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SATURN 3 - 2 Slimes
Rated R
Copyright 1980 ITC and Transcontinental Films
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 3 February 2007

The Characters:  

  • Adam - Kirk Douglas! You do not want this guy naked and on top of you (yes, I will explain). Blown to pieces.
  • Alex - Farrah Fawcett! She is on my short list of "women to take along to a remote asteroid," too.
  • Capt James - He might only appear for two minutes before dying, but I am scrounging for cast members.
  • Capt Benson - Harvey Keitel! Mentally unstable fellow who errs by programming a robot with his own, dangerous brain patterns.
  • Sally - The dog (again, small cast) who is disassembled by Hector.
  • Hector - Being denied his desire for Alex causes this machine to become a robot on a rampage. Eventually destroyed.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

One thing that has always confused me about this movie is whether the title is intended to identify Lapetus or merely a designation for the research station. It would appear that the outpost is located on an asteroid. However, some shots seem to suggest it being on a moon. In any case, my confusion is pointless and stupid when the movie is taken as a whole.

To begin the story, an army of black-clad technicians march out and commence to prepare a small spaceship for immediate launch. Everything about the impending mission seems hasty, from the workers clumsily loading containers into the cockpit, to the pilot running along a corridor to grab his gear. If you take into account how important the mission is (though we only learn this later), you begin to wonder why everything is so last minute. While you are thinking that over, ask yourself what moron designed the cargo system for the ship.

Captain James, who is our tardy pilot, reaches the futuristic locker room (the lockers look more like stainless steel refrigerators) and punches in the code for his storage unit. While putting on his gear, another figure in a flightsuit wanders past. James correctly guesses that the morose figure is Captain Benson, who was scrubbed from the mission for failing the psychiatric evaluation. The chipper pilot commiserates with his grounded buddy, until he notices that Benson has strapped himself down and is about to open the airlock. The hatch opens and, with a scream, Captain James is whisked out into space in pieces. Benson closes the airlock, retrieves some of the recently departed's belongings, and hurries to the flight deck.

Why in the world is there a huge airlock in the roof of the locker room? Is it the Commanding Officer's final solution when his pilots fail to keep the area in a high state of police? "I have told all of you enough times that I do not want dirty socks left on the bench! You can buy new socks!" Following that, he operates the airlock and the offending items are sucked outside, creating a unique navigational hazard for other spacecraft. How would you like to hit a frozen sock or washcloth while traveling at 200,000 mph?

The ship's destination is Saturn 3, a research station maintained by Adam, an aging major, and his girl toy. From what I can tell, the pair are attempting to perfect hydroponics so that extraterrestrial habitats can provide food for the starving masses of Earth. Why they would be based near Saturn, vice the moon or even Mars, is a mystery. Is it really feasible to transport a cabbage nearly one billion miles? The scope of the facility is also a conundrum, because it is characterized by wide corridors. In fact, most of the research station consists of huge passageways that must have been excavated from the rock. Later, these are crucial for the plot, allowing lots of running around as Hector chases the humans, but my common sense gland made a sick squishing sound as it tried to digest why they would have been made in the first place. Do not get me started on the large crawlspaces that are beneath the floor grates. At a glance, electrical, data, climate control, and water appear to be carried by conduit and pipes attached to the corridor walls. There would be no need for a mechanical space below the floor. Again, the script needs them for a few scenes with Adam and Alex scurrying around as Hector stomps above. Did the engineers who designed the facility realize that, one day, the personnel would need to flee from a killer robot?

(Sorry, got myself going.)

Benson's arrival (he does masquerade as Captain James, but I will refer to him by his real name) and abrupt manner cause discordance in the secluded little paradise. Not the least of which is Adam reminding Alex that she cannot wander through the corridors naked. Benson is something unknown to the girl, who enjoys a blissful ignorance due to being assigned to Saturn 3 at a young age. Adam saw to it that his younger partner led a protected life (no Internet for you, young missy). She is intrigued by some of Benson's traits and repelled by others. The visiting pilot brings the taint of Earth and all of its associate evils, be they drugs or draconian social practices. Adam hates the other officer immediately. He is even less amused when he learns that Benson will be staying for a while, including the period when the habitat is out of communications range of the base station.

I am not going to delve into the whole sub-plot of Adam and Alex's relationship. It is amusing that the viewer can be certain he also taught her fashion. The woman wears clothing straight out of a number of male fantasies, such as the pirate-inspired outfit that comes complete with black boots and tan pants.

