Saturday, October 20, 2018

NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND (1972) movie review

Neither the Sea Nor the Sand (1972) d. Fred Burnley (UK) (110 min)

Upon meeting handsome lighthouse keeper Hugh (Michael Petrovitch) while on vacation on Jersey Island, Anna (Susan Hampshire) decides to leave her loveless marriage and dives headlong into a passionate love affair. Unfortunately for both of them, the young man collapses during an afternoon seaside stroll and is pronounced dead by the local sawbones, only to rise in the morning as though nothing had happened. But something has happened; the question at hand is whether Anna is willing to keep her new lover at any cost.

I’d not heard much about this slow-burn genre effort, except for seeing it listed years ago in Phil Hardy’s Encyclopedia of Horror Movies. Having finally acquired a copy and with no expectations except a few friends declaring it “worthwhile,” NtSNtS is decidedly one of the more curious genre efforts I’ve experienced this month, if not this year. While it traffics in supernatural subject matter (a corpse returning to life and ambling about), not much effort is expended in actually scaring or disturbing the viewer. Not even like a swing and a miss, but rather that it was never the point.

More of a meditation on loneliness and grief than your standard walking dead flick (although our reanimated gent does bump off one character in a didn’t-see-that-coming auto accident), with a somber, brooding atmosphere hanging over the proceedings throughout. That said, it's a perfect candidate to spring on your doomed love/romance novel-addicted friends who swear they don't like zombie movies.

Fine performances, including Frank Finlay as Hugh’s uptight older brother, and rural coastal settings keep viewer interest for the most part, but it’s unlikely to satisfy anyone looking for escapist chills and thrills. Screenplay by Gordon Honeycombe, based on his novel, with “additional dialogue” by Rosemary Davies.


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