“1.2 billion TV viewers saw the home-made autopsy film in 1995. Experts have been divided over its authenticity ever since … until now.”
I think we all remember that night in 1995 when Jonathan Frakes from Star Trek: The Next Generation hosted the television event Alien Autopsy: Fact Or Fiction. The media hype surrounding the event was one of the largest I can recall from the time. I was one of the billion-plus viewers who were curious about this allegedly “found” footage of an actual alien autopsy conducted on one of the bodies found in the Roswell crash of 1947. The story went that an Air Corp combat photographer was roused from his bed in the middle of the night. He was conducted to a secret hanger at Area 51 that he claimed he didn’t even know existed. There he was ordered to document on film the procedure on the alien saucer occupant. The footage was raw black and white and appeared to accurately portray the procedures of the era. Frakes would interrupt the footage from time to time to add a dramatic, often overly so, spin on the footage. He would speculate not only to the authenticity of the footage, but the background on the unfortunate subject being cut up before our eyes. The footage was graphic and managed to convince many who saw it. But, there was always that nagging doubt in our collective consciousness. This movie turns that doubt on its head and manages to tickle our funny bone as well.
Ray Santilli (Donelly) is a small-time hustler. He has a street vendor table where he sells pirated films and bogus memorabilia. His best mate Gary (McPartlin) is a law clerk at a pastry company. Here he finds his talents wasted and any chance to become a lawyer slim. He’s the perfect foil for Ray’s con. Ray wants to go to America and dig up rare Elvis footage that hasn’t already been seen, or most importantly, copyrighted. He hopes to bring it back to England and make a fortune. In America he finds a man who has some silent footage of Elvis at an Ohio venue. Ray’s excited. Then Harvey (Stanton), the man with the Elvis footage, drops a huge bomb. He claims to have the most important footage in history. Ray’s convinced and drives from Ohio to Miami to see what Harvey has. What he sees leaves him dumbstruck. Harvey is that Air Corp photographer and has footage of an alien autopsy. The only trouble? He wants 30 grand. So, Ray does the only thing he can do. He goes to English mobster Voros (Otto) and borrows the cash with a promise to get him a copy of the footage. Voros is an alien groupie who desperately wants to believe.
It all appears to be going well for Ray, until he gets the film home to England. It seems that a chemical degradation process began the moment the film can had been opened to show Ray the film in Miami. It’s all gone. Now he has no film and no 30 grand for Voros. He’s going to end up seriously dead. What’s a desperate man to do? He decides to fake the footage based on his memory of the actual film. He gets together friends with specific skills, and they make the film in a relative’s living room while she’s away for holiday. It not only fools Voros, but the world. Before they know it, they’ve made almost $750 thousand on television rights in 89 countries. But the story can’t help but unravel. Seeing the end coming they decide to cash in again and entice a documentary filmmaker (Pullman) to cover their story … for a price.
I was not familiar with the Ant & Dec phenomenon that appears to be all the rage in England. The duo are renowned for their hosting duties at awards shows and the like in the UK. If I had known them, I might have been more dubious of the film. I’m glad I didn’t. The pair turn what could be a very dry story into an entertaining whirlwind of fun. I don’t know much about the real Ray and Gary, but I imagine them to be somewhat boring. Ant & Dec turn these characters into guys you want to root for, if only because you don’t want the ride to end. The film rolls by so quickly that you’ll be absolutely wishing it had gone on longer. There was nearly a half hour of deleted scenes. So it very well could have gone on much longer. We love underdog stories, and this one beats them all. While Ray doesn’t appear on paper a very likable guy, he betrays his friends and is about as selfish a character as they come, you still can’t help cheering him on.
This is one of those based-on-a-true-story affairs. Who knows how close to the truth any of it is. The original duo is part of the film’s production crew. You know what? I don’t much care if any of it’s true. It’s a romp that I will absolutely watch again and again. You have to check this out. If you think Alien Autopsy: Fact Or Fiction was outrageous, this will leave you wetting your pants, or at least falling off your seat with laughter. Get it while it’s hot.
