Saturn 3 (1980)

saturn 3 poster 1980 movie hector robot
3.5 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 7/10

Hector is kind of creepy

Characters make illogical choices, meandering story

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Saturn 3

Studio:   ITC Entertainment

Genre(s):   Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s):   February 15, 1980

MPAA Rating:   R

saturn 3 hector robot harvey keitel

Just a man and his robot

The moon known as Saturn 3 has a new visitor.  Benson (Harvey Keitel) has secretly replaced the scientist meant for the moon and broken protocol that he’s too mentally unstable for the job.  The moon’s scientists Adam (Kirk Douglas) and Alex (Farrah Fawcett) are unaware that there is any wrong with Benson or the advanced robot named Hector that he brought to the space station.  Benson thinks Adam is wrong for Alex…and he’s willing to kill to get her.

Directed by Stanley Donen, Saturn 3 is a sci-fi horror film.  The movie originally was slated to direct by the creator John Barry, but Barry had a falling out with Kirk Douglas (John Barry later died of meningitis while working as a second unit director for Star Wars:  The Empire Strikes Back).  The film was poorly received and was nominated for Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Actor (Douglas) and Worst Actress (Fawcett).

Star Wars jumpstarted attempts to make successful space films.  Disney tried with The Black Hole and Saturn 3 feels like a similar attempt.  Saturn 3 feels like a bunch of movies crammed into an hour and a half and none of them quite work.

saturn 3 farrah fawcett kirk douglas

I either get old Kirk Douglas or a robot wearing Harvey Keitel’s face…I’m not getting many options here

The problem with the movie starts immediately (in a rather cool looking space station).  Keitel’s character is immediately insane, kills another man and hijacks a ship meant for another man…and no one seems to notice.  It then becomes this stand-off between Douglas and Keitel over Fawcett and then a stand-off between a Keitel possessed Hector and Douglas.  It no flow and anything “odd” about characters behavior is written off as the mentality of people living in the time.

The cast is also really strange.  Keitel was hired but they didn’t want the character to have a Brooklyn accent so Roy Dotrice dubbed his voice.  Douglas (who is quite old in the film) is fitter than most older men (he and Fawcett both have nude scenes) but it doesn’t help that it feels like he’s a lecher when pawing at Farrah Fawcett who just feels like a dim, sheltered damsel-in-distress through the movie.

saturn 3 hector robot harvey keitel face

Guess who I am…I’m not Hector.

Saturn 3 looks pretty big.  The sets look expansive and I honestly think Hector is a bit frightening (though the stupid eye pieces on the top of his body look more like Wall-E than anything dangerous.  I just wish Hector had landed in a better movie.

Saturn 3 is a movie that looks good but is kind of a mess.  It feels like the adult version of Disney’s The Black Hole (also a mess) and the movie can’t decide where the danger lies.  If Saturn 3 had been a TV show, it would have made more sense.  For the first four or five episodes, Keitel’s character would have been revealed to have been crazy, become a threat, and died.  The second half of the series would have been Hector the robot assuming Keitel’s life and the danger.  In a short movie, this plot doesn’t really work well…and Saturn 3 pays the price…regardless if Hector is somewhat scary.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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