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Site created 12/15/97.


review added: 8/13/98



The Asphyx
25th Anniversary Collector's Edition - 1973 (1997) - Paragon Pictures (All Day Entertainment)

review by Todd Doogan, special to The Digital Bits

The Asphyx Film Rating: B
A wonderful movie, with real twists and a neat little monster -- even if it's a bit cheesy in today's horror filled world. Currently one of my guilty pleasures.

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/C
Audio is fine, the video is a bit jumpy and the extras are pretty much not there, but there's still more on this disc than on your average Columbia/TriStar disc.

Overall Rating: B-
Horror films aren't scary anymore, so go back to a time when horror films were at least fun, and if you're willing to go -- The Asphyx is an eager, and worthwhile guide.

Specs and Features

99 mins, unrated, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), single-sided, single layered, Amaray packaging, filmographies of the cast and crew, production notes, reproduction of the original U.S. presskit, film-themed menu, scene access (25 chapters), English (mono - two track)

Review

I really loved this movie. I have no idea why, but I did. Maybe it's because I love those Hammer horror films. And even though this wasn't one, it has that same feel. Maybe it's because it's just one of those fun Saturday afternoon horror flicks --the type you would have caught as a kid on the tube. Or maybe, it's because I'm a writer and I would love to update this flick and make it my own. It's the type of movie that could make it in today's snobbish horror arena. Hey, what the heck -- it has a couple of young attractive people in it -- throw in some cool dialogue ala Quentin Williamson, or was that Kevin Tarantino -- I get them confused. It'll work, believe me -- The Asphyx simply rocks.

The story goes like this: why back in old Victorian England, we meet Sir Hugo Cunningham, a man who likes to take photographs of the recently departed. Call it a quirk, call it a hobby -- he doesn't care what you call it -- he's rich. One day while looking at his photographs, he starts to notice something peculiar about ALL the photos. Each of them has a heavy blotch hanging around near the head of the subject. Maybe it's a speck, or a thumbprint -- but further examination shows that it maintains the same shape each and every time it appears. Cunningham soon develops a fancy light source that shows the splotch for what it is -- a creature called an Asphyx that takes the souls from the dead. Each person is apparently assigned their own Asphyx and Cunningham soon manages to capture his very own soul-stealing Asphyx and achieves immortality. But why should he be all alone in this world? Why not bring his daughter and her fiancée (his assistant) along for the ride? Why not, you say? Well, that's where the horror begins.

Now, I'm not gonna spoil it for you, but there are some neat little twists and turns -- and if you haven't seen these twists, you're in for a good time. All Day Entertainment, a DVD exclusive company (and God bless `em) maintains that they release "movies that fell through the cracks" -- and it's true, I never heard of this film before. But I'm glad All Day turned me on to it. The print is generally okay -- it's pretty clean and free of digital compression noise. But right from the start, it seems to slowly flash -- bright then dull. The opening credits seem to flicker, and it might be a problem all throughout, but with the stationary white letters, it gives you a good focal framing point (it looks like some one is moving the TV left to right and back again) and you notice it more in the beginning. Otherwise, the compression is clean. The sound in two track mono is a bit muffled, but I would attribute that to the master tape, and not the quality of the disc. The extras are simple, nothing to crow about, and the menu screens are stiff. It's, again, no big deal -- but since we've all been spoiled with better menus, the navigation here is a bit clumsy.

Bottom line

It's a movie you wouldn't otherwise see outside of DVD, especially in the condition it's in. Although it seems a trifle clumsy, consider it was one of the first DVDs put out by new kid All Day and they've taken leaps since then. The nice looking Ganga and Hess is their newest disc. If you're a fan of horror, Hammer or otherwise, this is a library buy.

Todd Doogan
todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com




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