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The Asphyx (1972)

PG | | Horror, Sci-Fi | February 1973 (USA)
English country squire Sir Hugo Cunningham searches for immortality by literally 'bottling up' the Spirit of the Dead, or Asphyx.


Peter Newbrook


Christina Beers (story), Laurence Beers (story) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Robert Stephens ... Sir Hugo Cunningham
Robert Powell ... Giles Cunningham
Jane Lapotaire ... Christina Cunningham
Alex Scott ... Sir Edward Barrett
Ralph Arliss ... Clive Cunningham
Fiona Walker ... Anna Wheatley
Terry Scully Terry Scully ... Pauper
John Lawrence John Lawrence ... Mason
David Grey David Grey ... Vicar
Tony Caunter Tony Caunter ... Warden
Paul Bacon Paul Bacon ... 1st Member


Hugo is a brilliant mid-Victorian 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. Written by James C. Allen <spgcs@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Difference Between Life And Death See more »


Horror | Sci-Fi


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


A good U.S. version of this film has never been found. Only UK versions that are shorter with great quality. DVD releases of this movie have combined HD footage mastered from the 35mm negative with SD footage mastered from a U.S. release print of inferior quality resulting in significant shifts in image quality. You do get to see the entire extended version of the movie this way. See more »


Toward the end of the film Robert Powell picks up a glass beaker. It has the Pyrex stamp on it and its volume , stated as 600ml! Victorian England used imperial (non-metric) measures, and Pyrex was not invented until 1915. See more »


Sir Hugo Cunningham: I obey God's will, my friend, my old friend, my eternal and everlasting friend...
See more »

Alternate Versions

The film was originally shot in Todd-AO 35, a wide-screen process which is normally viewed at 2.35:1. The 1995 UK video featured a much shorter print and missed around 12 minutes of footage including dialogue scenes, an anti-hanging protest before the execution, and the removal of a scene showing the now-immortalized guinea pig being released from its cage. The 2004 Anchor Bay UK DVD features the same print and is presented in an anamorphic 1.85:1 ratio and also uses a pan & scan technique, thus cropping much of the print into a false version of wide-screen. The 2010 Odeon DVD features both the shorter and longer original prints in genuine widescreen. See more »


Featured in Movie Macabre: The Horror of Death See more »

User Reviews

Intriguing film about a scientific discovers an aura which can be attracted at the moment of dying and trapped , conferring immortality
10 June 2018 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Nineteenth century , England , a mad doctor is studying death when he discovers the Asphyx , an obscure supernatural power , it is the key to immortality on the subject . Nice and enjoyable terror fim made in Hammer or Amicus style with a distinguished cast , creepy scenes and fine interpretation . This eerie movie deals with a man : Robert Stephens who attempts to trap the spirit of death but things go awry when he practices his experlments with his descendants : Arliss, Jane Lapotaire and adopted son , Robert Powell .

Scary picture with a promising notion in which a scientist discovers an aura that surrounds persons just before they die ; however , his irresponsability in unleashing the rare entity on the world brings a swarm of unforeseen consequences , ominous distresses , irreversible problems and grisly murders . There is an interesting as well as riveting glimpse into Victorian psychological research with engaging theories, though does take some incredible happenings , even by the the standards of this peculiar genre . Strong cast formed by good Brit actors such as Robert Stephens giving a theatrical delivery as a doctor delves deeper into his research finding extraordinary surprises , Jane Lapotaire as his daughter , Fiona Walker and Robert Powell .

It displays a weird but adequate score by Bill McGuffie . As well as an attractive production design by the great designer John Stoll . Appropriate and evocative cinematography by the prestigious Freddie Young who has a notorious career as cameraman such as Salomon and Queen Sabah, Ryan' s daughter, Lawrence Arabia , Doctor Zhivago , Lord Jim . This high-class terror /SciFi motion picture was compellingly directed by Peter Newbrook , being his only film . Newbrook had an important career in the camera and electric department , as a cinematographer and as a producer , including titles as Crucible of terror, Saturday night out , Press for time , That kind of girl, The green scarf , Green Helmet , 4 horsemen of Apocalypse , Anastasia , Farewell to arms , Deep blue sea , The Sandwich man , Vampires , among others . Rating : 7/10 , above average. Well worth seeing for the terror buffs . Essential and indispensable watching .

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Release Date:

February 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Horror of Death See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Glendale Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Super Quadraphonic Sound)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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