Neither the Sea Nor the Sand
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Recovering from a failed marriage, Anna Robinson (The Three Lives of Thomasina's Susan Hampshire) retreats to the haunting, eerie climes of the Isle of Jersey, where she finds fulfillment in an affair with lighthouse keeper George (The Pianist's Frank Finaly). But when death strikes, Anna finds herself inconsolable and longs for the arms of her lover... who unexpectedly returns from the dead, with a few macabre changes awaiting them both. A lyrical, poetic, undiscovered gem of '70s British horror, now available for the first time ever!
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Anna (Susan Hampshire) is on vacation in Jersey when she runs into Hugh (Michael Petrovitch), a dark-eyed native and the last of the Dabernon line along with his antisocial brother George (Frank Finlay). Anna and Hugh fall in love after a series of walks through rainy streets and windswept ruins, and Anna is all set to marry Hugh in Scotland and make a new life with him. It's too bad that right after that Hugh drowns in a tidal flat, and Anna is so distraught that she simply refuses to accept his death. It must have worked because Hugh appears, seemingly alive but much quieter, emotionally empty and physically cold. When Anna wants to talk with him, Hugh just stares, and after a few days it becomes apparent that Hugh is decomposing despite walking around. When George becomes so suspicious and afraid that he suggests that Anna takes spiritual steps to free Hugh's spirit from his rotting body things go South fast, and Anna is pushed towards a decision that will define her life.
There's a lot that could have been worked with here - the transience of "true" love, the strange relationship between the brothers, the landscape and history of Jersey, the fact that Hugh is the last of his line and could be kept on Earth by an ancestral pull to keep his family name alive, the hairy details of living decay - and maybe the novel this film is based on went into one or more of those things. Unfortunately the novel's author, Gordon Honeycombe, wrote the screenplay himself, so it's kind of hard to point the finger too many other places. This is a film that doesn't want the viewer to win - it infuriatingly skirts any interesting ideas or real development of what's there in favor of endless scenes of Anna and Hugh morosely walking around and talking about nothing in particular, the bare minimum of intellectual involvement, and an absolutely terrible music score, the particularly inane title track punctuating each sex scene and "meaningful" moment like a crotch rash. In the film's defense I will say that the wet-'n'-windy Jersey scenery is beautiful and appropriately desolate and that they tried to make the sex scenes between Anna and Hugh passionate and memorably explicit (though not graphic). I can't say that'll keep me from slapping Honeycombe and director Fred Burnley upside the head with a dead trout. I know that investigating the wide world of obscure horror movies is a crapshoot for quality but Neither the Sea Nor the Sand was a real loser, a soul-sapping experience that felt 10 hours too long despite only being 96 minutes. It's a reminder that, while everybody knows that just because something is popular doesn't mean you'll like it, just because something is obscure doesn't mean you'll like it, either.
This is not a story for people with a short attention span. If you appreciate sinking into the mood, and watching the visuals, and letting yourself get emotional in a love story, you may like it very much. This is why I gave it four stars. It gets points for originality - I know undead aren't original, but this story handles it in a very original way.
Most recent customer reviews
Beautfully filmed. (The picture quality was fine on my copy).
Saw it on tv once and never forgot it.Read more