Director: Fred Burnley
Redemption/Image Entertainment

Scripted by British television newsreader Gordon Honeycombe and based on his same-name novel, NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND is one of the more minimalist and rather obscure horror films to come out of the U.K. in the early 1970s. Produced by Tony Tenser’s celebrated Tigon company, it has for the most part remained unseen in the U.S. after its brief 1974 theatrical run from the long defunct International Amusements Corp. Redemption presents this very strange ghost/love story on home video for the second time in this country, as it was previously released on DVD through Image Entertainment in 2007.

Along the rocky shores of the remote Isle of Jersey, blonde Anna (Susan Hampshire) meets an outspoken young lighthouse keeper named Hugh (Michael Petrovitch). Estranged from her husband, Anna falls deeply for Hugh – and vice versa – making passionate love and flying to Scotland for a romantic getaway. There, Hugh seemingly has a sudden heart attack, and when Anna comes back with help, her lover is pronounced dead by the local doctor. Later that evening, Hugh walks back into her life, so Anna assumes his death was a mistake, but he’s not the same. Speechless and constantly staring, Hugh is now an unearthly apparition of his former self.

Slowly paced but unusual, scenic and engaging enough, NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND has a number of ambiguous plot points, such as a futile location transaction from Jersey to Scotland, or hints at Hugh resembling a long-dead ancestor in a painting (is he actually a family ghost?). Like in Bob Clark’s DEATHDREAM, Hugh returns to his loved one after being pronounced dead, and despite his unusual and dangerous behavior (he does end up murdering) and rotting features, Anna is in total denial until it’s too late. As Anna, Hampshire’s performance holds the film together, with her character becoming one with her zombified lover before the climax, even walking in a trance-like state at one point. Petrovitch’s deadpan approach fits Hugh well (horror fans might remember the actor from Kim Novak’s segment of TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS) and second-billed Frank Finlay has a very small part as his stuffy, over-religious brother. Finlay has one of the most memorable scenes in the picture, setting fire to Hugh’s hand to prove his sub-human condition and fanatically dictating that he must be taken to a priest for an exorcism.

Redemption's new DVD appears to be the of the same print source used for the Image release of several years ago. Here, NEATHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND is in a satisfying transfer, presenting the film in a suitable 1.78:1 widescreen ratio with anamorphic enhancement. Colors are pretty strong and picture detail is very good for the most part, with only some slightly darker scenes and several minor print blemishes towards the end of the film. The English language mono track also comes off very well. A still gallery includes various lobby cards, behind-the-scenes pics, as well as video covers and poster art. Trailers for other Redemption DVD releases round out the extas. (George R. Reis)