No orders were sent to inform Adam of this beforehand, but the primary reason for the visit to Saturn 3 is to deliver Hector. All of the cylindrical containers we saw earlier are parts of the "demigod series" robot. The brain is a huge mass, filling the interior of a stainless steel container that must be three feet long and eight inches in diameter. Once the robot is assembled, it will take over management of the research facility. One of the staff, probably Adam, will be reassigned.

If you are mentally unstable and know it, then uploading your personality into a robot with powerful hydraulic extensions is pretty stupid. However, this is exactly what Captain Benson proceeds to do. To accelerate the synthetic brain's knowledge acquisition process, it can eavesdrop on a person's thoughts when a transmitter is inserted into a special jack on the back of their neck. The deranged murderer has such an interface, which he uses to provide Hector with direct input. It works, though the artificial intelligence knows that parts of its personality are copied from a madman. Attempting to delete the questionable instruction sets causes Benson no small amount of grief. Too bad that he was not a programmer, he would have known how to find and delete the $crazy_murderer array.

Repeatedly denied sexual contact by Alex, the intruding Captain becomes more demanding and agitated. As you might have guessed, these tendencies cascade into Hector. The robot finally snaps one night and disassembles Sally. Alex breaks down crying when she finds the mess, but does not immediately sound the alarm. Tell me what she could possibly have been thinking; it is not as if dogs just fall apart every so often. Distraught though she might be, she should have realized that Hector was dangerous. No matter, because she does find out when the robot grabs her and pulls her into the air by the wrists. The first male to arrive is Benson. He commands Hector to release Alex to no avail; it is only when she tearfully begs to be let go that the artificial intelligence complies.

Hector goes on a full rampage, forcing Adam to lock it inside of the hydroponics lab. I agree that the machine is a menace, with its lethal pincer hands, but it also has an obvious weakness. The robot is covered with external lines filled with fluid. Some are probably hydraulic, while others must carry nutrients and waste for the brain. The robot's maximum speed is a walk; Adam could grab a pole (something like a gaff would be best) and start breaking hydraulic lines. Instead, and I agree that his solution works, Adam overloads Hector when it attempts to recharge. Following a short tussle with the not-quite-dead robot, during which Adam puts it in a shoulder lock (guess those work on ball joints too), the angry major tells Benson to disassemble the metal maniac.

The problem with robots is that they are not organic. If you tear off a human's arms and legs, then the amount of further trouble they are likely to cause you is seriously limited. Should you turn a robot into a pile of parts, but forget to render its wireless card inoperative, you had better hope that it cannot use other machines in the area to put itself back together. This is exactly what happens and Benson learns of the robot's return to service the hard way. An extended game of cat and mouse, with several hundred pounds of murderous robot playing the feline part, begins as Adam and Alex attempt to escape Saturn 3.

A number of the robot movement scenes are impressive considering when the movie was made, though it is obvious quite a few were filmed in reverse. Some people say that the movie would have been better with a larger cast, thus providing more organic fodder for Hector. I think that the cast is the right size for the story, but the execution and some basic components of the plot are flawed. Hector's understanding that it is the mirror of a madman was well-placed; they should have explored that angle more. What I could have done with less of was naked, slightly drooping, Kirk Douglas butt. There is a scene where Adam, who is naked, tackles Benson. Real horror show stuff, that scene. Two hundred pounds of naked old man jumping on me, while Farrah Fawcett watches, is likely to crop up in a future nightmare.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • In the future, there will be a need for building-sized inkjet printers.
  • Exposure to vacuum instantly turns a person into a brittle, frozen chunk of meat.
  • Sometimes, believe it or not, it is impossible to concentrate on hydroponics.
  • The best sleeping pills are blue in color.
  • Pickup lines need to avoid the imperative tense.
  • Globes can also be used as beach balls.
  • Robots should only use GFCI protected outlets to recharge.
  • A perm is highly recommended for any woman in zero gravity.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 10 mins - Should steam be coming out of your suit?
  • 11 mins - Neither of them is freaking out or reaching for the duct tape. I guess that is normal.
  • 18 mins - RANDOM GRATUITOUS BREAST SHOT!
  • 20 mins - I see that Vietnamese cuisine caught on.
  • 23 mins - The SL-3 should have been completed before launch. What if a single 1/4" bolt was missing and Saturn 3 was all metric?
  • 53 mins - Oh no, it is Bluetooth enabled.
  • 69 mins - What in the world? Was it smelt spawning season in the hydroponics vat?
  • 76 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A MIRROR!

