Alien Autopsy appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. For a standard-def DVD, the transfer looked pretty good.
Sharpness seemed fine. A few examples of softness and jaggies cropped up through the film, but these were minor. Overall definition looked solid. I noticed no shimmering, and edge enhancement was minor. No source flaws marred the presentation. Some mosquito noise occasionally interfered, but not to a substantial degree. (The “modern day” shots with the documentarian did look uglier, but that was intentional.)
Don’t expect a broad palette here, but within the design parameters, colors looked acceptable. The film tended toward a chilly sensibility that made sense for its subject, and it displayed reasonable clarity. Blacks seemed dark and full, while shadows were reasonably smooth. Some interiors came across as a bit dense, but those instances weren’t problematic. Nothing excelled, but the image was more than acceptable.
I thought the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Autopsy was perfectly decent. I didn’t expect fireworks from the soundscape, and it remained generally subdued. It was a front-heavy affair that usually didn’t offer much more than general ambience and stereo music. A few sequences broadened moderately to the surrounds, but those remained infrequent.
No issues with audio quality occurred. Speech was consistently distinct and concise, and I detected no problems with edginess or intelligibility. Effects played a modest role and never taxed the system. They displayed decent accuracy, though. Music was a more prominent participant. The track boasted good life and definition to the various tunes, as those showed solid clarity and depth. This was an unexceptional soundtrack, but it was fine for this sort of film.
Given the film’s obscurity – and bargain retail price - Autopsy comes with a surprising number of extras. We open with an audio commentary from director Jonny Campbell. He provides a running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, sets and locations, music, cinematography and visual choices, recreating the original “autopsy” footage, and other production areas.
Though not uninformative, Campbell delivers an awfully dry track. Locations remain his main focus; it often feels like he does little more than tell us where they shot various scenes. Other info does emerge, and we learn a decent amount about the production, but the presentation remains rather slow, so the track doesn’t become engaging.
The Making of Ant and Dec’s Alien Autopsy runs 30 minutes, 55 seconds. Hosted by actors Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, it also includes remarks from Campbell, writer/producer Will Davies, the real Gary Shoefield and Ray Santilli, producer Barnaby Thompson, alien maker John Humphreys, and actors Bill Pullman, Madeleine Moffat, Götz Otto, John Cater, Omid Djalilli, Andrew Greenough, Lee Oakes and Harry Dean Stanton. “Making” provides a brisk run through aspects of the production and its premiere. Along the way, we get a few decent behind the scenes elements, but the show exists for laughs and promotion more than anything else; it does precious little to inform us about the movie’s creation.
Next we find a collection of 12 Deleted Scenes. These fill a total of 23 minutes, 42 seconds and mostly expand on characters and situations. The majority come from the third act, and the longest digs into the contentious Gary/Ray relationship when their endeavors go sour. Some of the shorter ones have some value, but the most extended ones really drag.
We can watch these with or without commentary from Campbell. He gives us some of the same basics in his main commentary – hello, locations! – but also throws in some other info about the clips. He doesn’t always do a great job of explaining why he cut the sequences, but he covers them in a decent manner.
We also find an Alternate Opening. It goes for 47 seconds and shows documentarian Morgan Banner as he arrives for his meeting. It’s not interesting or memorable.
Finally, the disc includes Outtakes. These occupy two minutes, 31 seconds and display the usual allotment of goofs and giggles. Nothing terribly amusing surfaces.
(Note that although we see parts of the Jonathan Frakes-hosted Alien Autopsy special from 1995 during the movie, the DVD doesn’t include it as an extra. That’s a missed opportunity.)
With its “truth is stranger than fiction” story, Alien Autopsy provides moderate entertainment. The film tends to explore its tale in a pretty ordinary manner, but it still keeps us occupied. The DVD offers fairly good picture and audio as well as an acceptable set of supplements. This isn’t a great movie or DVD, but it does okay in both regards.