Night Tide – USA, 1961



Night Tide is a 1961 horror-thriller film, written and directed by Curtis Harrington and starring Dennis Hopper (Queen of Blood). The title was inspired by a line in Edgar Allan Poe’s poem ‘Annabel Lee‘.

Harrington managed to persuade top Hollywood composer David Raksin (The Hound of the Baskervilles, LauraWhirlpool) to provide the film’s score for “virtually nothing” simply because he liked the movie.

Night Tide was filmed on a budget of $50,000 in 1960, premiered in 1961, but was held up from general release until 1963 (see below).

The film restored by the Academy Film Archive in 2007.


Seaman Johnny Drake (Dennis Hopper), on shore leave, finds a “Mermaid” sideshow attraction at the marina, operated by Captain Murdock (Gavin Muir). The “Mermaid” Mora (Linda Lawson), who lives in a hotel above the marina merry-go-round (the movie was filmed at the Santa Monica pier) and Johnny fall for each other. Everyone around them is wary of the romance, as her previous lovers have died mysteriously…


The production company, Virgo, defaulted on their Pathe Lab loan of $33,793 and Pathe was preparing to foreclose on the picture. Roger Corman asked the lab to hold off on their legal actions to allow Filmgroup to distribute the film, guaranteeing Pathe $15,000 within 12 months of the film’s release. Pathe agreed, and Filmgroup released through American International Pictures.

night tide 3

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1080p/AVC encoded sourced from the 2007 restoration of the film by the Academy Film Archive

Audio Commentary by Dennis Hopper and director Curtis Harrington

Two Curtis Harrington Interviews from 1987

Trailers for Night TideThe Stranger, and White Zombie.


“Night Tide is all about its hypnotic atmosphere. The pier where Mora works is sunny but desolate. Captain Murdock lives in a crumbling, not-yet-gentrified part of Venice Beach that wouldn’t be out of place in Eraserhead. The whole film has a dreamy undercurrent that obfuscates what’s real and what isn’t. It’s haunting, but in a subtle, uncertain way.” Casey Broadwater,



“Barely a horror film in the traditional sense, Night Tide is soaked in atmosphere from the opening frames. Harrington’s skillful use of the desolate seaside locations (mostly shot around the Venice and Santa Monica Beaches) yields some terrific results, but the stately pacing and deliberately low key acting may put off drive-in monster buffs.” Nathaniel Thompson Mondo Digital

“Despite its somewhat crude special effects and superlatively wacky storyline, Night Tide, like Carnival of Souls and the surprisingly neglected work Incubus (1966) starring William Shatner, is a work that still holds up today.  Bordering the line between American cinematic art and B-grade schlock, and being of interest to Occultniks, Night Tide is surely a work that deserves to have a larger cult following than it actually has.” Soiled Cinema

nice guys don't work in hollywood curtis harrington

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Night Tide Lobby Card


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Wikipedia | IMDb | Related: Carnival of Souls

Posted by Will Holland

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