Sunday, November 15, 2009

'Night Tide' is as mysterious as the sea

Night Tide (1961)
Starring: Dennis Hopper, Linda Lawson, Gavin Muir, and Luana Anders
Director: Curtis Harrington
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

When Johnny, a young U.S. Navy sailor on leave (Hopper), meets Mora (Lawson) in a coffee house, it's love at first sight. But is the air of mystique that seems to hover thickly around her the result of her lonely childhood and curious job as a sideshow attraction, or is it as her guardian (Muir) claims--she's not human, but is in truth a sirine, and sooner or later she will lead Johnny to a watery death.

"Night Tide" is an atmospheric, low-key film that straddles the boundary between horror and suspense. Although a bit on the slow side, it is carried along by the wide-eyed naivete of Hopper's pure-hearted character as he is constantly contrrasted with the friendly yet strange attraction operators on a Venice Beach amusement pier. The ever-growing mystery of Mora will also keep viewers watching. It's also interesting to see Luana Anders in a part that's a bit different than the creepy sort of characters she usually plays. In fact, I have nothing but praise for all the actors that appeared in the film... everyone comes across as very natural and believable.

The only real complaint I can muster with the film is that I don't like the ending. It's in keeping with the rest of the film, but I would like to have seen something stronger and a little more definate. Heck, to be perfectly honest, I think I would have liked to have seen a happier ending. Still, it's an interesting film.