Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! NIGHT TIDE (directed by Curtis Harrington and starring Dennis Hopper, 1961)

For once TCM decided to air something beneficial during prime time 'stead of the umpteenth rerun of GIGI, and the Turner lackeys really did themselves good by running this particular bit of under-the-radar cinema that would usually get stuck on their schedule inna middle of the night when only the pervos and other assorted sickies are up and at it. And as far as mooms with a reputation go NIGHT TIDE can't be beat whether it's due to the occasional name-dropping praise from the likes of the fine folks at PSYCHOTRONIC VIDEO amongst other post-Kael visionaries, or even Parker Tyler citing it as an example of a feature-length avant garde excursion that didn't quite jibe in his might-be-infamous UNDERGROUND FILM book. Anyway you stoke it NIGHT TIDE was one of them flicks that I wouldn't pass up an opportunity getting an eyeful of, and thanks to the powers that be that chance came a lot faster'n I would've ever thunk!

Unlike many of you faithful readers, I am not a humongous Dennis Hopper maniac by any stretch of the imagination. Keeping that in mind I shall courageously 'fess up to the fact that I enjoyed his aw shucks portrayal of Johnny, the sheepish sailor who falls real hard-like for this carnival sideshow mermaid played by Linda Lawson. She's not quite attractive in that drool and dribble way but creepy enough as the designated psycho case who believes that she actually is a siren of ancient legend who lures her lovers to a watery grave (two down and Johnny ready to go). But it's not like the rest of the denizens of the amusement park world are any more mentally balanced from Captain Murdoch, the park owner who found "Mora" as a child on a Greek island to the sterotypically haggish fortune teller, but all of these goonish aspects mix well into a rather offbeat yet pleasurable film which just oozes that early-sixties ambiance that continues to envelop me fifty years after the fact.

Downplayed and Kennedy-era cool, you can tell that this was created by an accomplice of Kenneth Anger especially after espying the definitely expressionist dream sequence which only makes me wish someone'd upload Harrington's early underground filmage onto Youtube for all of us to peruse. (A swift aside, the role of the strange blond woman who sporadically appears adding an even creepier aura to this film is portrayed by none other than the widow of famed rocket scientist Jack Parsons who went by the moniker of [Marjorie] Cameron, a truly mystical being who not only acted alongside Harrington in Anger's INAGURATION OF THE PLEASURE DOME but was also the subject of a short directed by Harrington which was titled what else but CAMERON!)

Yeah, NIGHT TIDE can get quite messy and the ending had me quite confused (still can't fathom what actually did go on during the scuba diving scene!) but it sure satisfies here in my aged state the same way it would've had it been shown on your local UHF station some hot Summer-esque Sunday afternoon in between forages through piles of old rock mags and the LITTLE RASCALS short that used to fill out the hour until THE OUTDOOR SPORTSMAN. Naturally I sure wish I woulda eyeballed NIGHT TIDE back when these kinda films were really hitting me in a young 'n impressionable way but hey, I guess I hafta wait for all good things to make their way into my psyche so better now as an old turd 'n never, savvy?


The Hound said...

For a good obit and funny account of Kenneth Anger's behavior at Harrington's funeral check out this:

Christopher Stigliano said...

Yeah, I read that 'un a year or so back...I'll never be able to watch THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN the same way again!