By: David Bloomberg Re: Autopsy Goofs, 12 +quot;Alien Autopsy+quot; - Blooper List +quot;A
By: David Bloomberg
Re: Autopsy Goofs, 1/2
"Alien Autopsy" - Blooper List
"Alien Autopsy" Goofs - The Master List
This list is based on the "complete footage", as seen at the end of the
Fox home video release. (And presumably on the video available from the
Roswell Centre, though we haven't seen that.)
Individually, these things might be explainable. But add them up and...
well, you decide.
Because of the continuity of the blood drops, stains, and other details of
the corpse as the autopsy progresses, it seems likely one alien corpse was
used for the entire sequence. (It is possible to repaint drops of blood on
a second body, but there's nothing that really suggests a second body was
needed.) The cameraman's style is, to say the least, awful. Even when he
has a clear field of view and plenty of time, he seldom stands still for
more than a few seconds. However, he also seems to have an uncanny knack
for triggering his camera immediately before something interesting happens,
and to be pointing at the right place when it does. Also, notice the number
of times he frames his shots to allow room for something that hasn't
happened yet - but does as soon as the shot begins.
The Body: Before the examiners enter the scene, the camera runs around the
exam table, getting shots of the body. The rolls of fat under the armpits,
above the thighs, and under the chin all seem to indicate gravity pulling
toward the toes rather than downward. The leg muscles seem to be tensed.
All of which suggests this body was created from a body cast of a standing
person. The overall position of the body from the very first shot until the
very last is exactly the same - with no sign throughout that it ever moves
The initial exam scenes: Seen in their entirety, the actions of the examiner
prior to the first incision are a treat to watch. Perhaps he's supposed to
be feeling for organs under the skin before he starts cutting. If so, he
can't be feeling much - not the way he's doing it! How many ways can you
pretend to handle a body without actually handling it? Ask this guy - he
knows them all.
Examining the face: The doctor lays hands on the creature's face, and
appears to be looking in its mouth. Does he even attempt to open the jaw,
or pull the lips aside? Nope!
Closeup of the wounded knee:
The doctor bends the knee slightly - but only to the point where a foam or
urethane knee would be expected to start wrinkling. Also, of all the joints
this one is the most likely to bend at all, since half of its material is
missing. Perhaps this is why we never see any attempt to manipulate the
other joints. Also notice the knee-bending scene takes place over two
shots - a close shot and a wide shot. The doctor bends the knee in the
close shot. Then, what appears to be an end-of-roll flare appears. At
least a few minutes must have passed while the cameraman changed rolls and
began filming again. And when filming resumes we find the doctor still
bending the knee! Must be one fascinating knee bend there.
Closeup of the hand:
The bending of the wrist shows no sign of elastic skin sliding over an
understructure. The curvature of the bend suggests the wrist is a boneless
tube. When the hand flops to the table, the fingers don't bounce.
First neck incision:
A low angle shot of the shoulders and head. This single shot is interesting
for a variety of reasons - The shoulders appear to be standing straight out
from the body, rather than sagging back against the table.
(Typical of a standing-up body cast.) The skin of the back shows no sign of
softness or compression where it meets the table. This type of neck incision is
normally used prior to removing the skin of the face... which we never see
happen. At the very end of the shot, the incision appears to begin bleeding
spontaneously from two places under the ear. This could be a lucky coincidence... but consider the following: The previous shot shows
the examiner picking up the scalpel, apparently about to begin the
The shot ends there. The next shot begins with the camera perfectly placed - and uncharacteristically steady - as the incision begins.
As the doctor moves the scalpel along the neck and across to the chest the
camera doesn't move on. Instead, it remains focused on the side of the
neck for several seconds - until blood begins to drip from the wound.
This is the only shot which suggests the creature builders may have included
some "blood gags" - devices intended to make the body bleed at specific
places and times. (Usually tubes hidden below the skin and pumped from
off-camera.) The way the camera seems to be waiting for the blood to begin
dripping hints that this may be an example of a blood gag.
Chest incision: The abdominal incision happens three times in three
different shots in this sequence! This is highly unusual - a single
aggressive cut is the normal technique. The first cut along the abdomen -
the scalpel doesn't even appear to be breaking the surface of the skin. The
second cut - the examiner seems to be sawing the skin with the scalpel.
This could suggest a silicone skin, which is pretty tough stuff. It's
difficult to tell if the earlier cuts are even there when the second and
third cuts are made, which would suggest retakes. However, they might be
there, but invisible due to the poor cinematography.
