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Case Number 07755: Small Claims Court

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The Autopsy Files

HBO // 1995 // 120 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // October 12th, 2005

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All Rise...

Judge Patrick Naugle once poked what he thought was a dead body with a stick. It asked him if he could spare some change.

The Charge

The dead speak volumes.

The Case

It's common knowledge that dead men tell no tales. On HBO's chilling series The Autopsy Files (this release celebrates the show's 10th anniversary), viewers learn that this statement rings false. The dead can speak, and not because they're wandering around a George A. Romero movie. Modern science has proven that even when someone's life stats cease to function, it doesn't mean that they can't communicate what happened in their last breaths. One of the country's leading criminal pathologists, Dr. Michael Baden takes us on a tour of the human body, post-death. His stories about child abusers, murderous thugs, and vile suicides will disturb even the most steel-stomached viewer. Get ready for life after death. Get ready for The Autopsy Files.

Well, here's a creepy yet fascinating title. The Autopsy Files will quench the thirst of anyone sporting a morbid fascination with murder, or those who love things like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Because I love horror movies, something like The Autopsy Files speaks to me, and it says "Patrick, you're a sick little puppy."

The show is exactly what it sounds like: a peek into the cases of Dr. Baden, a renowned forensic pathologist. Broken up into different case files, the show uncovers mysteries of the dead and how they spent their final moments on Earth. The show is chilling and methodical—and not for the squeamish.

I don't want to give away too much of the show (because its mystery and uniqueness comes from discovering the secrets behind the dead) except to say that there are some very disturbing stories packed into each episode. There are two 'segments' included on this disc. The first is titled "Autopsy: Confessions of a Medical Examiner" and the second "Autopsy 2: Voices of the Dead." The cases span everything from a torso floating in a river to a family with two sons killed the exact same way, but at different times. One story in particular disturbed me; it involved a mother who gave birth to nearly a dozen children, and all of them ended up dying in their infancy. Why and for what reason I'll leave for you to find out. In another segment, viewers discover the mystery behind a funhouse dummy mummy…and why a carnival ride seen by thousands ended up including a real live corpse!

HBO has consistently produced excellent programming. In a way, The Autopsy Files can be seen as something of a precursor to the acclaimed series Six Feet Under (a show that I give my highest recommendation to).

The Autopsy Files is presented in its original broadcast aspect ratio, 1.33:1 Full Frame. The show has various looks—some of the material is grainy, washed out and dull (this is due to the archival footage and photos used in the show). Interview segments with Dr. Baden and others are all in good shape with sharp colors and dark black levels.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English, as well as Dolby Mono 1.0 in Spanish. The 2.0 track does the job, and little else—there are no surround sounds or directional effects on this show (then again, none are needed). Dialogue, music, and effects are well heard (except for some of the archival video footage). No alternate subtitles are available on this disc.

The dead may speak, but when it comes to extra features they're rather silent. The Autopsy Files doesn't include a single extra feature.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 88

Perp Profile

Studio: HBO
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 120 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None








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