Directed by Curtis Harrington, Night Tide stars a rather young-looking Dennis Hopper as a sailor who falls in love with a fish-woman while on shore-leave. Her name? Mora (Linda Lawson). Her game? When not attending a local jazz club, she works as a mermaid in a quaint sideshow attraction near the beach. Interesting, right? Just as interesting is that, as Hopper’s character, Johnny, gets acquainted with her, he learns that she believes she is a mermaid. Oh, and also that a bunch of her ex-lovers are dead. Inevitably, Johnny has to wonder what’s going on, and if he’ll join her other exes in the same fate. Also, what’s up with Mora’s boss, Captain Murdock (Gavin Muir)?

Worthwhile Aspects of “Night Tide”

In contrast to how young Hopper looks and acts in this movie, the character of Captain Murdock seems like a wonderfully jaded “carny”-type. Sure, he’s an expert at promoting the weird act of a woman pretending to be a mermaid, but his being tired of it also subtly sneaks through. If you think about it, that’s not the easiest kind of performance to pull off and it adds some authenticity to an otherwise far-fetched tale. There are other nice touches, too, like how Mora lives in an apartment above a merry-go-round. There’s basically no need for much comment on that, other than it being a neat idea.

Why “Night Tide” Won’t Be For Everybody

This isn’t a bad movie, but it’s not exactly an action thriller, nor a blood-curdling shocker. The basic mood is that falling in love can be dangerous. There is some tension and mystery taking place, but very few people will consider this some epic tale. In fact, it’s somewhat reminiscent of a classier Roger Corman venture that you may only watch every so often (if ever). There’s also the quirk that Johnny comes off a little “rapey” at times during his initial obsession with Mora. The character does seem innocent enough but comes pretty darn close to crossing the line (if not actually doing so).

Marjorie Cameron Was a Little Different

Marjorie Cameron haunts Johnny and Mora in Night Tide!

Night Tide also features Marjorie Cameron as an unknown, mysterious woman who tries to lure Mora back to the sea…or something like that. While that adds a certain mystique to the movie, it’s just as interesting to look into Marjorie Cameron herself. She was an artist and occultist who, along with her rocket engineer husband, Jack Parsons, were involved in the religious movement established by Aleister Crowley. You can read about her winding road of a life on Wikipedia and elsewhere. The weird rituals and apocalyptic visions could be an interesting film, and one wonders when a biopic of her and/or Jack Parsons’ life will be conjured up.

What do you think of Night Tide? Does is flow swimmingly? Let us know in the comments!

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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