Neither The Sea Nor The Sand 1972
Ah, zombies. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t get rid of the buggers when you realise you might have made a mistake wishing ‘em back from the dead. It’s that age old story – girl meets boy, boy likes girl. Boy takes girl to Scotland, boy mucks about in the surf, boy drops down dead. Girl understandably devastated, boy comes back from the dead. Much high-jinks ensue.
That’s about the size of Neither The Sea Nor The Sand, a peculiar little Brit horror which many had thought was consigned to the “dodgy tenth generation VHS copy” file (of which I have many), as it only came out on video once in the 80s, everyone couldn’t make up their minds about it and it effectively disappeared without trace. But now, thanks to the magic of DVD, Neither The Sea Nor The Sand is available for anyone to watch. Whether “anyone” would actually want to watch it is another story.
To say that Neither The Sea Nor The Sand is a “curio” would be understating it somewhat. Mainly a love story about the doomed affair between married woman Anna (the ever gorgeous Susan Hampshire) and young artistic type Hugh (Michael Petrovitch), about half way through it dips it toe into horror territory, when the young chap keels over for no reason on a beach, is pronounced dead, but then promptly reappears, seemingly alive, at the cottage door.
Why is never really explained – is it because of her love for him, his love for her, or some kind of all-consuming passion that somehow manages to defy the laws of physics? There’s even a vague nod to an idea that it might be something to do with Hugh’s long family history. But one of the film’s strengths is that it never tries to explain what’s going on – the sole idea behind it is to ask a very simple question – if you, as a grieving lover, got your wish to have them back, would it really be such a good idea? It’s the monkey’s paw, without the monkey.
It’s far more rewarding, in fact, to keep an eye on the characters around the couple – Frank Finlay as Hugh’s’s camp-as-Christmas brother (“Doing that in mother’s bed – it’s disgusting!”), Michael “Ben from Doctor Who” Craze as Hugh’s best mate who he doesn’t really like (a character Craze played in a variety of Brit horrors), and Jack Lambert as a doctor who is a firm believer that when someone’s time has come, that’s it (cheers for that, Doc).
But that said, there are some unnerving moments – dead Hugh cannot speak, so his voice sort of drifts in with a vague echo. The death of a further main character is quite a shock, and after 80 minutes of vague nods towards the body horror going on, Anna’s final realisation of what has really happened (“You really are dead!”), complete with a quick zoom in on the now obviously dead Hugh, almost makes the film.
These days, zombie love stories are ten a penny, so I suppose we should give Honeycombe a bit of kudos for being there first. And although not particularly exciting, Neither The Sea Nor The Sand is lovely to look at and poses some interesting questions. But it would have been far more suited to being a one hour television drama.
Last updated: July 8, 2010
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