Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities: The Autopsy
October 28, 2022 12:11 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

In the anthology show's third episode, a forensic pathologist is called in to perform autopsies after a mysterious disaster in a coal mine.

This episode directed by David Prior (The Empty Man) from a short story by Michael Shea.
posted by whir (13 comments total)
I liked this one a lot! I don’t get scared by movies or TV anymore (not bragging, just desensitized from overexposure), but I can still feel gut-wrenchingly horrified, and this had me feeling that in spades. And F. Murray Abraham’s Dr. Winters is a horror protagonist for the ages, between his phlegmatic acceptance of his own mortality, his compassion for the decedents he dissects, and his determination to do the unthinkable to prevent the unthinkable. By far my favorite of the first four episodes.
posted by ejs at 2:17 PM on October 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

F. Murray Abraham was amazing that episode. By far the best of the first three.
posted by KaizenSoze at 5:08 PM on October 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

A couple of bits of direction really stood out for me. The opening shot of a "starry sky" that resolves to a rock face was nice. And filming the one character with his face inverted made him seem more alien. Simple tricks, but quite effective.

I had the good fortune to read Michael Shea's story back when it was originally published. When I started reading it, I had no idea what I was in for. And here, even though I knew where the story was going, I still enjoyed each reveal.
posted by SPrintF at 8:07 PM on October 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

Rare to see Carter as the president on the wall.

This felt like some old fashioned horror, not just the setting, but to have the (learned but practical) protagonist cross wits in an extended dialogue with the alien seems very 50s.

First half was a little confusing, felt more like fishing for vibes than telling a story.
posted by fleacircus at 5:33 PM on October 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

I've either read this before, or seen another adaptation. In either case, I thought that it was really well done. My favorite so far.
posted by Spike Glee at 6:36 AM on November 2, 2022

The first two read liked cliche children's ghost stories but this one was actually interesting and eery. Like the doc at the end realizing the path to a pyrrhic victory.
posted by GoblinHoney at 8:41 AM on November 2, 2022

Loved this! Like The Thing, but by Stephen King.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:19 AM on November 3, 2022

That treeline fade in! Just brilliant. This one really nails it.
posted by Catblack at 7:43 PM on November 3, 2022

I liked this. It did have a pulp "heroic scientist takes on sinister alien," but with a set of clever twists. The visuals and use of space were also good, and it really stuck the "presenting the place and time" thing. It is such a pity that Michael Shae died as young and wrote as slowly as he did; he was a singular talent with a lot of skill at presenting a particualr place and time, fantastic or not.

I do enjoy the quick little "del Toro introduces the story" segments; he come across as a little stiff but very charming and almost gleeful.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:04 PM on November 6, 2022

Well I enjoyed it. But between this one and the previous one, my squeamish husband is DONE. So I'll have to watch the rest of the series by myself.
posted by jenjenc at 7:18 PM on November 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this episode was also the catalyst for my partner to nope out of the series.
posted by whir at 9:14 AM on November 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

I know the name Michael Shea, but when I watched this my first thought was of the roleplaying game "Delta Green." It's a game of Lovercraftian horror where the players are all employees of the Federal government who investigate supernatural events. Think "X-Files meets Call of Cthulhu". Anyway, the introductory adventure "Puppet Shows and Shadow Plays" is centered around this exact creature and scenario. The Traveller, infesting people and making them do horrible things while they watch, etc. (It's clear this scenario is based on Shea's story but I don't find any attribution in my copy of the rulebook.)

Anyway, it was great fun to watch this episode and see basically a teleplay of a Delta Green adventure I've run several times.
posted by riotnrrd at 10:29 AM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

I know the name Michael Shea,

From what little I know of him, he sounds like he led an intriguing life. I know him mostly from his first book, A Quest for Simbilis, which was an authorized sequel to Jack Vance’s The Eyes of the Overworld. Oddly, less than a decade later, Vance published his own sequel (which picks up the narrative mere minutes after the earlier book ends, wiping away Shea’s book entirely). I would love to know more of what must have transpired between these two men.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:18 PM on July 11, 2023 [2 favorites]

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