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Directed by Directed by Adam Gierasch
Written by Written by Jace Anderson, E.L. Katz, Adam Gierasch
Starring Starring Robert Patrick, Jessica Lowndes, Jenette Goldstein, Michael Bowen
Produced by Produced by Warren Zide, Jessica Horowitz
And so we come to the halfway mark on the After Dark Horrorfest, and it seems as though my initial projections were about right. The quality only continues to go up with Autopsy.
Autopsy sends five college kids out for one last good time together, and where do they wind up? Mardi Gras. You probably won’t be terribly surprised when I tell you the quintet gets hammered into insensate oblivion but you might be surprised to find they were dumb enough to go driving afterward. After the nigh-inevitable car crash, they’re taken to Mercy Hospital, a hospital conveniently located about five miles from the back end of nowhere. From there, they discover that there’s something very, very wrong with the hospital in the middle of nowhere (as if we really needed to be told that? Hospitals in the middle of nowhere ALWAYS have something wrong with them.) and it’s likely to leave them all dead.
I liked this movie, almost in spite of itself. Yes, they used a lot of good old fashioned (and BAD old fashioned) horror movie conventions like the abandoned hospital and the lunatic doctor and the equally lunatic but somehow servile staff of followers who for some reason tag along with this alpha male madman (alpha madman?) and do his bidding. But where this movie really shines is in its casual depiction of medical brutality at its most excessive and its most lunatic. If you’ve seen any of the trailers for this one, you’ve no doubt seen the patently incredible sequence where a person has been opened up and his organs removed, only to be hung from cheesecloth-lined wire cages throughout the room and left to operate. Basically, they’ve got a guy’s circulatory system spread out over a fifteen by fifteen room, and everything’s working. The lungs inflate and deflate, the heart beats weakly but steadily, and the guy is alive but his internal organs are literally spread out over the entire room. This is just jaw-dropping, folks, and it practically begs to be seen.
Even better was the casting—I don’t know about you, but Robert “T-1000” Patrick is the perfect choice for a doctor who looks like he stepped whole and breathing out of the 1950s. He’s even got the hairstyle down. Everyone else is basically there just to support Patrick, and Patrick in turn steals the show, presenting us with an absolutely horrifying picture of the Hippocratic Oath gone horribly, horribly awry. By the time you discover just what they’re all doing in that hospital you’re going to be just patently amazed.
So why, you might be asking yourself, didn’t I just hand this thing my maximum rating and have done with it, considering that my lips are getting browned from the sheer buttkissery going on here. Simple—the ending is a wreck.
I don’t know what they were thinking, but doing a freeze-frame-scream ending like it’s some kind of lousy seventies knockoff and then following it up with a half-baked twist so easy to see coming it might as well have filed an RSVP back in the opening title crawl just screams weak sauce. It screams of a sauce so weak it might as well be packaged as juice, in point of sheerest fact.
The alternate ending, however, is something of an improvement if only because the original was just complete garbage. Also included in the special features menu will be Miss Horrorfest webisodes, a behind the scenes featurette, audio options, English and Spanish subtitles, and director, writer, and producer commentary.
All in all, this movie was great up until about the last ten minutes where it just collapses from having blown its entire quota of awesome on the preceding footage. That in mind, this movie can be forgiven its small lapse in not saving a little for the end, and definitely ranks among the better titles of the After Dark Horrorfest.
Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.
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