The Asphyx (1972)

“If It Were In Your Power … Would You Sacrifice Your Wife … Your Children For Immortality?” Definitely not for all tastes, The Asphyx (AKA The Horror of Death) is an offbeat British horror film directed by Peter Newbrook that features Robert Stephens as brilliant Victorian-era scientist “Sir Hugo Cunningham,” who loses everything in his quest to achieve immortality. The totally obsessed Hugo discovers a way to isolate and imprison the “asphyx” or spirit of the dead (the thing looks exactly like a refugee from Ghostbusters!) – thereby rendering the subject immortal. As you can probably guess, nothing good is going to come of this morbid quest. Robert Powell (who you will remember as the title character in the critically acclaimed 1977 miniseries Jesus of Nazareth) portrays Hugo’s adopted son and reluctant sidekick “Giles,” while Jane Lapotaire is Hugo’s daughter and Giles’ love interest “Christina.” The Asphyx is full of creepy (and sometimes totally ridiculous) scenes such as the boat accident, the public hanging, Hugo in the electric chair, Hugo spending the night in the casket and, of course, the guillotine. Oh yeah, and there’s this immortal guinea pig that manages to wreak some havoc! The ending itself is truly bizarre and worth the price of admission. Anyone who believes that immortality is a desirable aspiration should definitely watch this film. Newbrook (1920-2009) served as second unit photographer on David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962).

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