Alien Autopsy is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This movie looks better than its low budget would imply. Colors are pretty outstanding as is the detail. There are minimal compression worries. The black levels are average, but there really aren’t a ton of darkly-lit moments in the film.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 delivers pretty much the dialog as you might expect. This is all about the boys, and the spoken word dominates. The score is rather whimsical, setting the overall comedic atmosphere. It all blends together into a rather invisible audio presentation which leaves you forgetting that you’re even listening.
There is an Audio Commentary by director Johnny Campbell. It’s a very humorous track that fits well with the film itself.
The Making Of Ant & Dec’s Alien Autopsy: (30:55) The duo host this British television special that takes you behind the scenes of the film. While it does give you some nice peeks behind the camera it never takes itself too seriously and is almost as entertaining as the film itself.
Deleted Scenes/Alternate Opening/Outtakes
It simply amazes me that it took four years for this film to find distribution in North America. How could so many houses have turned this down? The movie maintains a very independent look and feel to it. That might turn some away from it on the surface. But this movie is ten times as entertaining as most of the mainstream stuff I’ve seen of late. Still not interested? These guys fleeced the media moguls of 89 countries out of $740 thousand. They tricked over a billion viewers and had experts arguing for 11 years. And, I couldn’t stop laughing so hard that I blew cranberry juice out of my nose. “Bet you want to hear the story now.”
10/05/2010 @ 12:37 pm
Gino Sassani “These guys fleeced the media moguls of 89 countries out of $740 million.”
Where do you get this amount from Gino? You’re being very specific here so I ask you, where did you find out that this amount of money was made off the broadcasters by Santilli?
10/05/2010 @ 12:53 pm
I’d like to know where you got that info from as well.
10/05/2010 @ 2:16 pm
I would suggest that perhaps the number has (at least in part)been pulled out of thin air. Ray Santilli and his group don’t act like they made millions of dollars, and I doubt they’d have wasted time with the “Ant and Dec” spoof. I also would like to see an accounting of what media outlets paid millions of dollars.
10/05/2010 @ 3:12 pm
The amount is mentioned in the movie. Remember this is a review of the movie and not the actual events. I don’t know how much the original guys made, but the film does specifically name $740 Thousand. Looking back over my notes the Million was a typo but I did not pull it from thin air. Sorry for the typo.
10/07/2010 @ 5:04 am
The original movie is a complete scam. Read my new book ALIEN AUTOIPSY CASEBOOK. Issue 2 of UFO MATRIX magazine has an interview in it with Spyros Melaris, he is the man that led the team that faked it. Don’t buy this DVD.
10/07/2010 @ 11:02 am
Yes, Philip. The original movie was a scam. That is made VERY clear in this film. I am not endorsing the scam. But this is a very funny film which will absolutely entertain. This review has really nothing to do with the 1995 scam.
10/08/2010 @ 12:07 pm
>>> This review has really nothing to do with the 1995 scam. <<<
Actually, it does. Any promotion of this film continues to promote the original scam; a review, the sales of the DVD, softball interviews with Santilli, etc. It’s one in the same, made worse because both projects came about by the same man; making money, and continuing to make money off and because of the original scam.
You can’t distant yourself from this because you think a film review is just that, a harmless review. In this case, it isn’t.
You’re giving more publicity to Santilli, which in turn keeps his face and name in the public eye, which helps him get his next Alien Autopsy projected funded.
Santilli continues his lying, scheming and profitable ways, assisted by movie reviewers who know it’s all a scam but who couldn’t be bothered with pointing this fact out in a clear and factual manner.
Better to be read, in any way, than to assist with the publishing of the truth I suppose.
You’re not a reported, granted, sadly, reporters aren’t reporters anymore either.
10/08/2010 @ 12:12 pm
Also, it wasn’t made clear in the Ant and Dec film that the original was a scam. What Santilli is saying is that there was “original footage” and they based their scam; their “restoration” on what Santilli saw, bought and seemingly still has in his procession. Philip’s research says no, there was NEVER film, and that it’s all a fake.
The film presents it both ways, it’s a scam but it’s also real.
You may want to watch the film again. It’s quite clear.
