Director: Peter Newbrook
Writers: Christina Beers (story), Laurence Beers (story)
Stars: Robert Powell, Robert Stephens and Jane Lapotaire
What they say: A philanthropist and amateur psychic researcher embarks on a fateful quest for immortality. Hugo Cunningham (Robert Stephens) has a morbid hobby of taking photographs of dying people, and this leads to his discovery of a nebulous spirit of the dead–known in mythology as the Asphyx–that appears (only visible on photographic plates) at the moment of death. Hugo becomes obsessed with capturing his own Asphyx and thus ensuring that he cannot die, but of course this is an ill-fated ambition that puts him on a ruinous path to destruction and death.
What I say: One of the last of the “old fashioned” horrors of the 70’s, The Asphyx invokes the feel of Hammer and Amicus, thus prematurely dating itself in the face of the 70’s new wave of horror like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Exorcist.
The Asphyx bombed and disappeared quickly and its video releases were spotty at best. This film has been considered “lost” in a way but Redemption has saved it from obscurity it a beautiful restored edition of the theatrical cut, and an extended cut with cut scenes added back in, but they are of a lesser quality. The added scenes don’t add much consisting mostly of extended discussions and bits of character info.
The film is about a man trying to become immortal by capturing his Asphyx, a spirit that arrives at the time of death, by capturing the entity one can become immortal. Naturally he succeeds, but when he tries to make members of his family immortal things go horribly wrong. The film has decent special effects and fine performances from most of the cast, but the film is slow. Not slow burn, building toward something, just slow. The film is not horrible, but it does drag quite a bit in the middle.
As I stated above the restoration looks great and I doubt the film has ever looked better. The sound is clear and involving. Extras include two versions of the film, the trailer and a photo gallery.
This review, written by me, also appears at About Heroes.