OK, so there's this guy. A squire, I think, and be honest--you're not really sure what a squire is, are you? No, I didn't think so. Well, I will tell you a squire is...a rich guy who lives in a big house and gives lectures to people about weird smudges on film. Yes, photography, which was so cutting edge back in the Victorian era, is the major plot point here. The squire guy's name is Hugo Cunningham, and he's just married a second wife. They're way too happy together, so you know something awful is going to happen to her, right? Right. Well, before it happens, we discover Hugo has some strange research going. He studies pictures taken of subjects who were moments from death, and discovers an unexplained smudge on the images. Hugo is convinced the smudges are images of the soul leaving the body, and he's determined to prove the soul can be photographed.
|Ladies and gentlemen...the Asphyx.|
Hugo dubs the apparition the "Asphyx", and his hypothesis is that the Asphyx is what truly extinguishes a human being's life. An experiment with a guinea pig reveals the Asphyx can not only be trapped in Hugo's beam of light, but also imprisoned inside a lighted bottle, rendering the guinea pig immortal because it's Asphyx cannot reach it. It isn't long before Cunningham enlists his daughter's fiance to help him with his experiments, and he turns himself immortal by trapping his own Asphyx. Hugo's immortality, however, also causes him to become even more determined to pass this morbid little curse on to his daughter and her fiance.
|"Oh, Good God, I just remembered I left the iron on!"|
In the end, "The Asphyx" is one of those films that wants to tell us that even though nobody wants to die, living forever could really kind of suck, too. Although I wouldn't call it pure 70s Doom, especially since it's a period movie, this idea alone is enough to lend it a little doomy cred. It's not a bad way to spend an hour & a half.