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Latest Member: Brianlep Forum  |  Movies  |  Good Movies  |  Saturn 3 (1980) « previous next »
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Author Topic: Saturn 3 (1980)  (Read 2970 times)
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« on: April 28, 2012, 01:08:36 AM »

In the future, Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett live and work in the Saturn 3 agricultural facility, situated on one of Saturn's moons.  A scientist named James shows up with a prototype robot called Hector, stating that Hector is to replace Kirk Douglas as commander of the station.  (Kirk Douglas is almost old enough to be euthanized according to the law of the apparently harsh future.)  Hector differs from previous types of robots by having a humanoid body and a living brain made of actual human brain tissue (which was either culture grown or harvested from fetuses, the movie can't seem to make up its mind).  The brain is completely blank at first but will be "programmed" by direct link with James's brain, courtesy of a coaxial plug in his spinal cord.  This is bad.  Why?  Because James is actually Benson, a man deemed psychologically unfit for duty even by the standards of the extraordinarily inhumane government he works for!  Benson murdered James and assumed his identity in order to get the apparently plumb job of programming Hector.  Now, what do you think will happen when an 8-foot, monstrously strong, nigh-indestructible robot absorbs through osmosis the thought patterns of a cold-blooded murderer?

Saturn 3 was obviously made as an alien cash-in.  For what it's worth, it's actually one of the best, first-generation Alien ripoffs.  It has dark corridors full of twists, turns, nooks, and crannies where something could jump out at you.  It has a cast of characters who honestly aren't up the task of fending off a hulking, unstoppable monster.  And that hulking, unstoppable monster is one of the best of its kind.  Unlike pretty much every other homicidal robot I can think of, Hector has a damned logical reason for going insane the way he does: he's got a human brain.  Not only that, he's got a very young human brain that finds itself flooded with the thoughts of an unrepentant murderer.  Hector is, basically, a toddler with superhuman strength he has no clue how to manage struggling with black, evil thoughts he can't process.  The design for Hector's body is also completely unique and even logical, given what he's supposed to be.  Hector's body is basically humanoid, which makes sense considering that he's supposed to more or less function as a human, only stronger, more durable, and more efficient.  Where he differs from a human is in the design of his arms, which resemble the boom of an excavator more than a human arm, and in the design of his head, which is merely a binocular camera on a stalk.  Since Hector's tasks will require great strength more than fine motor skills, it's perfectly sensible to give him arms constructed that way, and the camera on a stalk would allow him to survey his surroundings without having to move his body (and thus waste energy) at all.  However, I really can't imagine why anyone would give his thumbs and forefingers razor-sharp edges.

Unfortunately, the movie fails pretty much everywhere but the production design.  Harvey Keitel was just wrong for the part of Benson, and the people who made the movie seem to have thought so, too.  Keitel's voice is dubbed over by Roy Dotrice.  This was a wise decision, as Benson's dialogue just wouldn't work being spoken in Keitel's voice.  (Why they didn't just cast Dotrice in the first place is another matter.)  Kirk Douglas is all right but he's really just coasting along, putting forth exactly as much effort as he thought his paycheck was worth.  Farrah Fawcett does the best she can with an underwritten role.  She's just good enough to make you wish her character had been given more to do.  This is a movie where the cast is out-acted by a robot that is incapable of any expression whatsoever.

The direction is also limp, as if the director were uninterested in the movie and just wanted to get something in the can.  Apparently, this is actually true.  The movie began filming with a novice director who was in over his head.  He was replaced after a couple of weeks by a director better-known for his work in musicals.  Reportedly, the new director considered the material beneath him and focused mainly upon getting done and moving on.  I'd love to know which scenes were directed by whom, because for a few, glorious minutes, Saturn 3 really is awesome!  When Hector finally goes on the offensive for real, it's like you're watching a different movie.  The look of the movie changes, the camera angles are more inventive, the pace picks way the hell up, even the performances of the actors are more energetic.  There's even a bit that obviously inspired part of the climax of Aliens (you'll see what I mean if you watch Saturn 3) and is nearly as good.  Only a few minutes of the movie have this magical quality but, while it lasts, Saturn 3 is damned good.

Unfortunately, the rest of the movie is ... kinda crappy.  High production values but no real energy.  At least it never gets boring.

Saturn 3 is definitely worth a watch just for the Hector robot, and for those few minutes that are every bit as good as anything to be found in Alien.

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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2012, 06:38:17 AM »

I enjoyed that movie.  It's kind of a minor cheese classic.  I guess I couldn't take Farrah seriously, she's just too sex-kittenish.  Kudos to Mr. Douglas, he's got a nice life up on Saturn 3   Cheers  The fact that the robot was all chrome plated kind of made him look silly to me.  Some typical industrial paint job would have made him tremendously more menacing IMO.  But overall it was a fun time.  I especially liked the stuff on the space station at the beginning, with people walking on the floor as well as the ceiling.  That was really creative.

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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2012, 06:47:14 PM »

I haven't seen this flick in years, but I remember diggin' it as a teen. Farrah was at the peak of her eye-candy period at the time, and hey, anything with a gigantic killer robot in it, I'm there. :D

Last I checked, this flick wasn't available on DVD in the US -- i had sort of figured that once Farrah passed away it would turn back up again but so far that hasnt' been the case. Bummer. I'd like to see it again.

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« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2012, 03:56:24 PM »

Last I checked, this flick wasn't available on DVD in the US -- i had sort of figured that once Farrah passed away it would turn back up again but so far that hasnt' been the case. Bummer. I'd like to see it again.

I hope they release SATURN 3 in a Kirk Douglas combo pack with SPARTACUS and SEVEN DAYS IN MAY.


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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2012, 04:17:19 AM »

Kirk Douglas had a short period there when he did some Horror/sci fi stuff like HOLOCAUST 2000 (1977),the FURY (1978),the FINAL COUNTDOWN (1980)-and SATURN 3 (1980).
HOLOCAUST 2000 was fun-kind of a cheezy Itailian the OMEN with Kirk's son being the Anti-Christ.

Love this scene-

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« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2012, 01:00:41 PM »

I just  own it, like most  guys  do, cause of  Farrah.  R.I.P. Farrah. Bluesad

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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2012, 12:10:12 AM »

I just watched "Saturn 3" in its entirety on YouTube. Hadn't seen it since it first made the cable-TV rounds in the early '80s.

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I was entertained, even if it was for all the wrong reasons, if you know what I mean.  TeddyR

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