September 22, 2001
In 1995 London based businessman Ray Santilli caused what has been arguably the biggest controversy in the entire history of UFO research when he launched his 'Alien Autopsy' film across the front pages of magazines and via the TV screen in over 20 different countries. By far the most popular TV documentary made at the time was the Fox Network's 'Alien Autopsy - Fact or Fiction?' which has often been repeated on numerous cable and satellite stations.
For those who are unaware of this controversial film, a brief recap might be in order. London video producer Ray Santilli claimed that in l992 he was in Cleveland, Ohio in the USA looking for vintage film clips of rock-n-roll performers from the l950's. People like Elvis Presley and Pat Boone were at the top of his list. Santilli claimed that he met an elderly gentleman from who he purchased a rare clip of the late Elvis live on stage. The elderly chap had filmed the piece himself while working as a freelance cameraman in l950's. Shortly before returning home Santilli was contacted by this elderly cameraman again who this time had something different to offer. The story he told was that prior to being a freelance cameraman he was a cameraman with the US Army and in l947 he had been flown to Roswell, New Mexico on a special assignment. Initially he was informed that he was to film the crash of a Soviet spy plane but on arrival it became clear that this was no Russian plane. Instead he claimed to have filmed the UFO crash at Roswell in l947 and not only that, but the actual autopsy of 2 of the dead aliens.
Quite naturally Santilli was more than interested and at a later date he visited the cameraman at his home to view this other footage. To his amazement it did indeed appear to show the autopsy of an alien. Santilli immediately agreed to buy the film for cash, the only other condition being that he was never to reveal the identify of the cameraman himself. Santilli, not having the amount of money involved, reported to be around $150,000, but never confirmed, eventually turned to his German business partner Volker Spielberg for assistance. Over the next couple of years Santilli purchased the film and transported it to the UK where it was transferred to video. In l993 Santilli contacted myself to see if I might be able to assist in the making of a UFO documentary. Eventually he told me of the film he had purchased and his plans to commercialise it. It was not until early l995 that I first saw any of the film. My wife Sue and I visited Santilli's offices in London on several occasions to view the film. At the time I was the conference organiser for the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA) and already had a conference planned for August l995. I asked Santilli if he would show the film at the conference and he agreed to do so.
In the meantime, after a private screening organised by Santilli in London to an invited audience only, he set about selling the rights to the film to a wide variety of publishers and TV companies around the world. First to publish stills from the film was VSD in France and soon copies were flying around the world via the internet. The day after our conference in August l995 saw the film broadcast on TV around the world. And the rest, they say, is history.
There have been numerous claims and counter claims surrounding this film and there simply is not enough room to cover all of these here. But a brief look at one or two of them are included here. Santilli has always claimed that the film has been tested and dated as being l947 vintage. This is in fact incorrect. Snippets of film have been seen and tested but none of them had any scenes on them from the film broadcast on TV or seen on video. Therefore, the exact date of the film still remains open to question. Claims by Santilli about other scenes such a the crash site being on the film have also proven unfounded. Most UFO researchers have dismissed the film as a fake, usually accusing Santilli as the hoaxer and in some instances even with my assistance. The fact remains, however, that there is no proof that Santilli is a hoaxer and there may even be some evidence to the contrary.
For the last 3 years or so I have been assisted in further research into the so-called 'Alien Autopsy' film by my colleague Tim Matthews. Tim is a well known UFO sceptic in Britain as well as an author and lecturer on the subject. In order to keep the research into this film balanced I felt that Tim was the ideal researcher to ask for assistance. Prior to this I had worked with the German researcher Michael Hesemann and together we co-authored 'BEYOND ROSWELL' which featured some of the early research into the film. What I am to attempt now is to look at some new and old information to see if it either supports the authenticity of the film or adds to the weight of it being a fraud.
