BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Nov 23rd, 2013 •

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David Del Valle, in his supplemental taped interview with director Curtis Harrington, makes the point that NIGHT TIDE is like a Val Lewton film. People usually associate the film with CARNIVAL OF SOULS, made a year later. But NIGHT TIDE wasn’t released in the US till ’63, so it’s unlikely that CARNIVAL director Herk Harvey saw it before embarking on his film. Still, in terms of budget and lighting the comparison is understandable. But content-wise it’s CAT PEOPLE with fins.

The ‘artie’ supernatural tale was released on DVD many moons ago, and Kino’s BluRay has better contrast – particularly richer blacks – which is vital to the mood of the piece. There appears to be a little more wear on this restored print – nicks and such – and the sound has a bit more distortion. But considering the visual quality, and the wonderful extras, I’d trade off the DVD for this version if I were you. Plus the DVD image was window-boxed, whereas the BluRay presentation fills the standard wide screen TV screen. And the film’s haunting poster art graces the box cover, a better choice than that which adorned the DVD.

A young Dennis Hopper plays Johnny, an innocent sailor who meets an exotic, stand-offish woman named Mora (Linda Lawson) at an amusement park. She works evenings as a bogus mermaid in a side-show exhibit, but in reality she may indeed be descended from the denizens of the deep, and might also be in imminent danger of getting lured back to their domain.

Hopper, in the tight white sailor’s outfit made especially for him, is so reminiscent of Kenneth Anger’s work that a comparison is unavoidable. Anger and Harrington were experimental filmmakers in the 50s, and Anger was displeased when Harrington made the transition to Hollywood and made-for-TV features, but we’re the luckier for it.

Roger Corman got the film off the ground, so we can chalk up another career to the King of the B’s. IMDB says the budget was $25,000, but in the Del Valle interview Harrington says it was $50,000, with another $25,000. deferred.

Harrington’s eerie pre-ALIEN excursion, QUEEN OF BLOOD, also launched by Corman, also with Hopper on board, was the director’s second impressive movie, again despite obvious budgetary limitations. In fact, there are subtextural manipulations with gender roles in TIDE and BLOOD that show up again, in their own way, in Ridley Scott’s film.

The direction is a bit heavy-handed, but at the same time the mood is served by this approach. Peter Lorre was originally envisioned for the role of Mora’s creepy, possessive protector, but held out for too much dough, and the role went to Gavin Muir, who is not only excellent, but the most convincing member of the cast. In fact, I’m not sure Lorre would have served the film as well.

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