Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Night Tide (1961, Curtis Harrington)


Night Tide may be more of a psychological horror thriller than a supernatural one, and yet it operates as both quite well. This is a tightly paced film that still has wonderfully lyrical and also eerie moments, often within minutes of each other. Dennis Hopper is a lonely sailor desperate for love and companionship, this settling on a woman that may be a mermaid. Or thinks she’s a mermaid. Well she plays one at the local carnival, anyways.

Linda Lawson is the alluring and mysterious woman Mora, who may or may not have killed her previous lovers. Hopper’s Johnny learns of this, yet in typical horror movie fashion he doesn’t believe it and he continues to see her. Love sure is blind. There is a dream sequence that looks even more fantastic in the movie’s black and white cinematography, and that sequence leads into an ocean scene that is pure 1950s melodrama.

While the movie probably could have been longer, oddly enough, Harrington was limited by his budget and he smartly wraps up the picture under 90 minutes. Parts of Night Tide definitely had to have been an influence on The Lighthouse, and I’ll be thinking about this one for quite a while even if I didn’t give the movie a perfect score. Harrington’s early 1960s movie, much like Cat Peope and Carnival of Souls, offers up people haunted by a past that endangers their future. I would love to see the ocean at night, as long as I don’t stare too hard into those black, deep waves…

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