Temptress from the sea… Loving… Killing..
Was she Human?
Dennis Hopper, in his first leading role plays a lonely sailor on leave, Johnny Drake who meets the beautiful, mysterious Mora (Linda Lawson) who performs as a mermaid on the Santa Monica Pier. Or is she really a mermaid?
After they become lovers, Johnny discovers that Mora’s past two boyfriends were found dead on the beach, washed up onto the shore. As his suspicions grow, Mora’s doomed and sinister past is slowly revealed. She really believes she is descended from sea creatures that must kill when the moon is full.
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. 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.
Director Curtis Harrington chose his title from the last stanza of Edgar Allan Poe’s Annable Lee.
Dennis Hopper …. Johnny
Linda Lawson …. Mora
Gavin Muir …. Murdock
Luana Anders …. Girl
Tom Dillon …. Merry-go-round Operator
Marjorie Eaton …. Fortune Teller
H.E. West …. Lieutenant Henderson
While on shore leave, sailor Johnny Drake (Dennis Hopper) becomes enamored of Mora (Linda Lawson), a young woman who works as a “mermaid” at a sideshow attraction. But for Mora it’s no act. She actually believes that she really is a mermaid who is destined to murder men on the night of a full moon. Drake is still captivated by the mysterious woman, however, and begins to suspect that her boss, Capt. Murdock (Gavin Muir), may have something to do with Mora’s murderous thoughts.