Written & Directed by Curtis Harrington
Dennis Hopper .... Johnny
Linda Lawson .... Mora
Gavin Muir .... Murdock
Johnny is a navy man who hails from Denver, Colorado, enjoying some time on the coast and away from the poop deck. He stops into a swingin' little jazz club and double-fists beer until he finds the courage to approach Mora, the brunette across the room. She doesn't seem interested in the least, but she allows him to walk her home. He even scores a date with her for the next morning. She cooks him breakfast—fish, of all things, to go along with the ocean theme of her apartment. In fact, it even turns out that she works as a carnival attraction, strapping on a fake tail and playing a mermaid for quarter-ante gawkers.
As their relationship blossoms, we get beach combing, interpretive dance, lots of coffee and the added plot twist that all of Mora's previous boyfriends have been killed mysteriously. Mora is, of course, the prime suspect. Johnny investigates and turns up what even the police couldn't: Mora supposedly belongs to an ancient race of murderous sea creatures! Johnny, of course, refuses to believe this and opts to stay with her despite the warnings of a psychic tea reader, a carnie family, Mora's adopted guardian, and even Mora herself. When she really does try to kill him, we're not surprised. Johnny realizes it's time to reevaluate both his belief system and his choice in women.
This dull, dull fantasy is an actionless piece of “psychological terror.” The acting is decent enough, and it was great to see such a young Dennis Hopper, but ultimately his talents go to waste. No excitement, no intrigue, no thrills or chills: just a sailor, a mermaid, and a merry-go-round. For Hopper completists only. I know you're out there somewhere.
BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR: Jazz at the Blue Grotto; The Skipper; Carnival barkers; Beach blanket bongo; Hand of a thief; Drunken stupor; Homoerotic massage (“You want me to pound you later?”);
BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW: The title of this film comes from the last stanza of Edgar Allen Poe's Annabel Lee;
Black & White
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