Autopsy (2008)

From the co-writer of not-very-good Argento flick Mother Of Tears and the shockingly bad Tobe Hooper fiasco The Toolbox Murders comes this excellent blood soaked horror comedy. With pedigree like that you would be forgiven for not expecting a whole lot from Autopsy, but this is one movie that delivers, in spades.

The plot is pretty flaccid stuff, the same old group of teen archetypes get into a car accident and mayhem soon follows. The kids find themselves in a strangely lit hospital complete with spooky patients, psychotic orderlies and lots of sharp scalpels. Like I say, it’s your basic horror setup but one that is filled with possibilities, most of which are milked so hard that blood spews from the teat. Director Adam Gierasch uses this familiarity to his advantage and spends only a few minutes setting up the characters, which is done excellently via camera phone footage and a photo montage over the opening credits.

Like it was lifted straight out of 42nd street in its prime, the gore is well realised whilst still being comedic. Choice scenes, such as of the teens tussling with a recently sutured patient, will make you giggle and retch in equal measure while others will startle you out of your skin. It is this mixture of shock tactics, tension, gore and comedy that really make this film stand out from the pack. Not many film makers can skate the thin line between horror and comedy so adeptly, but Gierasch nails the tone perfectly. The film is cut so efficiently that it’s more pacey than Joshua Jackson. It presents interesting directional choices and flat out sickness scene after scene in such a rapid-fire fashion it is impossible to get bored.

The acting is hit and miss as is often the case with these genre flicks, but the kids are all adequate in their roles. The real stars are Kill Bill’s Michael Bowen and No-Not-Danny-Trejo-The-Other-Latino-Who-Is-In-Everything Robert LaSardo as Mercy Hospital’s two orderlies, who both have impeccable comic timing and bounce off each other like a seasoned double act. Erstwhile T-1000, Robert Patrick, crops a few times as Dr. Benway (get the reference?) and does his best while looking like an elongated Harvey Keitel.

The dialogue is snappy and, while there is a faint whiff of eau de pastiche, the ideas are fairly fresh so it begs the question: What went wrong with Gierasch and partner Jace Anderson’s previous scripts? There are only two people qualified to answer that, and I reckon they might think differently of them than I. Maybe Gierasch is just able to interpret his own words better than even the most renowned genre luminaries. Its fast, fun and incredibly gory injected with 40ccs of black humour and it’s bloody great.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

3 Comments on “Autopsy”

  1. Sarah Law says:

    Wow, I’ll be honest, I think 8 out of 10 is extraordinarily generous for this movie. I didn’t laugh once. In fact, until I just re-read your review, I didn’t realise there was even any comedy involved.

    The gore was good though, I’ll give it that but it just wasn’t original enough to get anything more than a 5.5 from me. It was like they’d watched Irreversible and thought “hmm, yeah a fire extinguisher makes a good weapon. *yoink*.”

    I think you and me just have very different ideas about our scoring systems. I gave District 9 an 8/10 because it was hugely original and brilliantly executed. Next to that, this doesn’t come close.

    • Jamie Carruthers says:

      I rate films based on what they are, what they make of the budget, what they represent to the genre and how much I dig them. I fully loved this movie, as you can see by its placement in my top ten of the decade. I thought it was a fun throwback movie, and I refuse to believe that you didn’t laugh when that tattoo’d dude was belt sanding the fingerprints off of the disembodied hands.

      I think comparing the extinguisher of Irreversible with extinguishers of films like this is a bit like comparing the ghosts of Poltergeist and Ghostbusters. They are just different.

      Autopsy is just a full ol’ time, and I dug it like no ones business. I could see this playing a midnight all up on the big drive in screens back in the day, and then being remembered as a genre classic.

  2. Sarah Law says:

    Believe it, I didn’t laugh. IMDb seems to agree with me about it not being a comedy.

    I can see it being played at midnight drive ins ‘back in the day’ too, but mainly because if it had been made 20 years ago, I’d think a lot more of it. It worked as a throwback movie but there are far better throwbacks out there that are more deserving of your 8 stars, Mr. Carruthers.

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