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The Asphyx

3.2 out of 5 stars 142 customer reviews

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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.

Special Features

None.

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.)
  • 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: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0074V617E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #117,980 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Only-A-Child VINE VOICE on 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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Format: Amazon 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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Having seen both the All Day and Redemption Films releases of this 1973 cult creeper, I must say I'm torn over which to recommend. The restored picture utilized by Redemption-- particularly stunning on Blu-ray-- is nearly flawless, adding depth, detail and dazzling vibrancy to Freddie Young's sumptuous photography that's almost indiscernible watching the older, comparatively drab All Day version. In addition, Redemption offers theirs in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) while All Day's is letterboxed. However, it isn't a slam dunk for Redemption because the print they've chosen to present is the truncated U.K. edit (86 mins.) as opposed to All Day's, which gives us the film intact, honoring its extended U.S. theatrical running time of 99 minutes (effectively enhancing character background and providing a steadier, more convincing dramatic framework for Sir Hugo's descent into madness). Redemption does include the extra 13 minutes, but as a separate feature in unremastered form-- a decidely less immersive experience. For fans, a tough call (I opted for both). Movie rates 3 1/2 stars; distributors' efforts combined, 4.
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Format: DVD
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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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I had never heard of this movie before this, so I was naturally curious to see what it was all about. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I quite liked it (it's a great addition to my collection).

I wouldn't exactly classify it as horror or science fiction, it belongs somewhere in the middle. The story is an advisory of sorts, don't muck about with powers you know nothing about. Unfortunately, when tempted, man will investigate, experiment, and seek to do things he shouldn't. The boob in question, scientist Sir Hugo Cunningham (Robert Stephens), is utterly fascinated with parapsychology. He has a morbid preoccupation with dying and the notion of capturing a photo of the soul as it leaves the body. Using the `smudges' evidenced on only 3 photos, Sir Hugo announces this as conclusive verification, his theory is sound.............but he needs further proof to satisfy family and colleagues. "It's all right. I won't resort to murder." He does, however, show up at a local hanging, photo equipment in hand, to gain additional confirmation. From that point on, a new plan surfaces. He wants to capture his asphyx and thus achieve immortality. Things don't run as smoothly as planned. The results are ironic and terribly sad.

Beautifully photographed by Oscar winning cinematographer Freddie Young, this movie is a stuffy but absorbing period piece. People take time for tea before experiments. They chat. There is no monster (per se) but the asphyx does shriek in an unnerving fashion. There are a couple of (tasteful) shocks. I watched the extended US cut. The additional scenes are a bit ragged but offer more information so it's definitely worth seeing over the shorter UK version, also included on this Blu-ray Disc.
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