SGT. CLIFFORD STONE
First off is a segment of information that seems to have gone largely unnoticed in our book 'BEYOND ROSWELL.' Earlier this year US researcher Steven Greer held a special event in the USA as part of his Disclosure Project. Many military personnel stood up in front of a media audience telling of their involvement or knowledge of the UFO phenomena. One such witness was Sgt. Clifford Stone, US Army (retired). Stone was interviewed in l996 by US researcher Ted Loman and he claimed that in l969 he was stationed at Fort Lee, Virginia. He was part of a Quick Reaction Team. During his work he had to take a Lieutenant to Fort Belvoir. While at Fort Belvoir he and another person, an airman with the USAF, went for a walk around the base. While on a tour of the base they came across an auditorium, a bit like a small theatre. They were looking down through a Plexiglas window into this auditorium which was filled with military personnel who seemed to be watching UFO films. Stone and his colleague thought they must be trailers for Science Fiction movies of some kind. Stone also saw a film depicting bodies of creatures that were not human. Eventually Stone and his colleague were caught and were 'debriefed' in an extremely firm manner. Basically, they were ordered not to reveal anything and that they had indeed seen nothing. Reluctantly, both parties agreed to this. It was not until l995 when Stone saw the 'Alien Autopsy' film that he made the connection between it and what he had seen back in l969. Stone was convinced that the film he saw in l969 and the Santilli film were one of the same.
Obviously if Santilli had faked the film Sgt. Clifford Stone could not have seen it in the apparent ownership of the US military in l969. Sgt. Stone is only one of several former US military personnel who claim to have seen the film while on active duty long in advance of Santilli's ownership.
Many so-called experts have argued against the films authenticity stating that it was filmed on video and not 16mm film as claimed. All the genuine film and photographic experts that we have been in contact with disagree and are more than convinced that there is enough evidence to suggest it was indeed shot on 16mm. One man outside of Santilli's company who knows this for sure is Mr. Frank Salas. The reason for this being that Salas is the technician who transferred the original 16mm film onto video at his place of work in London. We have 2 taped interviews with Salas and he informed us that at the request of Santilli's company he was sent the film and transferred it onto video. It was transferred on to both VHS and Betacam. He told us that some of the film was in pretty poor quality but other parts of it were not too bad at all. Salas gave us detailed information of how he transferred the 16mm film onto video including the types of equipment he used etc. He was in no doubt that it was indeed 16mm but he would not guess at its age as this was not his area of expertise. Salas went on to state that it was indeed the autopsy film he transferred and that he was under no added pressure to keep this secret other than the normal client confidentiality. In fact, Salas would only agree to answer our questions after receiving a fax giving him permission to do so by Ray Santilli himself. Santilli did this at our request. As far as Salas was concerned, if this was a hoax, it was a very, very good one, but he did not think it was.
So, for the first time we have someone outside of Santilli's company who actually handled the 16mm film and saw the autopsy images on it. This, according to many, was not possible as it was a contemporary hoax filmed only on video. A military witness from l969, a civilian film technician, but is there anyone else who can support either of these stories?
Mike Maloney is the Group Chief Photographer at Mirror Group Newspapers and is the only working press photographer to be awarded fellowships from both the Royal Photographic Society and the British Institute of Professional Photographers. To date, Maloney has collected 96 major photographic awards including Press Photographer of the Year three times. He is in fact the most highly awarded photographer in the UK. He has mingled with the powerful and the famous including dinner in the Kremlin with President Gorbachev, dinner at The White House with President Reagan, lunch in Monte Carlo with Grace Kelly and dinner with Jackie Onassis in New York. Maloney has said on tape that in the l970's he was covering a couple of movies at the Disney Corporation in California. While dining with the head of the Disney studios Maloney was introduced to 4 of the original Disney animators. While chatting with them he was introduced to another person who in turn invited him to the viewing of some most unusual films. He was invited to this man's house which had an old projector. On the screen came film clips of UFOs and, you guessed it, scenes from the alien autopsy. It was 16mm film and these films were not created by Disney or anyone else for that matter. They were the genuine article. Maloney claims to have seen other reels of film from the same batch rather than exactly the same scenes in the Santilli film. He has no doubt though that they are of the same thing. We asked him whether he felt the Santilli film was a fake. "I am convinced, Philip, it's not a fake. It am convinced it's not a hoax."
Perhaps one section that has been most vocally against the authenticity of the film has been Special Effects experts. Most, but not all, are convinced that we are dealing with rubber and latex and not flesh and blood. Again, our research has brought us into contact with many FX experts and their expert testimony cannot be ignored.
One recent such FX expert to comment on the film is Rob Townshend. Townshend has been working on the blockbuster movie 'Lord of the Rings' in New Zealand although he is from the UK. Having an interest in the UFO subject he happened across our book 'BEYOND ROSWELL' in New Zealand and he has had these comments to say regarding the 'Alien Autopsy' film. "As for the alien itself, this would be a huge undertaking for the special make-up effects crew. I have spent quite some time thinking over many ways that this could be created. Once the look of the creature had been established it is then a fairly standard procedure to build. From the completed moulds its outer skin and all other internal anatomy can be made. For most its outer skin and 'guts' gelatin could and would make a very realistic and organic appearance. It would also behave like flesh as it can be tinted to what ever colour is needed and has the translucent quality of real skin and flesh.
