THE ASPHYX-United Kingdom-1973
Directed by Peter Newbrook
Written by Brian Comport
Based on a story by Christina Beers and Laurence Beers
In 1982 I had been discharged from the United States Air Force and was living in Plattsburgh, a small town in upstate New York. I met a young man there who was the film critic for the local newspaper. We became good friends as it seemed that we were both fans of horror films. My friend owned an 8mm projector and every Friday night at a local bar whose name I cannot remember he would show a different film. Because of him I was able to see films such as Brides of Dracula, Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter and the film that is the subject of this review, The Asphyx.
The Asphyx can only be declared as a cautionary tale. If immortality were in our reach as it is for Sir Hugo Cunningham, would we be wise to accept it? As he photographs a person at the precise moment of death, Sir Hugo notices a dark smudge on three different photographs that were all taken with different equipment and at different times by different photographers. Hugo comes to the conclusion that the smudge is the person’s soul, or Asphyx; and that if he can trap it and control it that the person will become immortal.
The film raises the question of immortality and whether or not we have the right to achieve it; and if we do then at what price? We would never die, but we would watch as our loved ones pass away one by one until we are alone. I for one cannot say that I would want such a thing. What of remorse or guilt? Isn’t death supposed to be the final end to those emotions? The Asphyx asks these questions within its story line, but it leaves us to form our own conclusions. Personally, I feel that’s the best thing it could have done.
Looking back, after I left Plattsburgh I lost contact with my friend. I hope he is doing well. I miss those Friday nights with Dracula, Captain Kronos and of course, The Asphyx. I wonder if this review is my way of thanking him.
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