Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Mimsy Farmer, Barry Primus
In their line of Italian horror movies and thrillers, Anchor Bay Entertainment as repeatedly released some previously hard-to-get movies on DVD in their uncut and unrated versions. One of their latest efforts in that direction is director Armando Crispino’s shocking thriller "Autopsy" from 1975 that also known under the name "The Victim" and its original title "Macchie solari."
Hailed as one of the great genre entries, Anchor Bay has once again been able to reinsert footage in the movie that was previously cut from the release for its domestic distribution, and releases this newly restored version on this DVD.
A young forensic pathologist (Mimsy Farmer), is doing research on suicide theories and spends much time in the morgue analyzing the corpses of suicide victims. Eventually the morbid surroundings get to her and she begins to have hallucinations of corpses rising from the dead, which makes her private life a miserable mess.
One day, a body arrives in the morgue that strikes her interest. Soon she realizes that she just talked to that woman the day before, and that she showed no indication of suicidal tendencies. When the woman’s brother (Barry Primus) steps forward to identify the body, he too is certain that his sister was a victim of a set-up murder rather than a suicide. A series of other murders disguised as suicides in their vicinity confirms their suspicions. The two decide to join forces to find out what really happened to the girl and soon they stumble into a web of intrigue and murder that takes them to the brink of their sanity and eventually, their lives.
"Autopsy" is a bit dragging at times, which is a signature of many Euro-thrillers of the time. It takes time to establish its characters and as a result not too much is really happening to propel the story forward during certain parts of the film. To compensate for this development, Crispino makes sure to insert very impressive shocks when they are in place. It balances the overall film and makes a strong impression, which gets viewers over the drier scenes of character development. Especially in the beginning, the film pulls all the stops, giving us a good look at the city morgue with its cadavers, while morticians and coroners are going about their work. These scenes are definitely not for the whimsical, as many of the make up effects are extremely realistic and disturbing.
Anchor Bay has prepared a brand-new transfer of the movie for this release that is <$16x9,enhanced for 16x9> television sets and faithfully restores the film’s original 1.85:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio. The framing appears accurate without cropping any picture information. Although the source print exhibits some grain, the DVD transfer appears mostly stable, obviously reducing the grain and noise for a better image quality. The film carries the signature European 70s color scheme with its highly desaturated colors, yet very clashing color designs. The colors are nicely reproduced in the film, faithfully reproducing this anticipated bleak look of the film. The black level on the disc creates deep shadows that do not lose definition and the highlights are strong without overly emphasized. No edge-enhancement is evident in the transfer, which gives the presentation a very natural looking quality without creating an image that appears unnaturally sharp and introduces ringing artifacts. The compression on the disc is also very good without distracting artifacts of any sort.
"Autopsy" contains a monaural English audio track that is featured in a 2-channel <$DD,Dolby Digital> presentation, as well as the original Italian track. While the Italian track sounds a bit tighter, the English dub uses somewhat more ambient sound effects to recreate the atmosphere of the film’s locations. The dub is of average quality and the voice actors often appear emotionless and unattached, creating rather unrealistic sounding dialogues at times. If you do master the Italian language, you will – as always – be well advised to watch the movie in its original version. Since there are no subtitles on the disc, everyone else is forced to watch the movie’s dubbed version.
Ennio Moricone has contributed a score to this film that is harsh and edgy, and oftentimes chilling as well. It nicely complements the movie and helps build tension and anticipation for what is to come. Well placed cues and screaming sounds help to intimidate the viewer and to keep you on the edge.
As I mentioned before, Anchor Bay has been able to reinsert some footage into the film that had been cut from its release her in the US before. Interestingly it is mostly footage that shows newspaper clippings in Italian language and the reason these moments have been removed were certainly to give the film more of a domestic feel. Since there is no dub available for these moments, Anchor Bay reverts to English subtitles during those moments, leaving the original Italian audio intact.
The disc also contains the movie’s domestic trailer and a trailer under the movie’s alternative title "The Victim." It is interesting how different the trailers are and how "The Victim" creates the impression of a very gruesome horror film, while the trailer for "Autopsy" accentuates the thriller elements.
"Autopsy" is a typical Italian giallo thriller and fans of Dario Argento’s work will love this film. It slowly builds tension and creates some great shocks, while also offering some well designed imagery of Rome. Anchor Bay has once again created a great DVD for this rather obscure movie and finally gives American audiences to see this film in its original glory without cuts and blemishes.