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NIGHT TIDE [1961] | Horror Cult Movies

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RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes


Johnny Drake, a sailor on shore depart in Santa Monica, meets a younger lady named Mora who seems as a mermaid in a sideshow attraction on the boardwalk operated by former sea Captain Murdock. The 2 quickly change into shut, however the merry-go-round operator’s granddaughter Ellen Sands informs Johnny that two of Mora’s earlier boyfriends died beneath mysterious circumstances. Then Murdoch tells him that he’s in nice hazard and Mora appears to be beneath the delusion that she actually is a mermaid….

“And so, all of the night-tide, I lie down by the facet Of my darling – my darling – my life and my bride, Within the sepulchre there by the ocean, In her tomb by the sounding sea.” Edgar Allan Poe’s final full poem is a couple of love of a girl so sturdy it stretches past demise, and was the start line for this beguiling little low price range gem regardless of misunderstanding some Greek mythology. Sirens had been not mermaids however had been really half feminine human / half chicken, and there have been both solely two or 5 of them relying on the tales. After Odysseus slipped by them, the Sirens dashed themselves onto the rocks, so none survived into the trendy period. Does this matter? Not likely in fact, however I do want screenwriters would do precise analysis on such issues. I’ve seen Curtis Harrington’s debut characteristic described as being very a lot a Val Lewton movie, which was the primary purpose I purchased the Blu-ray throughout Indicator’s final sale, however I don’t assume that’s completely true regardless that on the disc Harrington himself point out Lewton. Whereas it’s undoubtedly impressed by Cat Folks, the texture and method differs considerably. Sure, the dealing with is delicate, and characters are typically good and are proven with their occupations which was one other Lewton trademark, however there isn’t a lot in the best way of scary set items. that means that for a lot of this received’t appear to be a horror movie in any respect, only a romantic fantasy with some darkish components. Additionally, a lot of the movie takes place on location, nice use being fabricated from the considerably rundown Santa Monica Pier and the world instantly round it. Certainly there’s a quite naturalistic method employed regardless of the quirky touches and fascinating cinematography. I don’t assume I’ve seen any Harrington movies earlier than, however this movie suggests nice issues to return which didn’t appear to occur; for each Roger Corman alumni who made it massive, as many or extra failed to succeed in their potential.

Harrington primarily based his script, which was initially known as The Woman From Beneath The Sea, on a self-penned story titled The Secrets and techniques of the Sea. He bought it to Corman in 1960, no one else being aside from the Mickey Cohen gang. Harrington later stated that, “They had been very charming males however I had visions that if the movie didn’t do nicely I’d find yourself on the backside of the LA river in a block of cement!”. This was Dennis Hopper’s first lead function, and he had his sailor go well with barely darkened so it could look higher on movie. Throughout capturing, Hopper was noticed by navy police who threatened to arrest him for sporting a unclean uniform, whereas Linda Lawson’s husband was ceaselessly round protecting a really shut eye on his spouse’s love scenes. Hopper additionally recollects that he got here throughout Ursula Andress on a yacht with Hugh O’ Brien; Andress begged Hopper to not inform her husband John Derek. Peter Lorre was approached to play the function of Murdock, however the filmmakers couldn’t afford the wage he demanded. The truth is the $28,000 price range [according to Hopper] couldn’t stretch to a lot in any respect, together with extras; buddies of the crew performed peripheral characters. Hopper acquired drunk on the final day of filming and had a bike crash which saved him in hospital for 2 weeks till his final pictures might be accomplished. Then Harrington didn’t have the cash to pay the lab invoice, and the lab concerned, Pathé, threatened to take possession of the destructive. Ultimately Corman stepped in and requested Pathé to carry off on their authorized actions to permit Corman’s Filmgroup manufacturing firm to distribute the movie, guaranteeing Pathé $15,000 inside 12 months of the movie’s launch. although in the long run it was American Worldwide Photos who licensed it for a wider launch, double billed with The Raven. Over time the unique movie components had been misplaced, although the HD restoration, supervised by Nicholas Winding Refn, seems to be largely fantastic.

After all we open with pictures of the ocean brushing on to the seashore; what number of movies start this manner? However in fact with this one it’s vital to the movie, the “evening tide” in the course of the full moon being when it’s strongest and when mermaids on land need to return to their kin. We’re not instructed why, however I’ll hazard a guess and say that perhaps they’ll die in the event that they spend any extra time on land? Anyway, we then see Johnny, leaning towards a barrier on the pier, looking to sea. Is he subconsciously inviting a mermaid into his life? We comply with him across the pier and its points of interest earlier than he wonders right into a jazz bar, and it’s actual cool jazz right here, the place the gamers are capable of improvise for ages with no disruption of temper, a lot in order that your thoughts could also be distracted from Johnny and his on the spot attraction to Mona, who he sees sitting on her personal like him. He asks if he can sit together with her so he can see the band correctly, however she turns down his provide to purchase her a drink. Then a mysterious outdated woman seems who seems to be very similar to an aged model of Mona; she speaks to Mona in Greek and Mona shortly leaves. Johnny is ready to meet up with her and stroll her residence, however did we want him immediately kissing her? It appears means too quickly and undermines the sweetness and innocence of Johnny, who joined the navy to see the world however hasn’t seen very a lot of it but; his little strolling on a barrier simply after he’s left her is gorgeous. The following morning he returns for breakfast at her condominium on the pier; she impresses him by with the ability to seize and settle down a seagull. Nonetheless, he’s unsure the right way to react when she goes right into a trance when dancing to 2 drummers at a seashore gathering earlier than that outdated lady exhibits up once more and Mona faints. It’s a very memorable sequence this. Mona’s dancing is unusual, horny and primal all on the identical time; it’s greatest proven as a mirrored image on a big rock, with the woman in shadow trying like some primitive particular person from prehistory about to be painted onto that exact same wall. It’s comprehensible that Johnny is bewitched.

