Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Saturn 3 (Scream Factory Blu-ray) - The Keitel Voiceover and the Robot Monster

I’ve waited some years to see Saturn 3. In one of my first Fangoria retrospectives (Fango for Dummies) I talked about the featured movie Saturn 3 having never seen it or even heard of it prior to reading that particular issue of Fango. It was one of the earliest issues I had recapped, and the cover and stills were intriguing. That robot who I would later learn has a name, Hector, is terrifying even today. Even in light of The Terminator having come from the future to kill poor Johnny Connor or his mommy. Even though we’ve seen Hardware. There are terrifying robots and then there is the human-like creature set to takeover the mission on one of the moon’s of Saturn. This thing wants to hurt Kirk Douglas. This thing wants to hurt Farrah friggin’ Fawcett. You need to find out how it turns out. You need to understand why Harvey Keitel’s dialogue gets the ADR treatment. Scream Factory has given new life to this piece of Sci-Fi strange.

Synopsis from Scream Factory:

Adam (Kirk Douglas) and Alex (Farrah Fawcett) are two scientists stationed deep beneath the barren surface of Saturn's third moon, Titan. They live together in idyllic isolation in a space-age Eden, seeking new forms of food for an exhausted planet Earth. Their perfect world is interrupted when Benson (Harvey Keitel) arrives as Saturn goes into eclipse and cuts off communication with the rest of the solar system. Aided by his 'helper robot' Hector, James reduces life to one single purpose…survival. The robot becomes violently unmanageable. For Adam and Alex, their only hope is to flee, but the homicidal robot stands in their way.

I’m not going to lie and tell you that I find Saturn 3 entirely terrifying… just the robot. There are long drawn out scenes of strange passion between Farrah Fawcett and Kirk Douglas. I assure you these are worth watching, but not entirely creep-out material. Hector, the robot, is beyond scary. I can’t believe that something made in 1980 should have an all-out assault on my eyes, but this beautiful, semi-cyborg is something to be scared of. From the metallic bone structure to the strange hoses that run the length of its body, Hector is all robot menace made ready for the coming decade. Now the movie is slow. It takes its pretty time before building a bit of suspense. The third act is a fright show filled with surprises, but it will take time to get there.

The transfer is stunning but you expected me to say that. Well, this one in particular, this space adventure that may seem somewhat eclipsed by works before and after looks futuristically good. Where some of the space ship modeling may not live up to Star Wars, the robot gives a big “fuck you” to C3PO, especially when it looks this clear. The disc includes a commentary track from film critic David Bradley and Greg Moss who runs the Saturn 3 fan page. The best of the features are the interviews with screenwriter/special effects artist, Collin Chilvers who is the reason I love the look of this movie so. He’s the reason that Saturn 3 gets under my skin at all. The interview with Roy Dotrice is short but solid and explains some of the aforementioned ADR hijinx.  The deleted scenes are entertaining though not vital.

Note: 1080p Hi-Def Widescreen 1:85:1. DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo, 5.1. Comes in a combo pack with DVD and Blu-ray though my review specifically is of the Blu-ray.

For Sci-Fi fans, this is a must buy though it might not be a revelation, and it may feel a bit dated today. It has a unique look and cast that demand an audience. Even if you don’t find the movie outright creepy or even a modicum scary, you may enjoy a certain camp appeal.

-Doc Terror

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