Stars: Robert Stephens, Robert Powell
Directed by: Peter Newbrook
You ever watch a film that shits you up so much you stop watching it?
The Asphyx is one of those films, well one of only 2 movies that I've had to do that with in my entire life.
I was young though again to young to properly understand the film and just got terrified of the screaming ghost stuff that was going on, lol.
Made in 1973 it has great effects for its time but there's a problem with modern day releases. The american version is an inferior 35mm copy but longer. The UK version is shorter but a much better quality print. I've seen the most recent version that splices some of the inferior scenes back into the UK version.
It is a noticeable jump between the scenes when this happens.
The time is Victorian England Sir Hugo is part of a duo with Giles who are interested in death, ghosts and the afterlife. They come across a discovery that a photo taken at the right time of death will reveal a strange blurry shadow escaping from the body.
They believe it's the soul leaving the body, though Hugo is a tad skeptical over all of this. Later while he using a very early form of a camera to record family movies his wife and son unfortunately meet their demise to drowning in a boating accident.
Re-watching the film over he realizes that the dark blur is actually moving towards the target at the moment of death rather than leaving away. This is apparently from old Greek mythology a creature named the 'Asphyx' further research into this leads them to using a machine they built with phosphor stones and filming a man being hung for crimes and witnessing the same phenomena.
Later watching the film back they realize the beam caught the asphyx in it before it shorted out the men come to the conclusion that a persons asphyx my well indeed be caught or trapped possibly preventing their death.
they use newer equipment to successfully capture a guinea pigs asphyx, Hugo asks Giles to perform the experiment on him. He gets a great vault built so once he has trapped his asphyx he can seal it away so no one can ever free it once it's caught.
He uses an electric chair to kill himself, except slowly so Giles has sufficient time to capture his asphyx. Giles however needs help as it's a two man job and he gets his fiance to help out with capturing Hugo's. He offers them his blessing to get married if she does help out with the experiment, she agrees despite being horrified by the whole ensemble.
Christina ends up getting killed through a very bad sequence of events that lead up to them attempting to capture her asphyx. Hugo blames himself and insists on freeing his asphyx so he can actually die, Giles agrees so long as Hugo makes him immortal first.
Hugo doesn't know that Giles is tricking him and has removed the phosphor stones from the lamp so he can die when Hugo tries the experiment. Hugo realizes and tries to reverse the gasing of Giles but Giles manages to light a match and kills himself also destroying the equipment.
I'll leave it there as this is a decent enough film to warrant at least one watching especially if you are fan of old hammer horror stuff THN awards The Asphyx 3 out of 5 stars.