Today, we are hopping in a time machine and going back to the year 1995! Try to picture yourself and the world at that time, for some of us, myself included, that might be hard due to the fact that we weren’t alive yet. Really try to imagine the world without the grip of social media or smart phones.

For the most part, television reigned supreme as the main form of technological entertainment. Although, one thing that hasn’t changed much about humans in 27 years, is our fascination with life outside of our planet and when Fox aired Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction? Tens of millions were glued to their TV sets.


You have to understand, aliens and reality specials were Fox’s bread and butter at the time especially as X-Files continued to garner massive ratings. Combining the two with distorted footage of an alleged alien autopsy that was believed to be obtained by a London video producer named Ray Santilli, who himself claimed to have purchased it from a military photographer in 1992, was sure to be an absolute audience hit. Add in that the film was said to be shot by the United States Army shortly after recovering a body from the legendary 1947 crash in Roswell and you have every UFO lover glued to their TV!

Santilli sent portions of the film to Kodak in an effort to confirm whether the footage was legitimate or staged. According to Santilli, Kodak stated that the portion of the film they viewed could have been manufactured in 1927, 1947 or 1967.

In order to both obtain the footage and protect themselves against accusations of defrauding the public, Fox paid Santilli nearly $250,000. Fox even went a step further in protecting themselves by adding the “Fact or Fiction?” portion to the title of the run as to neither officially confirm or deny the legitimacy of the footage and rather, leave it in the eyes of the viewer. Fox’s framing of the footage was especially important as the autopsy, comparatively, was far more convincing than anything ever seen related to U.F.Os or paranormal sightings at the time.

Ratings Out of this World

The framing by Fox was done masterfully and the special ended up being a ratings smash! Believe it or not, the alien autopsy received an 8.1 share, meaning 8.1 percent of the 94.5 million homes with televisions were watching it!

It wasn’t long until skeptics inevitably began pointing out inconsistencies that called into question the legitimacy of the footage. C. Eugene Emery, Jr. a writer for The Skeptical Inquirer pointed out the ease at which the brain was removed from the skull without the removal of connective tissue as highly suspect.

Alien Autopsy Exhibit at UFO Museum - Roswell, New Mexico

Alien Autopsy Exhibit at UFO Museum – Roswell, New Mexico. Credit: TravelingOtter Via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).

In 1997, skeptics called out Santilli when he posted photos of the film’s canisters with “Department of Defense” written on them. Skeptics noted that if the film was truly shot in 1947 the Department of Defense would not have been officially established and was rather known as the “National Military Establishment.”

A Fake Take

It wasn’t until 2006 that Santilli confessed that the video wasn’t really from 1947 and that the ‘alien’ in the video was just a dummy. Santilli still refused to call the film a hoax, though. It’s his position that it was, instead, a recreation of a real alien autopsy that he had obtained. Santilli stated:

“In 1993 or 1994 we saw the footage of the autopsy in its original form and brought it back to the UK. Within that year or so the footage had completely deteriorated. The only thing that was left was a few frames that we could use as reference. What we did was restore the original footage frame-by-frame over a very long period of time. We set about simply restoring what was a very damaged film.”

Ultimately, we may never know the full story and the original origins of the film. What we do know is Spyros Melaris, who helped Santilli create the footage, stated that he never saw any ‘real’ tape and that there were no discussions about recreating any pre-existing footage.

In regard to the special effects, the blood was jam, the intestines were from chickens and the brain was from a sheep.

So, there you have it – from being branded as the never-before-seen lost footage of an ‘alien autopsy’, to a denial of a hoax plot all the way to jam, chicken intestines and a sheep brain. Did this video captivate your mind at a young age like mine when I stumbled on it on YouTube? Let me know in the comments below. Until next time, I’m Jordan Neese, and this is Ripley’s Rewind.


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