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  Neither the Sea Nor the Sand My Forbidden Lover
Year: 1972
Director: Fred Burnley
Stars: Susan Hampshire, Frank Finlay, Michael Petrovitch, Michael Craze, Jack Lambert, Betty Duncan, David Garth, Anthony Booth
Genre: Horror, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Anna Robinson (Susan Hampshire) is holidaying without her husband on the island of Jersey when she wanders onto one of the beaches and across a causeway towards a lighthouse, though it is closed to the public when she reaches it. However, there is a man standing there by the sign, Hugh Dabernon (Michael Petrovitch), who strikes up a conversation with her and soon they are walking back to the shore, getting to know one another. One thing leads to another and soon Anna has fallen in love, deciding not to return to her spouse. Nothing could tear this couple apart, could it?

Gordon Honeycombe is an interesting chap, and the top interesting fact not many people were aware of about this former newsreader was that he wrote a horror movie, and Neither the Sea Nor the Sand was that film. Actually, he had written the novel it was based on and gone on to adapt it for the big screen, although this was not your traditional zombie movie by any account. It's more like a ghost story, though you would never know it from that first half hour or so which resembles some Mills and Boon paperback come to stilted life.

After that opening act, it doesn't exactly turn into Night of the Living Dead either, with a tragic twist designed to explore the limits and possibilities of love. Before we get there, Anna is shown around the most picturesque parts of Jersey (ten years before TV cop Bergerac made the place a popular tourist destination for Brits) and then is introduced to Hugh's prissy brother George (Frank Finlay), who is outraged when Hugh takes Anna upstairs for a spot of postprandial lovemaking in their late mother's bed, then demands that she be gone by the next day.

Yes, there are love scenes, and you may be wondering if society really needed to see that nice Susan Hampshire acting out a shuddering, lower lip-biting orgasm, but that's what you get here in a bizarre misjudging of tone. Yet what is that tone? Mainly a misty-eyed romanticism, one that is meant to turn tearjerking in its latter stages, although there were only a few viewers that this really worked any magic upon. Nevertheless, they are what makes up the cult for it today, having caught it on late night television over the years and been captivated by its sad and curious plotting.

In spite of its careful attempts to make this believable, as far as a zombie love story can be believable, there's an awkward quality to Neither the Sea Nor the Sand as if hardly anybody involved was sure if this would be accepted or not, and indeed the reviews were scornful, but there's an innocence about its intentions that makes it strangely memorable. There is at least some attractive location photography, and though Petrovitch struggles with some improbably pretentious dialogue (when he speaks, that is), Hampshire does carry the film with an earnest but not discomfitting style, even when she is welcoming the now-cold Hugh into her bed in a scene which wisely does not go further, not that we see at any rate. It's still not a great film, either as shocker or romance, but it is unusual enough to merit attention for those looking for something different. Music by Nachum Heiman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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