AUTOPSIA DE UN FANTASMA (1968)
aka Autopsy of a Ghost
Article 4360 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Ismael Rodriguez
Featuring Basil Rathbone, John Carradine, Amadee Chabot
What it is: Comedy
A ghost, trapped in the basement of the house of an inventor, is given a chance by Satan to release his soul if he can get a woman to fall in love with him and die for him.
Ten thoughts on AUTOPSIA DE UN FANTASMA
1) There’s a lot more going on in this movie than the plot description suggests, but my copy of this movie is in Spanish without subtitles, and the storyline about the ghost is the only one that I found documented enough to use here. There seems to be another plot about various parties trying to get hold of a lot of money; it that is so, then it’s possible that this movie may have been inspired by IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD, and given the aggressively manic nature of this movie, I would consider that a distinct possibility.
2) I suspect that this movie was made with the intention of being released abroad to English-speaking audiences. Not only does the movie feature three English-speaking actors (Carradine, Rathbone and Cameron Mitchell), but all of the signs that appear in the movie have an equivalent English-translated sign as well. Ironically (but not surprisingly), this does not appear to have happened.
3) If there’s one thing you can say about this movie, it does not hold back on its fantastic content. On top of the ghost and Satan, the movie has a talking skeleton, a laughing spider, a sorcerer of some sort who surrounds himself with women in bikinis, two robots, and an assortment of inventions.
4) I have to admit that the best part of the movie for me was the opening credits, which are unveiled by a variety of puppets (ghosts, demons, witches and skeletons). It’s energetic and creative.
5) Given that I didn’t see this movie in English, I should probably reserve judgment on its quality. However, given what I got from the other aspects of this movie (visuals, sound, editing, etc), I suspect that this one is in the running for one of the worst comedies ever made. It’s one of those movies that seems to be desperately and indiscriminately throwing every single comic idea it can muster at you in the hopes that it will stick.
6) This was Basil Rathbone’s last movie. I take my hat off to the guy. Even in this context, you can see that he’s out there trying to give his all.
7) As for the other two English-speaking actors, both John Carradine and Cameron Mitchell are notorious for having appeared in a plethora of horrible movies in their careers. Still, I rarely recall of them appearing together, so I did a search on shared credits on IMDB, and found that they only appeared in three movies together – this one, the dreaded FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND, and a 1986 movie called THE TOMB. If the ratings on IMDB are to be trusted, this movie is the best of the lot.
8) One thing I will say about this movie; with its rapid-fire editing and its non-stop action, it’s full of energy. But then, so is a five-year old overfed with sugar and allowed to run rampant. And for me, watching this movie was like trying to put up with a child like that.
9) One plus I will give the movie is that some of the puppetry work is quite good; the walking, talking skeleton is actually fairly well done.
10) I did laugh once during the movie. At one point of the movie, Rathbone tries to get a woman to fall in love with him by doing the Apache dance with her. It’s the twist the movie gives to this dance that amused me. I suspect this is a joke that’s been waiting to be made for years; it’s a pity it’s in a movie that is mostly just loud and obnoxious.