AUTOPSY (1975) – The Dungeon Review!

Autopsy will be the final 1970’s review for the year. As always, I intended to review a lot more than I did. I was hoping to cover some porn-horror titles and even called upon the assistance of another “gore” girl. Gory gratitude to Gore Gore Girl for providing me with a list of titles. I fully intend on seeing a few of these in the new year! In the meantime, go check out “XXX through a feminist lens” at Gore Gore Girl’s blog for some well written and entertaining reviews by clicking here. I thought I would be happy watching nothing but 70’s films forever and ever, but a strange thing happened. We started watching the AMC series The Walking Dead and it got me hankering to check out some newer titles. Worry not my friends, there will always be shitloads of 70’s titles reviewed in the Dungeon, but it is time to mix it up a bit. And bloody hell do I have some catching up to do! I’ll be off for a few days and when I come back my first post will be all about the films of 2010. Now let’s talk Autopsy!

Simona Sana is a medical student writing her thesis on identifying genuine suicides from simulated. It just so happens that the region is experiencing solar activity that seems to be causing a rash of suicides. When a woman she met the previous night shows up on the slab, Simona finds herself pulled in to a disturbing mystery that threatens her sanity and her life.

You’ve got some people in your life you need to get rid of? Why not do it during a peculiar rash of suicides?! It’s a solid plan really. Autopsy certainly has a lively start. We watch as a handful of people kill themselves. We get a flash of naked breasts before a woman offs herself in her bathroom. A man puts a bag on his head and then drowns himself (make up your mind buddy! Do you want to suffocate or drown? Jeesh!). A man sets his car ablaze with himself inside and another man has killed two children and then turns an automatic weapon on himself and fires a few clips into his belly. Then we meet the lovely Simona at work in the city morgue. Some skin is sliced, some organs removed and then our gal begins seeing some pretty fucked up shit. Simona is seeing corpses walking around and some of them are even taunting her. A couple of the corpses even start going at it before her very eyes. It’s a high energy and violent opening but really has little if anything to do with the actual story. It is basically an elaborate and gory way to show the main characters state of mind. Simona is exhausted and goes home for some rest. That night Simona gets a visit from Betty Lenox, her father’s current flavour of the month. Simona’s aging playboy father keeps an apartment above hers for his lovers. As Betty is about to divulge a secret that is weighing heavy on her mind she hears the phone ring in her apartment, excuses herself and never returns. The next day a woman’s body shows up in the morgue with a shot to the head from an apparent suicide. After the woman is cleaned up Simona realizes it is Betty on the slab. The supporting characters begin showing up at this point.

The characters are quite lively and even though the dialog is a bit painful occasionally they are quite a bit of fun. Mimsy Farmer plays Autopsy’s central character Simona Sana. Simona is a very serious young woman with daddy issues and sexual hang-ups. Hallucinating and disoriented from exhaustion, she may be just a bit nutty to boot. Her racecar driving boyfriend Edgar doesn’t exactly seem like Simona’s perfect match. He is an energetic joker who likes to have fun and does his best to loosen Simona up. Father Paul Lenox, Betty’s brother had a visit from his sister the night she died and does not believe her death was suicide. He believes that Simona’s father was in some way responsible for his sister’s death. Father Lenox is the polar opposite of Edgar and is an intensely serious type like Simona. The good father does have one thing in common with Edgar; he too was once a racecar driver. In fact, it was after a horrific accident that killed innocent bystanders that made him turn to the cloth and still causes him to have seizures. Than we have dear old dad, who disappears and reappears throughout the film and his brother and business partner who seems to have his own agenda and dad’s ex-lover who wears a lot of revealing clothing and sketches dead bodies at the Museum of Criminal Behavior. And last but not least is a creepy landlord who is mean to his dog and an even creepier co-worker who can’t keep his hands to himself.

Convoluted plots are pretty common in Giallo. Red herrings and unrelated subplots should be expected. Director Armando Crispino offers little in the way of clues making pretty much everyone in the film a suspect. Again, not uncommon, except this time around I felt under whelmed and disappointed by the reveal. When I dislike an ending it leaves a black cloud over the entire film. Fortunately Autopsy has enough bright spots to break through the clouds. Interesting characters and good performances from the cast, particularly Barry Primus who plays Father Lenox are hindered occasionally by bad dubbing but are nonetheless entertaining. Crispino’s visuals are great. The scenery and sets are amazing and it moves along at a good pace. The footage of solar flares placed throughout the film is a bit on the cheesy side, but I rather dug it. It also features yet another brilliant Ennio Morricone score. I loved the way Morricone uses a woman’s voice over the music, it really went a long way to creating a creepy mood. Most of the violence actually takes place in the films first 15 minutes and there is very little graphic violence after that. Much of the horror is provided by mood and autopsy photographs.

Some questionable dialog and a disappointing ending prevent me from giving Autopsy a higher score but I cannot deny the film is actually quite entertaining. Autopsy looks great, has a good pace and mood, features lively and interesting characters, a great soundtrack and provides its share of memorable scenes. Despite some issues, I enjoyed Autopsy and I’m giving it the Goregirl seal of approval. Recommended.

Dungeon Rating: 3.5/5

Directed By: Armando Crispino

Starring: Mimsy Farmer, Barry Primus, Ray Lovelock, Carlo Cattaneo, Angela Goodwin, Gaby Wagner, Massimo Serato, Ernesto Colli, Leonardo Severini, Eleonora Morana, Antonio Casale

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