Nonetheless, a detective exhibits up on the pier having apparently discovered “new clues” about some case. The merry-go-round operator’s granddaughter Ellen tells Johnny that this considerations Mora who had two exes die. And the boardwalk’s proprietor Captain Murdock says to him that he’s in “grave hazard”. Apparently Murdock discovered Mona on a Greek island when she was not only a little one however an actual real mermaid and introduced her to america the place she was capable of work as a mermaid in a sideshow, however Johnny doesn’t imagine this nonsense, all that’s vital is that he’s in love, although you’d assume that he’d have second ideas after he has a nightmare the place Mona comes in the direction of him, they embrace and he notices that she has a tail, earlier than a lower to Johnny being strangled by an octopus. Mentioned creature is a kind of ones which doesn’t appear to maneuver and subsequently requires the actor at risk to create the phantasm, however by now we’re so concerned within the story that it doesn’t actually matter. We really feel for each Johnny and Mona, whether or not the latter is a assassin or not. Poor Johnny is misplaced in some sort of nearly existential maze. That annoying outdated woman rings Johnny then places the cellphone down, and he then see her strolling away from a cellphone sales space so he follows her – and finally ends up at Murdock’s home whereas the woman has disappeared. The place did she go? Into Murdock’s home? The a lot larger query as as to if Mona is a mermaid or not isn’t answered, regardless that we do finally see her in her sideshow attraction type. As issues conclude, there seems to be a rational clarification for all the pieces, with there actually being a harmful menace nevertheless it being human – it’s actually fairly nicely labored out – however then we’re reminded of one thing which doesn’t tie in with what we’ve simply had defined to us, like the headband left on the finish of Portrait Of Jennie which tells Joseph Cotten and us that perhaps Jennie did exist in any case. As of late, this type of conclusion can look like a little bit of a cop out, however in any case I’ll take fantasy over actuality any day.

After all it’s intercourse that’s the largest worry, regardless that the script by no means explicitly states it. Did Mona kill these two earlier beaus whereas making love, the act inflicting her to change into a lethal sea creature? And what’s she actually making an attempt to do within the underwater climax – look carefully. Evening Tide is paced leisurely, with Johnny and us spending a lot time with convincing supporting characters with out detracting from the primary plot which has an actual sense of thriller and tragedy about it. A hand reader is a cliched character – you already know precisely what her half in proceedings goes to be –  however she nonetheless makes an amazing first impression, complaining about tea luggage. Murdock is fascinating. The sometimes heavy consuming ex-sea Captain retains a severed hand in a bar [“just a little Arabian souvenir”] and is upset when he and Johnny can’t trade tales of sea life due to Johnny’s inexperience. Then there’s Ellen. She clearly falls for Johnny as shortly as Johnny falls for Mona and even says as a lot in just a few traces which apply to Johnny’s emotions for Mona and her emotions for Johnny; crucial second is when she pretends she was going to make espresso simply because Johnny’s simply confirmed up. Harrington’s script avoids cliched protestations of affection or adoration from her, even in her last scene. The truth is dialogue is mostly sturdy in what is sort of a talky 84 minutes – I wasn’t in any respect bored, what with the setting just about being a personality within the movie itself –  however these anticipating creepy moments will probably be let down. Harrington prefers to recommend the existence of a special world in a way more delicate means, with the offering of a dreamy undercurrent the place even filmmaking limitations equivalent to pictures being not fairly in focus provides to the disquieting environment even when this was not supposed. A spotlight is when three pictures take us nearer to Johnny’s bewildered face, earlier than an nearly expressionistic montage of the fairground to symbolize Johnny coming into this atmosphere after being actually misplaced at sea.

It’s maybe onerous to regulate to Hopper as a quiet, quite melancholy particular person. He’s very unsure in entrance of the digicam, however this appears to make him extra likeable. His character appears painfully lonely, as if loneliness might be the true monster right here. Linda Lawson is fittingly distant and enigmatic, however the strongest efficiency could also be from from Luana Anders who’s capable of present that her character is in love whereas remaining delicate. On the other finish of the size is a few appaling appearing by a thespian known as H. E. West as a detective character who fortunately is barely in a single scene. That’s the best way it usually is with this stuff although. Then there’s David Raksin’s fascinating musical rating, which is essentially primarily based on jazz sonorities and harmonies. There are occasions when it’s maybe to in your face when no accompaniment might be wanted, nevertheless it reaches some massively emotive peaks in the course of the movie’s two dramatic excessive factors the place water is used for nice dramatic impact. I ponder how Harrington was capable of get a “title” composer for his little movie? It’s all very haunting, however largely in an unsure method. Boiled all the way down to it, most of Evening Tide really consists of Johnny going from individual to individual, bumbling about, being instructed issues, but nearly each body is well-composed, and you’ll nearly scent the salt air. Harrington has achieved loads right here, with little or no. This movie will depart a long-lasting impression, even when it fails to truly seize you. It’s nearly Carnival Of Soul‘s cousin.

Ranking: ★★★★★★★★☆☆


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