The Asphyx (1973) Peter Newbrook

The Asphyx (1973)
Genre: Sci-Fi | Horror
Country: UK | Director: Peter Newbrook
Language: English | Subtitles: None
Aspect ratio: Cinemascope 2.35:1 | Length: 98mn Extended Cut
Bdrip H264 Mkv - 1280x544 - 23.976fps - 3.28gb
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0069738/

Hugo is a brilliant turn-of-the-century scientist-loved and respected by his family and friends, admired by his colleagues. But he is a man quickly becoming obsessed with a curious and frightening question... what is the mysterious apparition found in the photographs of his dying subjects? Hugo brings to a family boating party his newest invention-a motion picture camera. The party quickly turns into a disaster as he captures on film the tragic drowning of his wife and son. When the film is replayed later, the same ghostlike presence appears. It flies towards his son, and vanishes inside his dying body. Has Hugo discovered The Asphyx, the spirit of the dead described in Greek mythology? A spirit which lives in constant agony, not finding rest until it takes possession of a human body? Could the spirit, if captured, become the key to immortality? Hugo is compelled to find the answers. It is a ghoulish search, with eternally haunting results.

Avoiding death and what happens when we die have been recurring themes throughout all art forms since the dawning of time. Despite the fact that there are a lot of films that handle similar themes, The Asphyx stands out for it's original and intriguing exaction. The film hasn't gained itself the best reputation in the three decades since its release, and it was apparently ignored upon its introduction to the general public. This isn't surprising - The Asphyx takes elements from supernatural horror and there's a little bit of sci-fi involved, but selling this film couldn't have been easy as there's no way to pigeon hole it. The plot focuses on Hugo Cunningham - a man who discovers that when we die, what's called an 'Asphyx' appears. After conducting a few experiments, Hugo presupposes that if one were to capture this Asphyx, then that person would never be able to die. He then proceeds to test the procedure on himself, and after becoming immortal decides he wants his young assistant and daughter; who want to get married, to become immortal also…

The Asphyx is a British film set in Victorian times, and director Peter Newbrook does an excellent job of producing the period setting. The film was obviously made on a budget, and as such it doesn't exactly compete with some of the bigger budget films set around the same time; but still the director gets the point across. The special effects are a little hokey, but they work really well. The main standout where the effects are concerned are with the 'Asphyx' itself, and personally I'd much rather the effects shown here than the CGI rubbish we have nowadays. The acting is decent, with Robert Stephens being the main standout in the lead role, and receiving good support from Robert Powell. Jane Lapotaire is something of a weak link in my opinion as she's a little flat, but it's not too important. The film has a great premise, but in order for a premise to work, it needs a good plot too and this film certainly has that. The film is not predictable for most of its duration, and the drama between the central characters is always interesting enough to hold the audience's attention. The ending is both haunting and memorable, and overall; it has to be said that The Asphyx is a film that deserves more wide recognition!

The extended version included here clocks in at 1:38, twelve minutes longer than the theatrical version. The extra footage was culled from an inferior American print, and includes about ten additional or extended scenes. They are not that hard to spot, as the quality of the image is lower in the reclaimed footage, being quite muddy and gray. Nevertheless, it's clearly indicated on the disc that there are quality issues with the extra footage, so that's not a huge problem, and it's nice that diehard fans can view a version that they've probably not seen before. Most of the segments appear to be exposition cut for time, and only one bit reveals anything that was mysterious in the shorter version. Namely, the contents of an envelope that were implied before are here explicit. In total, the additional footage doesn't add much to the film, but nor does it take away.

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