Opening of chest flaps:(This entire sequence is missing from the Fox
special. Too bad - it's nice work!) Even in the complete footage, a key
moment when the incised skin is first opened is not seen, suggesting
redressing of the corpse between the two sequences. It's also possible
that sequence was shot, but left out because it didn't look very good!
Missing scene - sternum removal:
After the skin is reflected from the chest, the entire sequence of the
removal of what appears to be the sternum and ribcage is omitted.
First the ribcage is there, then suddenly it isn't.
Note the sequence near the end of the organ-removal scenes, showing the
V-shaped lower end of the abdominal incision and the alien's upper thighs.
The examiner removes several organs, going deeper and deeper into the
cavity. But where are the alien's pelvis and thigh bones? Judging by the
location of the legs, they would be expected to be visible, instead of the
empty space seen here.
Eye membrane removal scene:
As the examiner prepares to remove the eye membranes, he lays his hand on
the alien's forehead and moves the head slightly. The resulting motion is
very stiff. The head seems to be moving at one point only - the join
between the neck and head, rather than the compound move a humanoid neck
Eye membrane removal scene, Part II:
A wide shot as the examiner leans in to remove the creature's left eye
membrane. He places the pickers at the corner of the eye, and...
There is a cut. The next shot is a closeup of the pickers at the corner of
the eye, at the instant the examiner removes the membrane. Several seconds
at least must have elapsed between the two shots - but the examiner
apparently hasn't moved. Strange - unless the examiner was very much aware
of the camera and waited until it was ready to capture the moment of removal.
Another instant change of camera position here. The camera is on the
examiner's left side. The examiner begins the cut on the far side of the
alien's head, working his way around to the top of the head. The shot ends
as the scalpel is still in motion. The next shot begins with the camera on
the examiner's right side. The scalpel is still in motion - and within an
inch or two of where it was in the previous shot. Again, either the camera
operator either managed to change position and resume filming within two or
three seconds - or the examiner waited for the next shot to begin.
Scalp incision - Part II (Closeup, left side of the alien's head) As the
scalpel moves down the side of the head, past the ear, several square inches
of the side of the head dimple inward. Unusual for skin being cleanly cut,
but typical of a rubber surface being pressed against.
Scalp incision - Part III:
The scalp incision is repeated a second time. Again, very unusual
procedure. Normally, one deep cut is performed.
Missing scene in scalp removal sequence:
Incision of scalp, then a sudden jump to a shot of the scalp already partly
removed. Like the same missing scene in the abdominal sequence, this
suggests a redressing of the skin before continuing of the scene, or the
removal of the actual "skin opening" shot because it didn't look good.
Examiner response to camera:
The only time an examiner acknowledges the camera's existence occurs during
the scalp removal sequence. The camera is close on the examiner's hands as
he prepares to use his scalpel on the skin of the scalp. Suddenly the
examiner turns to the camera, waves directly at the lens, then turns away.
The shot stops there. The next shot shows the beginning of the same action,
and this time the examiner proceeds without stopping. It's possible the
examiner was warning the cameraman, or angry at something he said or did.
It's also possible this is an actor breaking character to say "Cut, cut!
I blew it!"
Missing scene of skull cap removal:
The lengthy "sawing the skull cap" scene never shows the actual breakthrough
of the skull, or the removal of the skull cap. Instead, the film jumps
directly from the sawing to the removal of the brain. Notice also that the
entire sequence only shows the sawing of the forehead area. To completely
open the skull cap, the examiner would have had to saw completely around
the circumference of the head. This would require turning the alien's head
to both sides, then probably turning the body completely over.
None of what must have been a lengthy procedure is seen here. A coincidental
omission - or more evidence that the alien's head doesn't turn, and the body
wasn't built to look good when face-down? Nice work here: the piercing of
the membrane covering the "brain" is wonderfully gross!
Blooper: Head goes "boinnnng!"
Possibly the cutest moment in the entire film. Watch carefully as the
brain is removed and placed in the tray. The alien's head is visible in
the lower portion of the frame, partially covered by the flap of scalp.
The assistant brings the pan into frame, then grabs the alien's head to
steady it while the brain is removed. At the moment the brain is placed
in the pan, he lets go of the head - and it bounces rapidly back and forth.
Notice how he quickly reaches out again to stop the head from bouncing!
