61 Days of Halloween: The Asphyx (1973)


For an introduction to the concept of 61 Days of Halloween and a list of past titles please go here.

The Asphyx (1973)

As I did with the last post I would like to commend a distributor to start, I got this film also at Monster-Mania but this time at the Kino Lorber table. Kino’s catalogue is fairly diverse and they offer many silent gems, other classic, art house and foreign fare as well as horror. This release is part of a line called Redemption, so named for previously rare titles in the genre. The idea for the line is wonderful, even if this particular selection doesn’t quite work for me in many ways.

I forget where I saw it, and it may have been a later film, but an interest in capturing the exact moment of death is not a new one. However, it is an intriguing concept especially when the possibility exists to cheat it. The Asphyx is the spirit of the death, which is carrying the deceased across the mortal plain when the time comes.If one has no Asphyx, it is found, they can not die.

An obsessive pursuit of immortality is a good angle to play up. Where things start to go wrong occurs quite soon after the film starts, and quite often; such that the film does eventually lose me. It starts with cheats in the motion picture images that seem to show the Asphyx. The researcher having created motion picture recording is a clever plot element but the cuts in the image, that suggest new camera angles, are clearly cheats for we see the camera he used never moved. That’s a nitpicky complaint, but it starts the snowball effect on this film.

Clearly with the setup this story has the Asphyx must be seen, but that creates many of the issues. The effects works is good considering the likely budgetary constraints and the time period, but the design of the Asphyx strikes me and unintentionally comical. Its presence, however, is not but is rather grating and annoying.

Eventually, once the obsession is full blown the pace slows down to a snail’s crawl and why every attempted inducement of death, to lure the Asphyx, needs to be a Rube Goldberg device is beyond me. There are some good building blocks to the film but ultimately the whole is ineffectual.

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