Bob Shell: The’Alien Autopsy’ Film

surgical tools on table in human anatomy lab
Autopsy Tools. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2022

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2022


The’Alien Autopsy’ Film


In 1994 I was publishing a photography magazine called PIC (People In Camera) from an office near the Kings Cross station in London. I’d bought the magazine from the estate of my friend Captain Christopher Knight, the wealthy eccentric who’d founded it sixteen years before. When Chris died from a heart attack I was surprised to learn that he’d left the magazine to me in his will for a purely nominal price. That’s a story for another time.
While in London I heard rumors of a strange film from 1947 that had surfaced, supposedly showing the autopsy of a dead alien from the Roswell crash.

I know I had to have heard the first rumors of this film in 1994, but my friend and fellow researcher Philip Mantle insists it must have been in 1995. I don’t believe I was in London in 1995, since I shut down PIC at the end of 1994 because advertisers wouldn’t pay their bills and I’d been keeping the magazine afloat with personal funds. Chris was rich, so he could afford to keep the magazine afloat with ‘pocket money,’ as he called it. I couldn’t. So, even though it hurt to give up, I shut PIC down.

At any rate, I heard of this strange film, and contacted Ray Santilli, the man who had it, to offer my expertise in determining if it really dated from 1947. Ray’s story was that he’d bought the film from the former military cameraman who’d shot the film in 1947. The cameraman, ‘Jack,’ had shown him part of the film in Florida several years before when Ray was in the USA looking for vintage films of Elvis and other early rockers. He didn’t have the money to buy the film then, but had raised it and bought the film later. He said the film was badly deteriorated by that time from storage in a damp basement. Ray didn’t know that basements are unheard of in Florida due to the high water table. That cast some doubt on his story.

According to him, the film was all stuck together and had to be ‘restored’ and transferred to video one film frame at a time. Study of the high resolution Betacam video substantiates this, allowing frame by frame analysis.

There were two separate films, showing dissection of two different ‘aliens,’ one of which has never been released, but was shown to some UFO investigators in England. I was sent some very poor quality screen captures of parts of this other film.

The ‘aliens’ in these films are humanoid, but have six fingers and toes, and an internal structure that is definitely not human. The majority of pathologists shown the film think it shows a real dissection of a body, a body not quite human.

In the USA a TV program about the film was aired on the FOX network, narrated by Jonathan Frakes, Star Trek actor. I was flown to Paris to appear in a two hour Jacques Pradel special about the film on the French TF-1 network.

I had researched the film by then, but refused to say it was 100% real. There were many unanswered questions, and Ray was evasive in his answers. Kodak offered to authenticate the film if loaned a three foot section, but Ray refused their offer. The film stock was Kodak Super XX, a very ‘fast’ film for its time that could be used in relatively dim light. It was a black and white film that could be developed as a negative or a positive.

Kodak puts a code on the edge of their films during manufacture to indicate the year in which the film was made. They used to repeat these codes every twenty years. The edge code on the film, which I’ll call the ‘AA’ film for convenience, indicates it was made in 1927, 1947, or 1967. The film is the wrong kind of acetate for 1927, but that type of film was not made in 1967, so we’re left with the conclusion that it was made in 1947. Or so it seems on first inspection. The pitch of the edge perforations changed over the years, and this is what Kodak offered to measure.

I’m not going to go into all the details here, because anyone can read the whole story in ‘Beyond Roswell,’ the 1996 book I helped to write with my friends Michael Hesemann and Philip Mantle. Although out of print, used copies are readily available from Amazon. I hope someday to write an updated edition.

I was interviewed about the film on Coast to Coast by the late Art Bell. You can listen to that interview at:

Today, the AA film is still an open question to me. Is it real? I simply don’t know. Philip Mantle has concluded that it is an elaborate fake, as explained in his book ‘Roswell Alien Autopsy.’ Many of us in the UFO research community, along with me, feel that its reality is still an open question. Decide for yourself.


About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 13th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell, click here:

Editor’s Note: If you like Bob Shell’s blog posts, you’re sure to like his new book, COSMIC DANCE by Bob Shell (ISBN: 9781799224747, $ 12.95 book, $ 5.99 eBook) available now on . The book, his 26th, is a collection of essays written over the last twelve years in prison, none published anywhere before. It is subtitled, “A biologist’s reflections on space, time, reality, evolution, and the nature of consciousness,” which describes it pretty well. You can read a sample section and reviews on Here’s the link:

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