"There are many materials available to the effects artist. Gelatin and its formulas have been around and in use in the film industry for many years, also it would be one of the most cost effective options in terms of part of the materials budget. Having been asked over the years to supply horror and gore effects it is a point to note that the "real thing" on film and in life for that matter, looks like a badly made dummy. About 10 years ago I supplied the make-up effects for a film titled 'Seven Days under Mavis.' It told the true story of a macabre depiction of love in the autumn years. The bond between a married couple is tested in the extreme when Mavis collapses and dies on her husband pinning him to the floor for a week. I made all the prosthetic body bits to too real with the colour being matched and yet it looked fake. I had to redo the cosmetic look of the make-up so that it would 'read' better on film so it looked 'cool.' Here was decompositional make-up copied from life (or death for that matter) and yet it still looked fake. The point I'm making is that the Santilli creature could very well be real due to the fact that it does tend to behave as a real cadaver would."
Special effects experts like Mr. Townshend and others can only base their opinions on what they see on the film and no one can be sure which one of them is right and which one wrong. It the film is a hoax, then what did Stone and Maloney see and why has no one involved in its creation yet stepped forward?
Not knowing what our research would uncover has indeed dealt us a few surprises: a former US Army Sergeant who observed the film on a US military base in l969, the UK's highest award winning professional photographer who viewed other scenes from the film in the l970's in the USA, the film technician who confirmed it was on 16mm film before he transferred it on to video, and a UK special effects artist who disagreed with many of his colleagues and stated on the record for the first time that the creature could well be a real cadaver.
BACK WITH SANTILLI
But what of Ray Santilli? After all, he is the man who started all of this controversy in the first place. In August of 2001 I caught up with him and interviewed him on tape for the first time in many years. I asked Santilli if he stuck to his story of how he obtained the film. "Yes I do. Absolutely. There's no reason to change it because the story is the truth." Santilli went it to state yet again that he believes the cameraman's story and that he is hopeful that either the cameraman or members of his family will eventually go public. Until they do, Santilli will not reveal his identity. The film is housed in Europe and Santilli and his colleagues are not against releasing the remainder of the film to A TV company should they receive the right offer. Santilli did however impart some further information that he had not previously made public as far as I'm aware. I asked him if he had any other film that he had not shown or discussed with anyone. He told me, "Well, the only film that most people want to have access to, and I think it will probably have more interest to the UFO community, is obviously the footage from the debris site itself. There are many reels and pieces of film that haven't been examined yet even by us. You know that is something that can be commercialised at a later date. We've always made it clear that we have many reels of film and that some of it is relevant and some of it is not. Some of it has got material on the film that does not relate to the alien but helps to qualify the period of time and what the cameraman was doing during those few weeks." And what does Santilli himself believe the film depicts? "I think there are only 2 possibilities. One is that it is the real thing, that this creature is from a vehicle that comes from another world; and the other explanation is that it was an experiment that was being conducted by the Americans in that area after the war using German expertise and shows some kind of biological experiment and that the creature is a deformed or created creature for the purpose of testing secret weapons. In my opinion these are the only 2 possibilities."
While most UFO researchers and members of the public alike have assigned the 'Alien Autopsy' film to the hoax bin, this short article has shown that it is not as clear cut as some would have you believe. The comments from Salas, Maloney and Townshend are published here for the very first time and this article only represents the tip of the iceberg as far as on-going research into the film is concerned. My colleague Tim Matthews and I have compiled all of our research into one tome entitled 'Alien Autopsy Inquest' (contact from publishers welcomed) and our literary agent in the USA in busying himself as we speak in trying to find us the correct publisher. Until then, research into the film will continue.
If anyone has any information concerning Ray Santilli's controversial 'Alien Autopsy' film I would like to hear from them. You can contact me in confidence via: Philip Mantle, 1 Woodhall Drive, Batley, West Yorkshire, England, WF17 7SW. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author:
Philip Mantle is the former Director of Investigations for the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA) and MUFON Representative for England. An international lecturer and broadcaster he is the co-author of 'Without Consent' and 'Beyond Roswell.'
More information concerning the 'Alien Autopsy' film can be located on the Alien Autopsy Archive section of our web site at: wwww.beyondroswell.com