A Few Additional Observations:
The complete film doesn't show any sign of "hot frames". Every time a
spring-wound camera begins to roll, it requires a fraction of a second to
get to full speed, overexposing the first few frames. This overexposure
results in a telltale flash at the beginning of every shot. None are seen
We only see two walls of the "exam room". Despite the many times the
cameraman moves to the foot and the far side of the table - he manages to
avoid showing the opposite side of the room. Coincidence? Or are there
movie lights or crewmembers we're not supposed to see? Or is there no
"other side" of the room at all? This footage shows the initial
examination, the first incision, the removal of many major organs, the
scalp incision, and the removal of the brain. The cameraman supposedly
turned the rest of his footage over to the military. So what's on the
film the military did get? Apparently they never noticed all the major
events of the autopsy were missing. The examiners never acknowledge the
camera operator. (Other than the one unusual moment listed above.) The
"official" story is that they ignored him. Possibly.But - note how they
never glance at the camera at all. They're never surprised when he sprints
in to shoot over their shoulders or under their armpits. He runs all around
the room, supposedly at random, and yet never seems to get in their way, and
Their behavior suggests they're not just ignoring him - they're pretending
he isn't there. Watch your old home movies - people who are being filmed
in candid scenes usually glance at the camera. Actors know they're not
"Alien Autopsy" (Epilog)
British expert Cliff Wallace of Creature Effects:
"None of us were of the opinion that we were watching a real alien autopsy,
or an autopsy on a mutated human which has also been suggested. We all
agreed that what we were seeing was a very good fake body, a large
proportion of which had been based on a lifecast. Although the nature of
the film obscured many of the things we had hoped to see, we felt that the
general posture and weighting of the corpse was incorrect for a body in a
prone position and had more in common with a cast that had been taken in an
upright position. We did notice evidence of a possible molding seam line
down an arm in one segment of the film but were generally surprised that
there was little other evidence of seaming which suggests a high degree of
We felt that the filming was done in such a way as to obscure details
rather than highlight them and that many of the parts of the autopsy that
would have been difficult to fake, for example the folding back of the
chest flaps, were avoided, as was anything but the most cursory of limb
movement. We were also pretty unconvinced by the lone removal sequence. In
our opinion the insides of the creature did not bear much relation to the
exterior where muscle and bone shapes can be easily discerned. We all
agreed that the filming of the sequence would require either the use of two
separate bodies, one with chest open, one with chest closed, or significant
redressing of one mortal. Either way the processes involved are fairly
complicated and require a high level of specialized knowledge."
NOTE: We had already prepared the text of our own analysis before we were
sent a copy of this statement. Mr. Wallace's opinions are strikingly
similar to our own - clearly he is a very perceptive individual!
Subject: Roswell Aliens-altered corpse theory
From: email@example.com (LazzWaldo)
Date: 26 Aug 1995 04:41:34 -0400
Now who in their right mind would say that these are altered human
corpses? That is patently ridiculous. I have seen the photos, and believe
me, the "aliens" are dummies easily constructed by any competent makeup FX
house. I run one myself, so I know whereof I speak. Get real. A guy who
has the wherewithal to fake sets and film stock ALSO has the
resourcefulness to obtain human corpses and then MODIFY them? What sort of
"modifications" do you suggest have taken place? I'm saying that the
SIMPLEST "modifications" to human corpses (derma-wax and makeup in
mortuaries) are, as many people have seen, not very seamless or
convincing. It's a hell of a lot easier to contract with a makeup FX
house, sign 'em to secrecy (we sign non-disclosures all the time), and
have 'em make a bitchin' alien corpse than it is to wangle a deceased
human body. Foam latex, gelatine, urethane, and silicone are all materials
that can appear fleshlike on film. It's pretty easy to obtain animal
organs and place them in a false body cavity. Gore is some of the easiest
stuff to fake. Ironically, there should be more! When you see the film,
note the minimal damage to the "bodies". For the amount of damage their
"craft" supposedly took, and the ease with which man-made autopsy tools
render their "flesh" (indicating a pretty close similarity to human
tissue; no invulnerability here) you would have seen a HELL of a lot more
tissue damage. Look in a forensic pathology book at air crash
They turn to hamburger; shredded, pulverised, and barely recognizable from
their original form. Hey, I'm a skeptic, too, but explanations along the
lines of "modified human corpses" are absurd, way out of line, and
laughable. You don't gain any credibility or further the cause for
rational thinking with that kind of garbage. Occam's Razor cuts into
synthetic, not real flesh, in this case.
