Blu-ray Review: Saturn 3

Ever remember a movie on a freebie? That’s the way it was for Saturn 3. A buddy at my junior high had scored promotional cloth stickers that had the film’s logo. None of us got to see the film in the theater since it was R-rated and our parents weren’t that cool in 1980. They didn’t even want to pay for HBO or Showtime. In the pre-home video era, we had to wait for the butchered version to finally come on broadcast TV. We were disappointed at not being able to see Farrah Fawcett in an R-rated film. Although it turned out that the rating was for violence and not a teasing scene cut from film. Now the film with the missing moment is part of Saturn 3 on Blu-ray.

The movie isn’t the usual Star Wars science fiction that was dominating the cinemas. This wasn’t about a galaxy far far away. This film merely transported the viewers to a lab on Titan, Saturn’s third moon. Deep in this remote location lives Kirk Douglas (Spartacus) and Farrah Fawcett (Charlie’s Angels). The couple are doing research in hydroponics. Harvey Keitel (Pulp Fiction) arrives to shake up their little life. The point of his mission is to install a robot that will replace scientists in the near future. Turns out Harvey isn’t quite who he says he is. He doesn’t merely want to replace a scientist, he wants to be Farrah’s new man. An eclipse that cuts the lab off from communicating adds to the remote nature of the lab. When both the robot and Harvey go nuts, there seems to be little chance for Kirk and Farrah to survive.

What’s really weird about the film is that Harvey’s voice is dubbed. In space, nobody can speak with a Brooklyn accent. Instead he sounds English. Sadly there is no bonus feature to let you hear his real voice in the role. Saturn 3 has an amazing collaboration of talents. Along with Farrah, Kirk and Harvey, the talent behind the camera is excellent. John Barry came up with the story idea. He’s the production designer behind A Clockwork Orange, Star Wars (Oscar winner) and Superman. His work was given a script rewrite by Martin Amis (author of London Fields). Barry was supposed to direct, but ended up getting replaced by Stanley Donen (Singin’ In the Rain). Rumor has it that John and Kirk didn’t get along so he was dismissed. Barry ended up dying of meningitis while directing second unit on Empire Strikes Back.

Saturn 3 maintains its claustrophobic charm. Farrah Fawcett comes off as the kind of woman you’d want to be with on a desert island. Although in this case, she’s the only woman on an unforgiving moon. The unusual design of Hector the robot makes him more menacing when he flips out on his human controllers. The trio and their robotic co-star pump up the suspense. There’s still a few great scares on Saturn 3.

The video is 1.78:1. The 1080p transfer brings out the icy beauty of the futuristic sets. Hector dazzles almost as much as Farrah. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo. All the sci-fi noises come through clearly. Although you’ll notice Harvey’s dub voice instantly. The movie is subtitled.

DVD with all the features found on the Blu-ray.

Audio Commentary
from Greg Moss, an expert on the film. He created a website dedicated to the film. He’s knows way too much about the movie. Finally that knowledge pays off. He points out that John Barry came up with the idea while working as production designer of Stanley Donen’s Lucky Lady.

Interview with Voice Artist Roy Dotrice (6:29) chats with the man who vocally replaced Harvey. He’s kind of confused why he was brought in, but it was a few hours of work. He does mention that he also did new lines as part of the ADR session.

Interview with Special Effects Director Colin Chilvers (15:54) lets him give a bit of background info on the film. He had just won the Oscar for Superman. He breaks down how he made the physical effects on a shrinking budget.

Additional Scenes from the Network TV Version
(9:54) are saved snippets to beef up the running time. The extra moments are in standard video.

Deleted Ecstasy Scene (3:32) should have been in the film. Kirk and Farrah share a pill and get a bit frisky. Farrah wears her sexy spacesuit that was teased in the trailer, but cut from the movie. Shame they couldn’t slide this into the video as a Director’s Cut. This is the reason to upgrade.

Trailer (2:55) promises us massive space tale with Kirk, Farrah, Harvey and that robot.

TV Spots
(0:52) promises us that the impossible is unthinkable. “Something is wrong on Saturn Three” is the tagline.

Photo Gallery (3:13) has plenty of pics from the production and promotional items.

Saturn 3 brings the closed creepy nature of Alien to a chamber drama on a distant moon. The inclusion of the “Ecstasy Scene” as a bonus feature is a major upgrade. The only thing it is missing is a cloth patch.

Scream Factory presents Saturn 3. Directed by: Stanley Donen. Screenplay by: Martin Amis. Starring: Kirk Douglas, Farrah Fawcett and Harvey Keitel. Running Time: 88 minutes. Rating: R. Released: December 3, 2013.

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