Wednesday, January 20, 2016

AUTOPSY (1974)


Director: Armando Crispino
Writers: Armando Crispino, Lucio Battistrada

Starring: Mimsy Farmer, Barry Primus, Ray Lovelock

     When I read about Autopsy in the excellent book Spaghetti Nightmares, it drew my attention. A flick about people committing suicide due to sunspots? Sounds a bit Lovecraftian. Add that fucker to my list! Stumbling upon it when I made an excursion to a local music and movie store, I thought the Cinema Gods were smiling down upon me that day.
     Little did I know, they were smiles of schadenfreude.
     The film opens with several people committing suicide (one is actually a murder/suicide). We are then introduced to Simona (Mimsy Farmer), an intern at a morgue where she is working on her master’s thesis: real suicide vs fake suicide. Simona is also having strange hallucinations of the dead coming back to life. Is she working too hard, or is she a prime candidate for the looney bin? Betty, a woman whom Simona meets once, kills herself on the beach. Her brother Paul (Barry Primer), a priest who’s an ex-race car driver, believes that she was killed. Of course, the two begin investigating, kind of fall in love, and…investigate some more. Who/what is behind the killings? What’s the deal with the people committing suicide? Will we even find out?
     Despite Autopsy starting out with promise, and even a few unsettling bits, it soon abandons “promise” for “boring.” Yup folks, what we have here is another boring giallo in a never-ending string of boring gialli. Knowing full-well it is a giallo, I went in with zero expectations. And I still found it boring. The film’s biggest problem is that it tries to combine a psychological thriller, a murder mystery and a Lovecraftian tale into one package. While this would make for an excellent flick, it all falls apart in director Armando Crispino’s hands mainly because he chooses to focus on the murder mystery while leaving the other two threads hanging and unconcluded. Why are people committing suicide? Why is Simona having hallucinations? Why is someone trying to drive her crazy? We never find out (or, maybe we do but I was too busy sleeping during those points).
     And given that we spend a lot of time with the characters you’d think the filmmakers would try and flesh them out a bit more. But no: they’re the standard one-dimensional giallo fodder. In other words, dull and forgettable.
     But all is not bad. After all, we have Ennio Morricone’s score which is nice, and fairly creepy in some parts. We also have some nice gore effects during autopsy sequences. Oh, and we get some tits!
     But those three aspects aren’t worth sitting through this flick for. Unless you’re a hardcore giallo fan (which I’m not), go ahead and toss this on the Skip and Forget pile. You can thank me later when you’re spending your time watching something far more interesting.

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