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The Asphyx

UK 1973
produced by
John Brittany for Glendale
directed by Peter Newbrook
starring Robert Stephens, Robert Powell, Jane Lapotaire, Alex Scott, Ralph Arliss, Fiona Walker, Terry Scully, John Lawrence, David Grey, Tony Caunter, Paul Bacon
story by Christina Beers, Laurence Beers, music by Bill McGuffie

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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London, turn to the 20th century: On his photos of people at the moment of their death, inventor Sir Hugo (Robert Stephens) realizes weird smudges, and since they can't be explained away by some technical shortcomings, he and a few colleagues come to the conclusion it must be the soul leaving the body ... until Hugo films a very tragic event, the death of his wife-to-be (Fiona Walker) and his son (Ralph Arliss), and he sees the smudge is not actually leaving the body but moving towards it at the moment of death ...

Later, Sir Hugo films a public hanging, and when he turns on his light booster he realizes he is capturing something in it, and as long as he has captured whatever-it-is in his light, the hanged man does not die - so he figures whatever-it-is must be the spirit of death of Greek mythology, or the Asphyx, that gets those dieing into the land of the dead.

After a series of experiments, Sir Hugo figures how to capture the Asphyx, which ultimately results in immortality. And after he has already lost his wife-to-be and his son, he decides to not only make himself immortal but also his daughter Christina (Jane Lapotaire) and her fiancé Giles (Robert Powell), who also happens to be his adopted son ...

So at first, he has himself killed on the electric chair, but Giles capture his Asphyx at the moment of his death - an experiment which almost fails, but ultimately it makes Sir Hugo immortal, as he finds out in later experiments, and  he will stay immortal as long as his Asphyx is safely kept in a vault beneath his house.

Then he and Giles want to make Christina immortal too, this time using a guillotine which is supposed to only almost behead her, enough to lure the Asphyx to her ... but when Sir Hugo's (immortal) guinea pig gnaws through a few of the wires, Christina loses her head for real, and now Sir Hugo and Giles see no other way than to release her Asphyx and letting her die for real.

Giles is so shattered by the death of his fiancée that he uses the experiment to capture his Asphyx (in a gas chamber) to actually kill himself for real by a mighty explosion. It is now that Sir Hugo realizes the madness of his plans, and to repent for his sins, he decides to destroy the combination to his vault and live forever in grief, only accompanied by his immortal guinea pig.


In pure writing, The Asphyx sounds like a more than silly movie, as much is certain. But as a film, The Asphyx is surprisingly charming, a macabre blend of dark comedy and all-out-horror carried by excellent actors playing strong characters, great writing, and a thorough examination of the themes underlying the film's (admittedly silly) story.

Strongly recommended !


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD