Neither The Sea Nor The Sand (1972)

OCTOBER 14, 2009


As I watched Shocker on the big screen, the larger than life presentation magnified the film’s (only!) flaw - it just takes too long to get to what you’re there for. You think of Shocker, you think of fun, you think of rock songs, and you think of a killer going out of people’s bodies and into the TV. But there’s so much stuff to set up, damn near 45 minutes goes by before he even goes to the chair. Likewise, Neither The Sea Nor The Sand isn’t a BAD movie, but it’s half over by the time we get to what we’re here for, which is a horror movie.

See, in order for the film’s central tragedy (a doomed romance) to work, we have to know the folks involved in said tragedy. And in order to understand why the woman loves the guy so much, we need to know how unhappy she is in her current marriage. So all of that stuff takes time, precious time not spent on the guy coming back to life and killing folks while looking a lot like Andy from Deathdream. Once that part of the story takes over, the movie is a perfectly decent tragi-chiller. Not to sound sexist, but I think the film as a whole would appeal more toward older women (ones that like horror movies, obviously), as they could identify more with the romance stuff and not be as bored with it.

Also I couldn’t help but think of the similarities to (the superior) Zombie Honeymoon. Not only did they have an easier story to set up for the audience to sympathize with (a young couple on their honeymoon), but it also actually felt sad at the end. Here, the guy is almost straight up evil (he even kills his brother), whereas the guy in Honeymoon only ate people out of confusion/necessity to survive, and thus was easier to feel sorry for. Here our sympathy lies squarely with the woman, which makes it feel a bit more generic. A horror movie where a woman is menaced by a scary guy? Well I never!

Oddly the scariest part of the movie for me (other than the fact that Susan Hampshire looks a lot like what I imagine my landlord did before she got old and had about 500 facelifts) was a red herring scene where the guy keeps tempting fate by standing in between two cliff faces that are being bombarded with waves. As the water rushes in, it creates a sort of water-wall, which he keeps narrowly escaping from. I have a recurring nightmare where I am besieged by endless walls of water (often as I stand on presumably safe shores), this part unnerved me a bit. I actually spent a lot of the horror scenes laughing, especially when he kills his brother by forcing their truck off a cliff (he dives out, the brother plummets). I laughed because the truck lands and just sort of breaks up. Then they cut to the heroine for a few seconds, and then they quickly cut back to the truck, which (finally) explodes. It’s almost like they forgot that any car in a 1970s movie that goes off a cliff has to explode (or else you lose the audience) and went back to show it ‘splode so everyone can be satisfied and they can get back on with it.

The DVD has no extras beyond a still gallery. It’s also about 15 minutes shorter than promised, though I can’t find any evidence of stuff being cut, so this might just be some sort of error. And if it is, well, I don’t think I need 15 minutes more of the movie than I already got (that is, unless those minutes are comprised solely of trucks exploding). The picture quality is fine, but there’s a strange artifacting at around 1:24:00 that looks like double-exposed film. Kind of cool, actually.

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