The Asphyx (1972)

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‚Ķ

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!