DVD Review: THE ASPHYX

DVD REVIEW : THE ASPHYX

REVIEWED BY: CINEMA LATTE

GRADE:  2 out of 5 reels

UPC:  738329090425

RELEASE DATE: April 17, 2012

DISC INFORMATION:  Blu-Ray, 1 disc, color, widescreen

RUNNING TIME:  86 minutes (UK version) / 99 minutes (US extended version)

SPECIAL FEAUTURES:  1. Mastered in HD from original UK 35mm negative and from original 35mm US film.  2.  Theatrical trailer.  3.  Photo gallery.

RATED: PG for blood and gruesome deaths

GENRE:  Sci-fi/Horror

STARRING: 

Robert Stephens  …  Sir Hugo Cunningham 

Robert Powell  …  Giles Cunningham 

Jane Lapotaire  …  Christina Cunningham 

Alex Scott  …  Sir Edward Barrett 

Ralph Arliss  …  Clive Cunningham 

Fiona Walker  …  Anna Wheatley 

Terry Scully  …  Pauper 

John Lawrence  …  Mason 

David Grey  …  Vicar 

Tony Caunter  …  Warden 

 

This 1973 British story opens with a body trapped between two collided cars, as officers work to free him.  Flash back several years to a widowed man bringing home his new fiancée to meet his children and adopted son at their England estate.  Hugo Cunningham is a tinkering inventor and member of a local scientific chapter of like-minded individuals.  While studying several cases of the dying, he and a couple of colleagues have managed to capture what they believe to be images of a human’s soul leaving their bodies.  While out filming a moving picture experiment, a freak accident costs the lives of his son and his fiancée.  Obsessed with his idea of filming spirits, Hugo uses an opportunity to film a public execution for a protest of human rights as a cover to further investigate his own studies.  Instead of finding the answers to life after death, Hugo uncovers the secret to immortality and longs to share his knowledge with his surviving children whether they want to or not.  As with every scientist before him, when playing God, there is a high price to pay.

 

This movie is really cheesy and hokey.  The tag line, “More than a myth, more than a maybe,” is even sillier than the movie.  The acting isn’t as cheesy as the special effects, but not better than B-movie quality, either. 

The special effects are basically a projected image of a hand puppet on the set.  That is the monster, or Asphyx, that everyone fears.  The blood effects are some of the fakest blood since the old spaghetti westerns.  Even the sulfuric acid is nothing more than face powder or powdered sugar thrown at the actor’s face.  The effects are laughable and given that this was 1973, it should have been better.

 

The story itself is good but still a B-movie quality.  The actors put in a B-movie performance with their over dramatizing movements and expressions.  One of the silliest moments is the choice in how they will attempt to kill the daughter.  Even the character questions the choice and is reassured that this is the only way. 

 

For a very silly and B-movie sci-fi this one has it all.  Suspense, supernatural, greedy scientist, and even a guinea pig.  It’s a dark tale about love, obsession, and man’s drive to beat death.  I think the US extended version is better because it goes deeper into the characters’ motives and gives more details about theories.  It is still a silly B-movie sci-fi story, though.

 

The only people I can see wanting to own this movie would be British Sci-fi fans of the early 1970s, fans of the Director—Peter Newbrook, or fans of the actors.  It’s not something that people will rush out to watch and it probably wouldn’t get a full viewing time on cable if the remote is handing to change the channel.  In a word, it’s silly.

 

That’s my review and I’m sticking with it.

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