10/08/2010 @ 12:23 pm
I’m sorry, but I won’t lie and say that this film isn’t entertaining and funny as Hell because of the politics of the original scam. My job isn’t to review based on an agenda. I stand by my review that “THIS” film is a lot of fun to watch. My readers expect me to judge this release on its own entertainment value.I’m happy to have your comments on the record here. I hope you understand the purpose of this review, however. To take your point of view would mean I must consider all movies where the subject is “bad” as bad films. A movie about Hitler can’t be a good movie, because Hitler was a bad person. A movie about Capone can not get a god review, under your point here. Take Care, Gino
10/08/2010 @ 12:52 pm
While I understand your stance of the purpose of a film review, and I don’t disagree on the surface, it doesn’t fit in every case. Doing a search on Oliver Stone’s “JFK”, will result in reviews which clearly had an agenda.
Is this right or wrong? Depends on whom you ask and the viewer of the film I suppose. Depending on the “nature” of the film, I think a bit of reality-based reviewing isn’t such a bad thing. Oliver Stone would agree and is on record saying as much.
We never asked you to down play the films entertainment value. That’s a matter of taste anyway. In my opinion, this film could, and should be reviewed in the same manner the majority of the reviewers took to task the Stone “JFK” film.
After all, both films are a mixture of “self-professed” fiction and fact.
We “AA” researchers only have so many opportunities to get out the truth, so we jump on any opportunity to do so, and with zeal.
We’re hopeful that the mass public, the same public which watched with fascination, the Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction on Fox (in the US) and the same public whom got fleeced by Santilli, might stumble upon our attempts to right his wrong.
We appreciate you allowing us to voice our opinions on this site.
10/08/2010 @ 1:25 pm
To support this film in a positive manner is to support the scam that continues to this very day. It simply puts more money into the pockets of the scumbags in question.
Don’t buy it. It’s as simple as that.
10/08/2010 @ 2:20 pm
Hey Mark, I take issue with you saying I did not review this film in a factual way. I acknowledge several times in the film that the 95 film was a hoax. While you might disagree with my points, I take exception to being called a liar. Perhaps you are correct and some reviewers have an agenda. This reviewer and this site does not. We will continue to review each film based strictly on its entertainment value. As for pointing out the other side. You will note I said the guys “fleeced” the networks. I think that makes clear the point that the 1995 film was a scam.
10/08/2010 @ 3:12 pm
I apologize for giving you, or anyone the impression that I was calling you a liar. Santilli is the liar, the first film was a lie, and this second film is a continuation of that lie; all for profit.
Taken in this light, the Ant and Dec film, on the surface, is entertainment, and the majority of the public will take it as such. Underneath that veneer; it’s much more than that, there’s no getting around this fact.
Again, I appreciate your willingness to allow us to post our insights and I apologize for any misunderstanding.
10/13/2010 @ 4:45 pm
At my local Wal Mart they sold 2. They’ve been pulled off the shelf already to make room for the new releases. This doesn’t happen normally, so quickly, but a lot of DVD’s for Halloween are being released…? I’ll check the $5 bins next week.
10/21/2010 @ 3:27 am
Well, my Wal Mart still doesn’t have the DVD on the shelves? They pulled it and it hasn’t come back?
Anyway, I had the pleasure of doing a podcast on Wednesday with Gino.
He gave me the opportunity to talk about and pass along information regarding the original Alien Autopsy video and how the just released DVD of the Ant and Dec film “Alien Autopsy” twists the original story around.
I shy away from doing press in a general way but I had a wonderful time shooting the bull with Gino. Very fun, fast paced and informative. It should be posted sometime on Thursday.
Thanks very much Gino. For once, I had a positive experience with the media.
10/21/2010 @ 7:16 pm
Without turning this into a discussion of the Alien Autopsy, I think it is important that the other side be stated. Philip has been talking up the hoax business for quite some time but we still don’t actually know if there was genuine film. Even the man who stated he hoaxed the footage has said in an interview he saw the creature in the original Alien Autopsy on old damaged film, nor has Santilli ever changed his story regarding buying the film in USA.
At the end of the Ant and Dec film there is an end-piece we still don’t know if it’s from the original footage or not. After contacting the studio we’ve had two different answers. Nevertheless it’s an interesting review Gino and thanks for allowing us to have our say.
10/21/2010 @ 8:35 pm
podcast has been posted regarding this DVD:
12/02/2010 @ 2:34 am
The Ant and Dec “Alien Autopsy movie never came back to Wal Mart. Not sure what happened? They sold one to me, pulled it and that was it.