Movie Reviews - Autopsy, Autopsia, Avenging Eagle, Awful Dr. Orlof

Autopsy (C, 1974) AKA Tarot, Tension, The Victim, Macche Solari
Mimsy Farmer is a frigid pathologist writing on a thesis on suicide who's been working too hard - she has visions of some of her autopsy subjects getting off the slabs and having sex. One eerily-smiling corpse looks a lot like Rudy Ray Moore! She's been busy lately because a rash of suicides - apparently caused by the influence of solar activity - is sweeping Rome. One girl shoots herself on the beach, but her brother - a mentally-unbalanced priest (Barry Primus) who used to be a race-car driver who accidentally killed spectators in a wreck - doesn't believe it was a suicide. He works with Mimsy to try to prove it was murder, and they discover the girl was having an affair with Mimsy's father. Meanwhile the suicides continue - her landlord hangs himself and her father jumps off of a building and ends up a vegetable. Mimsy finds out that the girl wasn't a suicide, and that there's a twisted conspiracy afoot, and she may become the next victim of it unless Barry can save her. This is more of a giallo-style mystery than a regular horror film, and it has lots of nudity and sex. There are rumors that actual autopsy footage was used for this, but it's only special effects... although fairly-effective and well-researched ones. The autopsy scenes are made more disturbing because one of the pathologists is a pervert. The living dead hallucinations at the beginning are pretty creepy - too bad the rest of the film didn't go in that direction. The mystery is so complicated that it's hard to follow, but the movie does have its moments... it just doesn't live up to its full potential. Be careful - there's another movie on video shelves (if the tapes are still intact - the thing's probably been out of print for well over a decade) called Autopsy - that one's not really a horror movie, but a meditation on death, and it does include real autopsy footage. This movie sometimes shared a double-feature bill with Torso and includes an odd, kind of annoying score by Ennio Morricone. -zwolf

Autopsy (C, 1973) AKA Autopsia
Weird, obscure Spanish drama formed around a lot of real autopsy footage. A war reporter sees a girl give birth in the middle of a battle in Vietnam, and then sees children burned by napalm (that famous footage from Hearts and Minds) and then goes through firefights and gets badly wounded and almost dies. He goes home and recovers, but becomes obsessed with mortality and starts interviewing people on the street about death. Disturbed by people's indifference, he decides to witness an autopsy. Scenes of street interviews and such are intercut with actual footage of post-mortem dissection; the body is disemboweled, ribs are sheared open, organs are sliced and removed, and the skull is sawed open to expose the brain, while the narrator drones on and on, waxing philosophic and quoting poetry. Between all of this is footage of people dancing in the forest and walking down the street, etc., to show that life goes on. And it all teaches him that life is short and death is long but is natural, so life should be enjoyed and death should be respected but not feared. And that's all very nice, but face it, the only reason anybody's watching this thing is to see the sicko autopsy footage... which admittedly delivers the goods, but you gotta sit through a lot of boring pretentious dreck just to get your prize of being grossed out. Still, it's the only viable and hygienic way to watch an autopsy in your own living room. If you can dig up the video, that is - they're kinda scarce. No major loss... -zwolf

Avenging Eagle (C, 1978) AKA Long xie shi san ying, Cold Blooded Eagles
A friendship is formed between a pair of drifting kung fu masters when they meet in the desert. One of them is a refugee from the Eagle Clan, a mob led by an evil master who abuses them from childhood so they'll grow to be inhuman killers; any boy who shows any kindness in this training would be tortured to death for it. Now that he's gone renegade and started to regain some humanity, the rest of his clan is hunting him. His new friend mysteriously decides to help him battle the Eagles, perhaps out of friendship, or from a hidden agenda of his own. This is one case where the plot is almost as powerful as the fighting... there's actual pathos here, and the acting skills of the late, lamented Alexander Fu Sheng (the guy in white with the wrist blades) and Ti Lung (the guy in black with the tri-sectional staff who looks a lot like Wang Yu did in the great Blood of the Dragon) keep pretty good pace with their fighting prowess, which is on good display in the climax where they face off against the evil master, who's donned a pair of wicked brass claws. Gotta love this one. -zwolf

Awful Dr. Orlof (B&W, 1962) AKA Gritos en la noche, Cries in the Night, Demon Doctor, Diabolical Dr. Satan, Horrible Docteur Orlof, Screams in the Night
Some people consider Jess Franco an underrated genius. They're wrong. He's a pitiful hack. But this, his first major movie, would make you think that he had some promise. He was actually trying on this one, and although the pacing is for shit and the performances are stiff, it does have some atmosphere and style. A variation on Eyes Without a Face, this mad scientist sickie stars Franco fave Howard Vernon as the title doctor, who's been using his blind, mute brother Morpho to kidnap women so he can graft their skin onto the scarred face of his daughter. Morpho - who has a scarred up, mannequin-like face and staring, plastic-looking eyes - has a tendency to bite the girls he catches, but Orlof decides he needs to start bringing them home alive, because he wants to attain maximum freshness for the skin grafts by slicing it off of them while they're still alive. A ballet dancer is a few steps ahead of the police in investigating the killings and gets in serious trouble. Because this is a Franco film, there's not much in the way of gore (they make a few weak attempts, though, but it's nothing you couldn't do at home), but there are a few bare titties here and there. The cinematography isn't bad, so even though it is another bad Franco flick, at least it looks better than most. There were several sequels, and apparently Franco has a remake in the works. Somebody stop him! -zwolf

(And that's the entirety of the archived "A" film reviews... hooray!)

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