President, The Character Shop
Creators of some fine animatronic creatures and makeup FX for: Dumbo Drop,
Bud Frogs, Outbreak, The Santa Clause, Miller Lite BassBall and Surfing
Cow ads, The Sandlot, and many others....
Subject: Fox's "Alien Autopsy" - A Pathologist's View
Date: 15 Sep 1995 01:12:20 GMT
I have just watched a tape of this very interesting show, but I must say
that I have to be a little less charitable than the pathologist
commentators on the show. I think it is a hoax, for some of the reasons
brought up on the show and other reasons of my own.
1. I agree with the cinematographer whose suspicion was raised when the
close-up shots were out of focus. Clearly the camera _could_ focus
closely, as in the external shots and shots of the excised "organs" on
the table, but where you really needed resolution to figure out the
anatomy (the in situ shots), the film was conveniently fuzzy.
2. Any pathologist involved in such a case would be obsessed with
documenting the findings. He would be systematically demonstrating
findings every step of the way, such as showing how the joints worked,
whether the eyelids closed, etc. He should be ordering the cameraman all
over the place, but instead the cameraman was totally ignored, like he
wasn't there at all. The pathologist acted more like an actor in front of
a camera than someone who was cooperating in a photographic documentation
3. The prosector used scissors like a tailor, not like a pathologist or
surgeon. He held the scissors with thumb and forefinger, whereas
pathologists and surgeons put the thumb in one scissors hole and the
middle or ring finger in the other. The forefinger is used to steady the
scissors further up toward the blades.
4. The way the initial cuts in the skin were made a little too
Hollywood-like, too gingerly, like operating on a living patient. Autopsy
cuts are deeper and faster.
5. I would expect the skin of a species with a jointed endoskeleton to be
elastic, so it could move with and glide over moving joints. When cuts
were made in the "alien's" skin, the edges of the skin did not retract
from the blade.
6. The most implausible thing of all is that the "alien" just had
amorphous lumps of tissue in "her" body cavities. I cannot fathom that an
alien who had external organs so much like ours could not have some sort
of definitive structural organs internally. And again, the prosectors did
not make any attempt to arrange the organs for demonstration to the
7. This of course is outside my area of expertise, but the whole
production just did not "look right" for a military documentary of the
1940's. I'm sure an expert in lighting, cinematography, etc. could be a
bit more specific. Maybe they should have hired the guy who did Woody
Allen's _Zelig_ to give the production a little more technical
8. And the "period pieces," the wall phone and electric wall clock were
just a little too glib, IMHO.
9. Oh, yeah. The body was not propped up on a body block (which goes
under the back during the examination of the trunk and under the head for
removal of the brain). This is a very basic piece of autopsy equipment,
and all pathologists use it.
So, I think it was a really fine effort, worthy even of a Cal Tech prank,
but not quite good enough to be believable.
Ed Uthman, MD
Houston/Richmond, TX, USA
From Dave Harrington (email correspondence, used by permission):
As a veteran news and feature film cameraman with 30 years experience, I'd
sure like to know what type of film camera the fellow who shot that
stuff claims to have used. If it was in 1947 and the film stock was 16mm,
then the field is reduced to just a few (the Kodak magazine load or the Bell
& Howell daylight-load roll film units being among them.) Using this info
and examining the film carefully (calibrating f/stop from the apparant
depth of field exhibited in the shots) could lead one to make a pretty good
guess as to whether or not the type of lenses used, and the speed of the
film stock, were even available for hand-held cameras in the 1940's.
NOTE: A good question. Does anyone know of any research having been done
on this topic?
Also, the very nature of filming an autopsy would mean that the photographer
filmed the entire proceedure in sequence, as it occurred. And this being a
world-shattering event, I doubt that an editor would want to trim any
valuable frames from the raw stock. This brings us to another technical
point: Those spring wound hand-cameras almost always over exposed the first
frame or two of every shot. This is due to the rotating shutter getting up
to speed every time the shutter release button is depressed. The resulting
"hot frames" at the head would be easily visible. If the photog claimed
that he (or she) edited the coverage "in camera", and these hot frames are
not evident, then you can be suspicious of the whole deal.
NOTE: As it turns out, the "complete" film as seen at the end of the home
video release _does not_ show "hot frames" at the beginning of takes. (But
scrap footage that seems to indicate the ends of each roll _has_ been left
It's _possible_ somebody carefully trimmed all the "hot frames" from the
original footage... but why? Otherwise, the lack of "hot frames" would seem
to suggest this film actually was shot on a more modern, motor-driven
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank