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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.

Director:

Peter Newbrook

Writers:

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

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 ... Warden
Paul Bacon Paul Bacon ... 1st Member
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Immortality ... what would you sacrifice for it? See more »

Genres:

Horror | Sci-Fi

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

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

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Super Quadraphonic Sound)

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

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

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User Reviews

 
Nice Ironic British Horror Gem
2 December 2005 | by aimless-46See all my reviews

"The Asphyx" a/k/a "The Horror of Death" is one of the most original yet unheralded English horror films. Set in 1870's England, aristocrat Sir Hugo (Robert Stephens) accidentally photographs an entity (mythological name Asphyx) entering a person's body at their death. Sir Hugo theorizes that each person has their own Asphyx and that if the entity can be imprisoned outside the body, the person will be immortal. Can you guess what happens next?

From the physiological standpoint, the concept is not that different from the idea of vampires and zombies; with the same need to suspend disbelief to really enjoy things. Although like the implications of time travel, half the fun is speculating on the ramifications of the idea.

There is a pleasant and very haunting score and the story has a nice touch of irony as Sir Hugo's first experimental subject is his eventual downfall.

The real strength of this film is the production design. Considerable effort went into the meticulously constructed sets and there was much attention to detail in the various scientific apparatus and instruments. While the historical accuracy of these advanced devices is suspect, they are certainly no harder to accept than the basic premise. All looks great on the big screen and is probably fine on the letter boxed DVD, but the VHS tape is of marginal quality and the 4x3 aspect ratio does not do justice to the frame.

Few films from the era that did a better job of filling their frames than "The Asphyx" (credit to Academy award winning cinematographer Freddie Young), but this just magnifies the problems of the full-screen version. It appears that the 1989 Interglobal Home Video trimmed nine minutes from the film and was recorded at the LP speed, so you should avoid that one if possible.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.


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