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Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Asphyx (1973)

If Downton Abbey had a mad scientist in residence, The Asphyx would be the result.  This relatively unknown English film is quite good, especially for those who don't need lots of gore and big scares in order to be entertained.  This quiet supernatural thriller is big on concept and low on action but it draws the viewer into an intelligently written thriller where the quest for immortality leads to disastrous results.

The story begins with an ambitious and well-respected scientist, Sir Hugo Cunningham, who discovers the existence of the Asphyx which is the Spirit of Death that, allegedly, enters the body before a person dies.  If this Asphyx can be captured, Cunningman believes the person will become immortal.  Robert Stephens [The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Romeo and Juliet] is great as the good doctor.  He was the leading actor in the formative years of Britain's National Theater and it shows.  

His partner in crime is Robert Powell [He was Jesus in the classic Jesus of Nazareth] who plays Giles, the son of Hugo Cunningham and his research assistant.  He matches Stephens line for line and provides the perfect ally/foe for him.  The rest of the cast also does their PBS best to bring us the kind of quality we expect from these kinds of productions.

In addition to fine acting, the cinematography in the Asphix is absolutely beautiful.  I streamed this one on Netflix and the vivid colors and clarity of the film are excellent.  It feels like it was made much alter than its 1973 date.  Furthermore, like every good English drama the costumes and sets are impeccably constructed.  So, grab your cup of tea, a plate full of scones, sit back and enjoy this delightful British thriller.

RATING: Very Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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