By Brett Stillo
The early 1960s were a great time for nightmares. This was an era of surreal psycho-thrillers filmed in eerie contrasts of black and white. One Step Beyond, Boris Karloff’s Thriller, and the one and only Twilight Zone flickered on TV screens while neighborhood movie theaters and drive-ins were haunted by low-budget creep-outs like Carnival of Souls, The Mask, Confessions of an Opium Eater, and Curtis Harrington’s eerie Night Tide.
Night Tide, which will play at San Francisco’s Balboa Theatre on Wednesday, January 13th, is less of a horror movie and more like a weird dream. Harrington, a colleague of Kenneth Anger who directed several '50s avant-garde short films, orchestrates a gothic beatnik fable set amid the crumbling ruins of a dreamland known as Venice, California. The shadows of Film Noir drape over this desolate landscape. You can almost picture the film's "hero" Dennis Hopper turning a corner and running into a haggard Tom Neal from Detour. The destinies of these two downbeat characters may be different, but they seem to be on similar paths.