Monday, March 16, 2015

The Asphyx - 1973

Sometimes all it takes for me to see a movie is a cool synopsis and the fact it is available to watch instantly on Netflix.  Yes, I am a Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube watcher - not really TV or any other watching service guy though.  I pretty much stick to what's easy, cheap, or free.  Of course like everybody has Netflix, so do I, cause I'm a follower and not a leader.

I found The Asphyx under circumstances that I completely do not remember even though it was only like 4 days ago.  I watched it in two sittings.  It is the only film directed by second unit photographer Peter Newbrook who did some work on Laurence of Arabia .  The actors are in some things, nothing I have seen, though one of them was in The Who film Tommy.

The plot is:  a photographer has noticed that in some pictures of dying people, he has captured what appears to be a black smudge in these photos.  They appear on several photos and it's really creeping him out, man.  So then he is out boating with his son and his son's fiancee, and he is filming them as they boat around a river.  His son somehow strikes his head on a branch, tips the canoe, and both the son and his fiancee die.  Whoa, bad accident.  But on the film, when they were boating, as he struck his head, again appears that same black smudge.

The photographer, Hugo, and his adopted son Giles then isolate what it is they think traps the smudge in the photos: some chemical in the photo process actually traps "death" coming for the person, and that is why the smudge appears.  Of course, since a photo is instantaneous, as soon as the shutter closes, "death" escapes again.  So they devise an ongoing light which uses crystals to shine a blueish light which should keep death trapped.  Soon they're testing it on a mouse, which proves successful.  And since they have trapped the soul, the mouse cannot die until his death (or as they call it, The Asphyx) is returned to him.  Meaning if they keep it under that blue light forever, the mouse is in essence immortal.  And human testing is next....

This movie was smart, and had an interesting concept.  The actors were believable and the pacing was pretty decent as well.  The "Asphyx" is a stop motion little bug looking monster guy:
And it tended to work out, mostly because we didn't see it for incredibly long.  Also, as you can see in the above still, the sets and the production value were pretty nice, it had a lot going for it.

There are some weak points in it to be sure.  Sometimes the characters are amazingly stupid for otherwise very intelligent people.  There are some unbelievable and clunky parts in the movie, there are parts where it just jumps ahead without explanation, and the ending is pretty dumb too.  I feel like a really good idea, the whole Asphyx thing, was the best part, and everything else was weak.  So maybe keep that idea, and construct a different movie around it.

It's nothing that I'd rush out to buy.  Some people would inevitably love this film and see it as a wonderful, even philosophical film.  I just didn't.  I'll throw it 2.5 stars, completely middle of the road type film for me.

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