Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scream Factorized: SATURN 3 on Blu-ray ""

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Scream Factorized: SATURN 3 on Blu-ray

After a recent revival screening of WESTWORLD, I found myself lamenting the lack of 'killer robot' cinema nowadays. It seems like a perfectly good time for it. Computers continue to become more and more obligatory in our daily life(and functioning every day) that it seems a natural progression that we'll soon rely on robots more as a well. Robots were kind of a craze pop culturally in the 1980s, but they've never gone away and have become quite obligatory if not as much as phones, computers and tablets have. Anyway, now is a good time for folks to revisit SATURN 3 as it is a fun killer robot film from 1980, before the robot craze took hold. 
SATURN 3 was clearly made in the wake of the science fiction movie boom of the late 70s and seems to owe a decent debt to Ridley Scott's ALIEN. Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett play scientist food-developers working at an experimental research station on Saturn's 3rd moon. They have a rather ideal, serene setup of doing their scientific work and being lovers in the blissful isolation of deep space. Coitus interruptus happens when when Harvey Keitel arrives with his droid intent on replacing one of the two scientists and making the workflow more efficient. Keitel has programmed the robot with a direct link to his brain. Keitel also turns out to be a bit evil and hot for Farrah so as a result, the robot takes on those characteristics. 
SATURN 3 was apparently a troubled production in which the original director (John Barry) had conceived of a more violent, sexy exploitation space film. After Barry was fired early on, Stanley Donen (who was a producer on the movie) took over the directing reigns. He toned down some of the exploitation elements, which I think hurt the film overall. It would seem that this conflict of vision makes for a movie that could have gone a little farther as far as the violence and scariness it contains. What remains is enjoyable enough for my money and this due in large part to the cast, the science fiction setting and the fact that it has a killer robot in it. I think of it as something along the lines of SILENT RUNNING gone horribly awry. Donen supposedly called SATURN 3 a 'Frankenstein Story in Space'. The film is a bit of anomaly in Donen's career as he is of course most widely remembered for his movies SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, CHARADE, TWO FOR THE ROAD, BEDAZZLED and SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS among others. Very much a "one of these hings is not like the other" kind of situation.

Scream Factory has put together a nice group of supplements to include with this Blu-ray/DVD Combo set. First off it has an audio commentary track with Greg Moss(who runs the SATURN 3 fan page) with Film Critic David Bradley moderating. Greg Moss discusses why he became obsessed with SATURN 3 and how his website (called Something Is Wrong On Saturn 3). Moss has a very vast and intricate knowledge of the background story behind the making of SATURN 3. He talks about the history of John Barry (the aforementioned original director of the film) and his rather tragic story. Moss goes through the beginnings of Barry's involvement in developing the script through his few weeks actually directing the movie until he decided to leave the production. Though some have said Barry left due to Kirk Douglas, this is only partially true. Barry was also dealing with a Bruce/JAWS type situation with getting the robot to work properly which was compounded by aggravation from Kirk Douglas that pushed Stanley Donen to step in and watch over things. Barry apparently didn't care for having someone overseeing his directing duties so he decided to leave the movie. The commentary delves into alternate proposed casting choices, and the other various difficulties of the production. As I am rather fascinated by stories of films getting made and the the troubles that need to be overcome in order to even get a film any finished, this commentary was a solid, informative listen which gave me a new perspective on the movie.
The other special features on the disc include interviews with Special Effects Director Colin Chilvers(15 mins) and Voice Artist Roy Dotrice(who dubbed Harvey Keitel's character in the film)(7 mins).
The disc also has 10 mins of additional scenes that were added to the movie when it was first broadcast on Television as well as another short deleted "Ecstacy Scene"(where Douglas and Fawcett's characters take a little drug trip).

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