Monthly Archives: June 2006

Alien Autopsy

This is a much better film than it needed to be. By that I mean that in order to make a reasonably successful film, Ant & Dec could have just gone with a formulaic buddy-comedy, and people would have gone to see it just because it was Ant & Dec. (For those of you unfamiliar with the duo, in real life Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly are two cheeky-chappy entertainers. They used to star in teen soap Byker Grove, then they had some hit singles, and now they’re top “light entertainment” TV hosts.)

Instead, they chose a quirky script based on the real story of Ray Santilli, the man behind the alien autopsy footage that had the whole world abuzz in the 1990s. Supposedly, Santilli came across the US Army cameraman who filmed a real alien being dissected after the Roswell incident of 1947. But when he finally got the cash together to buy the footage, he found it was completely degraded. So he staged a reconstruction of the autopsy, and passed this off as the real thing.

In Alien Autopsy, Dec plays the gregarious Santilli, and Ant his cautious business partner Gary Shoefield. At first, they don’t deviate much from their expected types, but they grow into their characters and pretty soon their real-world personas are left behind. What makes the film so interesting is the intersection between truth and fiction: this is a film based on the true story of a hoax which itself is claimed to be based on true events. Aside from being a pretty decent comedy-drama, the film leaves you wondering which parts of it are true depictions of real events, which parts are embellishments for the sake of the film, and which parts are true representations of things that are claimed to be true, but in fact never happened.

It’s very clever, very entertaining, and well worth seeing.


Well shot, well acted, but as a film it felt kinda perfunctory. A bunch of scenes, thrown together, to chart the rise and fall and rise of Ray Charles. A man’s life doesn’t necessarily follow the same kind of structure as a drama, but by being made into a movie, it presents itself as one. And as a drama, I found it too fragmented and arbitrary to be anything more than “merely” good.