“Saturn 3” (1980)

Saturn 3 - The Fedora ChroniclesAt the end of my review of "Frankenstein," I mentioned a short list of movies or books that are essentially nothing more then recycling of Mary Shelly's original work. "Jurassic Park," "Blade Runner," the recently re-imaged "Battlestar Galactica" (humans created the first Cylons), Edward Scissorhands, Fritz Lang's "Metropolis," Frank Herbert's "DUNE," and even the now obscure "Saturn 3" starting Kurt Douglas, Farah Fawcett and Harvey Keitel. Are all, in retrospect, variations on the same theme if not out-right remakes.

Saturn 3 PosterJust after I submitted the finished Frankenstein review to our editors to check-over, I thought to myself if there's any way that I could find to watch the aforementioned again via Video On Demand, I should review this film.. And there it was on both services. While I waited for someone to approve the article I just finished, why don't I start a new one... click play and kill about an hour and forty minutes.

Also, I've been meaning to mention this flick since Aaron Gantt from "The Indy Experience" and I were visiting some fellow vintage aficionados in the Finger Lakes region and "Saturn3" just came up in conversation. I've been meaning to write something about now obscure movies with unique props that we just couldn't forget. I guess this was the time.

"Saturn3" it's something fun to watch once when you have nothing better to do because of it's elaborate props and set designs. The story might be forgettable and the acting somewhat wanting. Oh, and it features every adolescent Science Fiction fan's fantasy come true. Farah Fawcett is nude in at least two scenes in a (then) high tech location/scenery in a movie about a killer robot. To them, (and the immature fan-boy in all of us) this might be the best movie ever made so long as you don't dwell on it's weaknesses. And there's a lot of them.

That's it... I could end this "Flick To Hold You Over" now and do something else for the website. The End. That's all you need to know. All I would write is that a famous woman from the 1970's and 1980's in her prime is naked while staring in a futuristic movie about a robot that becomes a killer and people would flock to see it! Good night folks! Log in tomorrow!

I don't care what the script writers and playwrites tell you; when they're telling a story about a crazy, obsessed man making a creature or a machine that eventually wants a mate of it's own or wants to be more like us then could kill to get what it wants - they're remaking "Frankenstein." If they change any of the plot points, such as the movie Short Circuit about a robot designed for the military to kill and gets hit with a lightning bolt ("It's Alive! IT'S ALIVE!!!") to become self-aware, they're making another remake of Frankenstein. "Saturn 3" is exactly like every other "Frankenstein" remake; by trying too hard not to be one, it's more of a remake then others. Harvey Keitel plays "Captain Benson" who brings the parts necessary to put together a new robot to help "Adam" and "Alex" (played by Kirk Douglas and Farah Fawcett) who are all alone on one of the moons of Saturn to develop new ways to feed the now over-populated Earth using hydroponics. I looked it up to see if "hydroponics" is a real word...

hy-dro-pon-ics: [hahy-druh-pon-iks]

–noun (used with a singular verb)
the cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil; soilless growth of plants.

Stop what you're doing, stop reading this rant about this movie and watch it because Farah Fawcett is NAKED! The rest of the movie is pretty awful (besides the sets and the killer robot) but Farah Fawcett (for less then a second) is really NAKED!

These pieces to build the robot or cyborg include a large, cylindrical tube that contains a synthetic brain, grown from a few fetus cells. There's a lot of focus through dialog on the fact that this robot is essentially a child because of this fresh, clean and virtually empty organic brain being taught by the homicidal Captain Benson. There's also Benson's talk about how this is the first of the "demi-god" series, the robot is "perfection." And there's also a lot of emphasis on Benson's insanity, obsessed with his own sense of perfection, about being "tomorrow" and how Alex's lover, Adam is "yesterday." There's no doubt that the producers were trying to remind us all that Benson is "Dr. Frankenstein," and the robot is "The Creature."

OK, we get that... it's pounded into our heads with about as much subtlety as a sledge hammer.

While the robot "Hector" is being taught via a direct link into Benson's brain, the robot (or technically a "cyborg") picks up Benson's neurosis and desires. Hector begins to want Alex, he wants her for his own mate. And like every other story that rips off Mary Shelly's work - the robot starts to go crazy. And killing. For the rest of the movie, Kirk Douglas (KIRK DOUGLAS?!?) and Farah Fawcett run around this lavish set while trying not to get killed.

In The Empty Theater, Nobody Can Hear Your Scream...

"Saturn 3" is a lot of things. A "great" movie isn't one of them. But it's not a horrible one, either. It's an obvious attempt at trying to literally remake "Frankenstein" while trying to capitalize on the "Star Wars" hysteria that started in May 1977, and a blatant attempt to also cash-in on the success that was enjoyed by the horror/suspense movie "Alien." More succinctly, they spent all the money of the special effects, the sets, and on two big name actors (Harvey Keitel was pretty obscure back then...) and cobbled something together that doesn't make a whole lot of sense...

There's no explanation as to why a huge underground facility was created on one of Saturn's moons with only two people (who happen to be lovers) working there alone. Why aren't there more people working in this lab to solve the food crisis that's happening on Earth? Seems like a huge waste of resources.

There's no explanation of why "Captain Benson" does a lot of really bad things in the beginning of this movie (murdering the astronaut originally assigned to bring Hector to the moon of Saturn, masquerading as that man, stealing the ship...) How is Benson able to slip through the cracks and why did he want to complete the mission and bring Hector to the hydroponics lab? Why did he want to do that? What's his motivation for going through with all of that?

Also, what would an robot do with a woman once she falls in love with him or it?

This movie just takes for granted the audiences desire to just check-out while watching a movie, then relies too much on our imagination at the same time. We see these events that don't make sense unfold on the screen, so there must be some reasons for these things to happen but we're not told. We're asked to take too much on face value and that these things just 'happen'... and the story suffers.

"Saturn 3" is a good excuse to make bunch of lavish sets, terrific futuristic-looking costumes that aren't too dated while trying to tackle what was a huge issue back then: over-population and resource depletion. Movies about "The Future" are never about the future, they're about the current hopes, dreams and fears of the time it was produced, discussed in the context of the future. A lot of motion pictures made today discuss the horrors of terrorism and climate change/global warming... "Saturn 3" is a reflection of the times it was made. Just not done very well.

Not everything in this movie was wasted, I can almost guarantee that these sets showed up again in at least one other movie. Just don't ask me to remember which one.  

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