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note saturniii1.wav Benson: "Earth is hungry."
Adam: "That's why we're here."
Benson: "Your research is behind schedule."
Adam: "We're doing all we can."
Benson: "Not enough; you need help."
Green Music Note saturniii2.wav Alex asks Adam about Blue Dreamers.
Green Music Note saturniii3.wav Benson: "You have a great body. May I use it?"
Alex: "I'm with the Major."
Benson: "For his personal consumption only?"
Alex: "Yes."
Green Music Note saturniii4.wav Kirk: "How would you like to make a small wager, Hector?"
Alex: (Laughs.)
Benson: "He doesn't like to be laughed at."
Alex: "Can't you program him to have a sense of humor?"
Benson: "That's not an early priority."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipsaturniii1.mpg - 2.5m
Alex attempted to lure Hector into walking over a section of floor that had the underlying grating removed. The robot was too smart to fall for the ruse, but Adam uses a piece of equipment to knock the mechanical menace into the hydroponics vat anyway. Look at Hector bob!

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Comments:Write CommentPages: [1] 2 3
Re: Saturn 3
Reply #1. Posted on February 03, 2007, 10:33:31 PM by daeron
I remember seeing this movie on tv when I was very young - and being pretty scared by the robot. I *was* old enough to see the the appeal of living with some hot blonde chick in a remote research lab, doing pills and each other.

Also, the most recent memory of FF I have is her participation in the shatner roast... women dont age well indeed.
Re: Saturn 3
Reply #2. Posted on February 04, 2007, 08:38:46 AM by Yaddo 42
My aunt used to recommend this one to me all the time when I was little. By the time I saw it ten years later, I decided not take recommendations from her for movie.

I love the visual look and design of the film, it clicks with what the idea of "scifi" was to me at one time, however impractical.

At least we know where son Michael gets the cheek to bare his aged backside in[ i]Basic Instinct[/i] from (yes I deserve to be reprimanded for that pun). Daddy Kirk letting his weathered freak flags flap as it were.

Ah Farrah, you were the ideal at one time, now you are a sad footnote from David Letterman's show and lots of Baby Boomer memories of posters and onanism. Oh yeah and that whole Burning Bed thing from the 80s when you briefly convinced people you could act.
Re: Saturn 3
Reply #3. Posted on February 05, 2007, 11:45:24 AM by Gerry
Nice review, Andrew.  This one is just plain awful, especially for the Kirk butt moments.  If I recall correctly, Harvey Keitel was mysteriously dubbed in this one for some reason.  At least there were no Keitel dangly bits.  He's known for showing them off shamelessly.
Re: Saturn 3
Reply #4. Posted on February 05, 2007, 11:04:09 PM by Torgo
At least there were no Keitel dangly bits.  He's known for showing them off shamelessly.

Like in Bad Lieutenant or The Piano?    Lookingup
Re: Saturn 3
Reply #5. Posted on February 08, 2007, 01:25:41 PM by BoyScoutKevin
Darn! There is just something wrong with a film, where Kirk gets naked and Farrah doesn't.
Re: Saturn 3
Reply #6. Posted on February 08, 2007, 03:44:23 PM by raj
I rented this a few years ago -- not horrible, more ohf a meh.  Biggest thing wrong with it is that Farrah's fun bags were shown far to briefly.
Re: Saturn 3
Reply #7. Posted on February 20, 2007, 12:05:05 AM by soylentgreen
Quote
I think that the cast is the right size for the story, but the execution and some basic components of the plot are flawed. Hector's understanding that it is the mirror of a madman was well-placed; they should have explored that angle more.
Spot on.  Great review, Andrew.

Every time I watch this I have the same asinine conversation with myself....Stanley Donen? Stanley Donen! Stanley Donen? Stanley Donen!

And has there ever been any conclusive reason found for dubbing Roy Dotrice's voice for Keitels?  I'm assuming it was the same issue as having a "Judas" from Brighton Beach.
Re: Saturn 3
Reply #8. Posted on March 14, 2007, 03:37:00 PM by amabush
You may have noticed that the novelist Martin Amis was involved in this project. You will find a pastiche of the movie and its principals in his excellent novel 'Money'
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