Weird. I don’t throw around the word weird often when discussing a movie, but Night Tide as directed by Curtis Harrington and offered to us now under the Kino Classics label on Blu-ray… well… it’s weird. Forget that it stars Dennis Hopper in a fairly early role in his career. That’s not what makes it weird. He was still rather tame at this point. It isn’t that the movie was marketed as though it has spooky or horror related elements. It truly isn’t a horror picture. The word thriller, which was also tossed around during its marketing campaign, is more appropriate. What makes Night Tide weird? Mermaids.
Synopsis from Kino Lorber:
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.
Mermaids, I tell ya! It’s an intriguing premise that the whole thing revolves around. Imagine someone tries to convince that you are a mermaid, convincingly, and then you actually begin to believe it. You’ve played a mermaid in front of people as a sideshow attraction. You feel a distance from society. You are yearning for something to make you feel unique and then someone lays this whopper on you. That’s a pretty strange premise, and it’s even something more difficult to believe could be acknowledged or believed, but that’s the founding concept behind Night Tide. So I say weird, and that’s in a good way I assure you.
Night Tide watches slow. It’s a quiet, psychological story that begins with innocent romance and drags its way to a somewhat bleak climax. It’s dark and beautiful, but I will say that this Blu-ray edition didn’t do much for the restoration with visible dust quite common on the print. It is otherwise a beautiful transfer affording the viewer a visual experience that will remind him of Carnival of Souls. Strangely enough in researching the movie after watching, I find that this picture is often compared to the dark, surreal footage of Souls. It’s an accurate comparison though Night Tide is a clear cut narrative with dialogue as opposed to Carnival of Souls which watches like a haunted house ride trough the spook show of your own mind, quiet and without explanation.
• Mastered in HD from 35mm film elements restored by the Academy Film Archive, with support from The Film Foundation and Curtis Harrington
• Audio commentary by director Curtis Harrington and actor Dennis Hopper
• Two-part interview with director Curtis Harrington, by David Del Valle (1987, 55 min.)
• Original theatrical trailer
You can pick up Night Tide on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. Pre-order available now for its 10/15 release.