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The Asphyx (1973)

Robert Powell , Robert Stephens , Peter Newbrook  |  NR |  DVD
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Powell, Robert Stephens, Jane Lapotaire, Alex Scott, Ralph Arliss
  • Directors: Peter Newbrook
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Kino Lorber films
  • DVD Release Date: April 17, 2012
  • Run Time: 83 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0074V617E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,929 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice Ironic British Horror Gem December 2, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"The Asphyx" a/k/a "The Horror of Death" is one of the most original and yet most 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. 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.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-made nonsense, earnestly performed. June 15, 1999
By A Customer
In 1870's England a scientist discovers that the spirit of death - "The Asphyx" of the title - can be trapped as it tries to enter the body at the moment of death. Using primitive photography and a chemical spotlight, he attempts to immortalise his nearest and dearest by trapping their individual asphyx as it appears. A thoughtful,and for the most part effective tale, with some genuinely ghoulish moments courtesy of the impressive (for their time) special effects. Robert Stephens gets a little frantic at times, especially in the last half-hour, but the original plot and a sinister twist in the tail raise a smile and ensure that the film won't be easily forgotten.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A first rate sci-fi horror film for thinking people. February 2, 2013
Format:Amazon Instant Video
This relatively unknown film is superb, and is a must-see for anyone who enjoys an interesting and original premise, solid acting and a satisfying viewing experience.

The story is set in 1870 London, where a physician accidently captures a photograph of some type of entity entering a person upon their death. He concludes that if this entity (known as an `Asphyx') can be captured before it enters the dying person, immortality will result. He pursues this idea, with unintended consequences.

Everything about this film is top flight. Excellent cinematography, spot on costumes and period sets, very solid acting and an intriguing storyline characterize this highly entertaining film. Those who have sufficient depth to appreciate well-crafted and thoughtful sci-fi/horror films will enjoy this movie; especially those who like the early Hammer films and other `thinking person's" British sci-fi films.

It's a shame that two non-reviews sullied the film by giving it one star, when neither non-reviewer actually watched it. Ignore them and treat yourself to a really well done film. And if you do watch it, pay particular attention to the first few minutes; it seems to have nothing to do with the film, until the shocking ending. Highly recommended.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Asphyx - Henstooth Video (2009) Edtion February 26, 2010
This is a review of the Henstooth Video (2009) Edition
This movie is very unusual and is well worth watching. I would highly recommend it to people who enjoy Hammer or similar movies. Please see other reviews for a full plot out line.
The main point of this review is to report on the quality of the new DVD edition. It has both bad and good points.
Bad point:
1. No extra's apart from chapter selection.
2. The picture is not restored and has a number of blemishes.
Good Points:
1. This is the full length 99 minute uncut version of the film.
2. The video has an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 which means that you actually get the full picture on this edition.
3. Although the picture is not restored it is not that bad and is quite watchable.
Overall I recommend this DVD. It is much better then previous editions and I highly recommend it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unforgettable treat. September 27, 1999
By A Customer
A co-worker and I were just discussing unusual films last week, and I immediately thought of "The Asphyx", though no one else in the office had even heard of it. They're all younger than me so I guess it's excusable. I haven't seen this on the small screen yet, but did enjoy it during its initial release in 1972 on the big screen. I thought it to be thought provoking in the way of classic horror films, when the protagonist discovers (too late) that he shouldn't have been messing around with things like immortality. I've not seen or heard of it since then but I haven't forgotten it either, nor will I. A genuinely scary, gruesome movie with a moral comes along not too often. I highly recommend it and intend to buy it on DVD when it's released!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, boring, boring
Oh, how boring. Set in Victorian times, the acting in this movie is so-so, the change from the good quality to bad quality video is jarring, the music did nothing to set the... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Swampkat
2.0 out of 5 stars Kind of dumb. Old
Kind of dumb. Old. Again...Amazon doesn't date their movies. If they did, people would realize that almost all the 'free' Prime programming is OLD, Foreign, and really not that... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Valerie L. Pierce
4.0 out of 5 stars I took a chance with this movie, and it ...
I took a chance with this movie, and it was very enjoyable. Well done -it kept me interested and guessing all throughout the film.
Published 23 days ago by Meichi L.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Dark Shadows meets steam punk.
Published 25 days ago by Mark Holm
4.0 out of 5 stars Death by Guinea Pig!
Yes! The only time you will cheer on a guinea pig in the act of a
Published 28 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 29 days ago by Nancy DeBacker
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting.
While old and in need of some restoration, this is a really good sci-fi movie. I really like the story. It's too bad they don't make movies like this any longer.
Published 1 month ago by John Meissner
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Movie
Published 1 month ago by Jeremy Doupe
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting at first
The plot was quite interesting and original...... for 3/4 of the movie.
But it became un-believable when (SPOILER alert)...

... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bookworm
2.0 out of 5 stars Good thing it was free...
Acting was atrocious. Couldn't watch more than 5-10 minutes before giving up.
Published 1 month ago by Kaitelan
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