An offbeat curio from underground filmmaker Curtis Harrington, usually and incorrectly filed under Horror, albeit the director was committed to the genre (and got Universal to find a print of ‘lost’ film The Old Dark House.) Harrington’s early filmmaking career was in the Los Angeles underground scene where he made short films and worked with Kenneth Anger and Maya Deren. Novice sailor Dennis Hopper is on shore leave at Venice Beach and falls for the mermaid attraction at the carnival. Linda Lawson is a dark-haired beauty who’s been brought Stateside from a Greek island by an old sailor called Murdock and seems to be under the mysterious influence of a sinister older woman played by artist Marjorie Cameron, whose work was the subject of Harrington’s The Wormwood Star. More successful in its silent sequences, where the director’s influences (particularly Deren) are more clearly detected, than in the dialogue. However he does have the good taste to credit Poe here (Annabel Lee). Harrington worked on studio pictures with producer Jerry Wald and this was his own feature debut although it was held up for a couple of years.The music is by the estimable David (Laura) Raksin and there is a good supporting performance by Luana Anders, one of the very few of the Corman/Nicholson era not to have made the big time. The script was originally sold to Corman in 1956 as The Girl From Beneath the Sea. AIP were one of the distributors.When Jack Nicholson got his AFI lifetime award he cried during his speech, recalling the unfortunate actress Anders, who had died recently. Harrington rounded out his long career in horror/comedy by directing episodes of Dynasty and The Colbys. How bizarre.