The short film known as "Alien Autopsy" was released in 1995, and if you were even remotely aware of media, ufology, and/or pop culture back then, you would have been aware of it to some extent. It was a 17-minute, black-and-white film that supposedly depicted the autopsy of a dead alien, allegedly one of the bodies recovered from the 1947 Roswell, New Mexico crash site. It was released by Ray Santilli, who claimed he had been given the footage from an "anonymous" retired military cameraman.
Before the alien autopsy footage made him a household name throughout the globe, Ray Santilli was responsible for producing the album by novelty band The Tweets, that unleashed The Birdie Song/The Chicken Dance upon the world. His various companies over the years have produced a number of re-recordings of hit records and TV documentaries (Merlin Group and Orbital Media Ltd). He catapulted himself onto the worldwide stage, however, on August 28, 1995, when the Alien Autopsy footage was first broadcast worldwide. In the US, it was broadcast on FOX under the title Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction, hosted by Jonathan Frakes; in the UK it was broadcast on Channel 4 as part of The Roswell Incident, as part of their long-running Secret History documentary series.
In the film, a strange-looking humanoid lies on a morgue table, apparently (hopefully?) dead. The humanoid has an elongated head, with a large forehead and a pointed chin. Most of its facial features were more or less human, albeit somewhat smaller than a "regular" human's, except for its eyes, which were large and black. The humanoid was around five feet in height. It was naked, yet had no visible genitalia (although there is some pixelation at the groin area and some people claim that the humanoid is female). Its abdomen was somewhat bulbous and protruding. It appeared to have four fingers and a thumb on each hand; however, there are brief shots of what are allegedly consoles designed for hands with five fingers and a thumb. The only injuries visible on its body are a badly mangled right leg.
Two individuals, presumably doctors, wearing bulky hazmat suits, enter the shot and start performing an autopsy on the body. This includes the traditional Y-incision down the torso, removing various organs through that. The humanoid's brain is also removed, as per normal autopsy procedures, and at one point what appears to be a black film or "lenses" are removed from the humanoid's eyes. There is no dialogue audible throughout the film.
Ray Santilli claimed that he was first shown the footage in Cleveland, Ohio in 1992 or 1993. He had gone there looking for footage for a music documentary, and while meeting with the cameraman who had said footage, he was asked if he wanted to see some "very valuable" footage that the man had shot while serving in the armed forces. The footage, Santilli was told, was from the Roswell crash of 1947, and contained footage of crash recovery and, of course, the autopsy footage. Unfortunately, or so Santilli and his associates claimed, a large portion of the footage was deemed too fragile to be used to even project the film, much less transfer it to VHS. This allegedly included footage of the recovered crashed spacecraft, although Santilli apparently drew a sketch of what he had seen on the footage, which has been described as a "teardrop" shaped object with upward "fins" on both sides of the rounded back.
As part of his attempts to prove the authenticity of the footage, Santilli submitted what he claimed was part of the original 16mm film strip, to Kodak. Kodak confirmed that the film's edge codes indicated a date of either 1927, 1947, or 1967. However, a spokesman from Kodak also said:
and what he's done... is given me a bit of the leader, or given us a bit of the leader and said this is the same as the neg, this is from the same bit of film.
As part of the Fox documentary, various experts, including special effects and makeup artist Stan Winston, cinematographer Allen Daviau, and forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, were asked for their opinion on the footage; these experts allegedly considered the footage and procedures to be authentic. Stan Winston and ufologist Kevin D Randle, who was also on the show, have since stated that they in fact believed and stated the footage to be a hoax, but that the show edited their statements to appear otherwise; therefore all of the statements made on the show have to be viewed with skepticism.
In fact, despite Time magazine declaring that the film had sparked a debate "with an intensity not lavished on any home movie since the Zapruder film", the general consensus, even among ufologists and UFO enthusiasts, was that the footage was fake. There were some who believed it was genuine, and a few still do, even now (in 2019, for example, it was reported that CIA scientist Kit Green had analyzed the video in 2001 and considered it to be genuine), but unfortunately for these people, reality was not on their side.
In 2006, Santilli admitted that the footage was fake. Well, Santilli called it a "restoration" or a "recreation". He claimed that he really did see the genuine footage back in 1992, but by the time he bought the footage, most of it had deteriorated beyond repair because of heat and humidity, and only a few frames were left. So he and fellow producer Gary Shoefield commissioned a "recreation" of the original footage, allegedly inserting the surviving frames into this new "recreated" footage - although they have never identified where these frames are in the film. The "recreated" footage was shot over a three-week period in an empty flat in London. Two alien dummies were created and filled with sheep brains set in raspberry jam, chicken entrails, and other animal parts that they got from a local butcher.
(All of this coincidentally coincided with the release of the 2006 comedy film Alien Autopsy, starring UK entertainers Ant and Dec, making the whole thing look suspiciously like a very long con to gain some notoriety from the fake footage and then make a movie about the whole thing.)
Today, the vast majority of people accept that the Santilli alien autopsy footage is and was always a hoax, even within the UFO community, which can be more... "open-minded" than maybe they should be. Occasionally one can still find a "true believer", but they are very few and far between, and nowadays the film stands much more as an example of a hoax as well as a lesson on not blindly believing in something, no matter how much you might want to.
Alien autopsy (Wikipedia)
"AUTOPSY OR FRAUD-TOPSY?" (Time, via Wayback Machine)
Alien autopsy (RationalWiki)
Alien Autopsy FAQ (Internet Sacred Texts Archive)