Night Tide (1961)

US Kino Lorber DVD

The Great Dennis Hopper visiting Mora the Mermaid's lair

Text below written 2016-04-14

Finally !
A Great DVD release of this mermaid murder mystery drama heavy on the atmosphere and the old
abomination release from Alpha Video can be forgotten. This Kino release is a restored version by the Academy
Film Archive and with support from director Curtis Harrington

The old Alpha Video DVD release with a cut 4:3 picture

The Alpha Video releases did have quite cool sleeves to lure you in buying them, but the picture quality
most often were abominable, so blurry you had to visit an eye doctor after watching them

Night Tide is/were an independent production made on an extremely low budget and clearly was inspired
by the 1940's psychological horror drama classic Cat People, but with mermaids/sirens instead of feline
creatures. Besides a ton of atmosphere this little film also has a young Dennis Hopper as the sailor and the
gorgeous Linda Lawson as Mora The Mermaid. When this was filmed in 1960 Hopper was only 24 years
old, and it's nice to see Dennis in a non-psycho role as a regular nice guy.
Due to financial problems the film wasn't released until 1963 though and then forgotten, until it achieved
certified Cult Film status later on. Harrington came from the experimental short film cinema arena

Young John Drake (Hopper) is a sailor in the US Navy since a year and when he's got some free time he
visits LA and Venice Beach with it's Santa Monica Pier. At a jazz club he meets the beautiful brunette Mora
(Linda Lawson) and she works at the pier as Mora The Mermaid, and it costs 25 cent to peep at her in
her nest, some sort of glass box/aquarium. They start hanging out together and she tells him she's born on an
island far away (Myconos, Greece) and was adopted by the proprietor of the Mermaid stall attraction, the
brit Captain Murdoch (Gavin Muir).
In the intro jazz club scene (the Blue Grotto) there's a Cat People rip-off scene when an older lady dressed
in black stares threateningly at Mora and speak to her in a foreign language, one of the Sea People maybe


Mora visits the Blue Grotto, collects things from the sea, are friendly with sea gulls and works at a sea-side pier
as a mermaid. The Sea defines her, and she believes in the ancient myths about the mermaids, the sirens, and
that she belongs to the Sea people, descendants of the ancient Siren creatures. Just like Simone Simon thought
that she belonged to the ancient race of the Cat People in the 1943 film.
Mora, turns to a mermaid/siren, half fish and half man, at every full moon and then she has to Kill ... maybe?


The Mermaid

The Mermaid Lore - a digression borrowed from my review of Spring (see Cult & Classics page 1)

" ... I'm interested in the subject ancient creatures/supernatural beings vs. Man and i'm crazy about the mermaids lore
.... The Great low budget cult classic Night Tide (1961) , the original man falls in love with a mermaid movie (?) or
maybe there's some even older films depicting the classic theme of a man falling in love with a female creature from
the sea, a mermaid or a Siren ....
Dennis Hopper is great in this very low budget film effectively directed by Curtis Harrington, a psychological drama-
horror with a story maybe inspired from Jacques Torneurs horror-drama classic Cat People (1943), and ...

Racconti 1961, Sweden 1962 Bonniers edition

The Siren (Lighea/La Sirena/The Professor and the Siren/Sirenen) The Hypnotic Masterpiece short story
written by sicilian writer Giuseppe Tomasi Di Lampedusa shortly before his death in 1957. Lampedusa, best
known for his famous novel Il Gattopardo/The Leopard (filmed by Luchino Visconti in 1963).

This amazing story is based on the old mythological beliefs in elemental spirits, in water spirits, Ondines (undiner)
and water nymphs, mermaids, sirens. There's the slavic Rusalka, in many russian films and an opera by Dvorak,
the German Lorelei, the Rhine siren and delightfully depicted in Amando De Ossorio's trash-horror Las Garras
de Lorelei (The Loreley's Grasp, 1974) where redhaired beauty Helga Liné plays the heart-munching Siren,
the Swedish Sjörå/Havsfrun and then there's the mermaids and Sirens in classic (greek/latin) western mythology.
Yes, and there's water spirits in most other cultures all over the world, as in Thailand (seen in the fantasy film Phra-
Apai-Manee from 2002, with the gorgeous miss Thailand as a mermaid), in Japan as Kappas, in Africa etc. etc.

In The Siren, which takes place in Torino in the north of Italy an old sicilian professor tells a younger man, another
sicilian by birth, about something that happened to him when he was young. When, he lived in a house by the sea
on the rocky wild coast of Sicily and with the volcano Etna rising at a distance.

When out in his boat he meets Lighea, a young sexually arousing girl, half woman and half fish. She's the daughter
of Calliope (the muse of poetry?) and she's many 1000's of years old ...."


Back to Night Tide:

Beware of the Night Tide when the moon attraction is at it's maximum

Suddenly a police inspector turns up out on the amusement pier and he asks questions about Mora. The People
running the attractions knows something Jack don't, and the Merry-go-round owner's daughter Ellen (Luana
Anders) tells him that Moira's 2 earlier boyfriends had disappeared in the sea later to be found dead, drowned.
Captain Murdoch tells him to beware when there's a full moon, at the Night Tide when the moon attraction is at
it's maximum. Then Mora asks him to join her in a scuba dive ...

Extreme low budget but a GREAT Murder Mystery Drama with a young and likeable Dennis Hopper and the
beautiful Linda Lawson as the enigmatic Mora. Interestingly shot in LA around Venice beach.
Original 1.66:1 ratio, 2.0 audio english. Extra: A great commentary track with director and scriptwriter Curtis
Harrington and legendary actor Dennis Hopper, original theatrical trailer and a 2 part interview from 1987 in
the TV show David Del Valle's Sinister image (55 minutes)
- and wait - i forgot to tell that there's a fine music score from the great David "Lauras Theme" Raksin


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