Neither the Sea Nor the Sand (1972)

Neither the Sea Nor the Sand (1972), directed by Fred Burnley.

Aka The Exorcism of Hugh.

What a eerie and unsettling little film. A romance/horror. I had never heard of it until I found it while browsing Susan Hampshire titles at Netflix.

Visiting the Isle of Jersey, a woman meets and falls in love with a brooding man who speaks elliptically about spirits and ghosts. It is a grand passion. He dies suddenly but their love reanimates his body and he returns to her. He continues to brood and does not speak, although she can hear his voice in her head. She's not imagining him; other people see him, too.

The film puts off the horror element as long as possible and it continues as a romance, although with that clinging and pathological type of love that becomes insanity. He tells her they don't have much time (for obvious reasons -- he's a corpse) and she must come with him. She resists and we go through a scary and distressing section when she tries to break the bond and he commits a murder. In the end love (or is it obsession?) is stronger than death.

I don't know who to recommend this to; collectors of the obscure and obliquely disturbing perhaps. I won't soon forget it. Love and death are always with us; what sort of story do we live in -- more romance or horror?

It is leisurely paced and matter-of-fact about the weirdness. The horror element is not very explicit or physical. Certain musical bits are wretchedly unsuitable. Susan Hampshire has a brief body double in a passion sequence.

Offscreen she is known for her efforts in dyslexia work and has often talked about her difficulty in reading and learning her parts.