flicks like 'Carnival of Souls' should really enjoy it. It stars the great Dennis Hopper ('Giant', 'Easy Rider', 'River's Edge', 'Blue Velvet', etc.) as a naive young sailor named Johnny who falls for a mysterious & beautiful girl called Mora. Mora works as "Mora the Mermaid" in a sideshow during the day on a CA Boardwalk. After they become lovers, Johnny discovers that Mora's last two boyfriends mysteriously drowned and soon he starts wondering if Mora is a real mermaid or one of the spooky "Sea People".
The soundtrack is a mix of great bongo numbers & bad b-movie music, but the real highlight is the eerie atmosphere and great stylized photography. The director tried hard to raise "Night Tide" out of the usual b-movie abyss and it shows. Excellent flick!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Peter on December 3, 2004
Format: DVD
A haunting, mysterious and magical movie. Marjorie Cameron adds an element of real life magic. Kenneth Anger also had done this when he used her in `The Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954)'. Marjorie Easton also adds to the spell, and Dennis Hopper is wonderful. The carnival is the perfect background for a a plot about fantasy and reality. Filmed at the Santa Monica Pier, Venice and Ocean Park, California, where Anton LaVey played organ at strip joints in the late 1940's. The name Mora is found in many parts of the world as the death aspect of the `Triple Goddess', or Night Mare, or female vampire.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
"Night Tide" makes extensive use of the Venice, California milieu in which the story is set, telling the story of a lonely sailor (Dennis Hopper) who is attracted to Mora (Linda Lawson), a young woman who enacts the role of a mermaid in one of the sideshows on the pier. Mora, her guardian, and several of the people who make up the sideshow subculture hint at the possibility of a terrible secret about Mora's past loves and perhaps her true otherworldly nature, and the film takes off from there. The streets of Venice (as it appeared in the early '60s when the film was made) are turned into a shadowy, bizarre landscape through the excellent photography and editing, and the colorful supporting characters contribute to the strange, dreamlike mood. Performances are uniformly excellent and right, from the leads to minor characters. Director/writer Curtis Harrington, in his feature debut, has made a low-key suspense/fantasy film that, like the films of Val Lewton in the 1940s (Cat People, The Seventh Victim, et. al.), substitutes our dread of monsters for the monsters themselves and keeps us guessing until the end. Though not well-known except in cult cinema circles, this is a beautifully-done, effective film you can watch again and again.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Surfink on August 21, 2001
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I won't go into a treatise on the film except to say that it is one of my sentimental favorites of the fantasy genre (inspired by Val Lewton's films of the 40s, particularly Cat People) even though there's no monsters, sci-fi apparatus, etc. Just a wonderful, evocative mood and sense of place, offbeat and interesting characters, effective photography, etc. According to the accompanying commentary, Harrington and Hopper felt they were making a "movie of the streets" like the Italian directors and I think that's part of what contributes to Night Tide's uniqueness; that feel really comes through. Anyway the DVD is very clean, the best I've ever seen the film, letterboxed, with no video or audio problems that I noticed. The commentary, although there are occasional lulls, is quite interesting. Harrington and Hopper have to jog each other's memories a bit (although Hopper eventually remembers quite a bit more detail about the movie than one would expect) and some fascinating bits are revealed (they identify nearly every location they shot on, many of which could still be visited by the intrepid.) In summary, fans of serious, atmospheric fantasy-horror (or Lewton freaks) won't be disappointed in the movie or the DVD.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By William Kersten on October 19, 2001
Format: DVD
This film is a fine example of how low budget is sometimes better than big budget: its qualities come partly from moody black and white lighting on ordinary locations and subtle suggestions of fear and the supernatural with lighting and editing rather than blatant special effects. It has a quiet and eerie, dream-like atmosphere, with excellent acting by Dennis Hopper, Luana Anders, and Linda Lawson as "Mora the Mermaid." The music score by David Raksin is excellent, and a rare example of a major film composer working on a very small budgeted film. Curtis Harrington's directing creates a sense of psychological eerieness and shadowy imagery rarely seen since the Val Lewton classics of the forties, which it is similar to (especially the original "Cat People" with Simone Simon). This DVD release is very good quality, and features an excellent and informative commentary by Curtis Harrington and Dennis Hopper.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. Salmestrelli on February 24, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
If you think the Night Tide- - 50 years anniversary edition offers a clearer print as compared to even the lowest budget DVD productions of this film, forget it. This edition is NOT remastered. The product description doesn't mention remastering but the fact that it is an anniversary edition was enough to make me purchase it and check. The sound is crisp and clear but the picture is grainy with jumpy film splices and spots on many of the moving images. You would be better served purchasing a version of the film which costs less than $9.99.

As for the film, it is an excellent light horror film which works better if thought of as a mystery story. The more you think about this film after seeing it, the more of a mystery it becomes even though, on the surface, most of the story appears to be answered. After thinking about some of the characters, their possible motivations for doing what they do, the mystery surrounding Mora only grows.

The acting, direction and especially the script which is beautifully written with all the characters sharing the common thread of loneliness is all well done and it recommends itself so much more than any Roger Corman film in this genre. I highly recommend this film and it deserves to be remastered in a REAL 50th Anniversary Edition and not what Amazon is offering for sale here for $9.99
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