Also known as: The Helper (working title), Saturn-City (Germany), Kronos III (Greece)
Release Date: February 15th, 1980
Directed by: Stanley Donen, John Barry (uncredited)
Written by: Martin Amis, John Barry
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Cast: Farrah Fawcett, Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel
ITC Entertainment, Associated Film Distribution, 88 Minutes
“Now tell me. Can you talk? Or are you malfunctioning?” – Benson, “I AM NOT MALFUNCTIONING – YOU ARE” – Hector
This film has three actors and a killer robot. Well two actors, a robot and Farrah Fawcett, who isn’t as robotic as the robot but is clearly overshadowed by the two other actors in this: Kirk Douglas and Harvey Keitel. Fawcett was the top billed star however, as she was at the absolute height of her career when this came out and she got her boobies out, which was something to behold when I was way too young to see this film for the first time.
I remembered this movie feeling incredibly cheesy and it does have a lot of cheese. However, it is also better than my memory’s recollection of it.
This film is pretty damn dark for looking like it was made on leftover sets from Battlestar Galactica. The robot is creepier than most of the killer robots from the time period. However, the story behind the robot and why it is a killer is more interesting than what similar films did, as he actually has a backstory and you fully understand why he is out for blood.
This film has a lot of narrative layers to it, which was impressive for a 1980 sci-fi film with an obviously small budget. There is some real philosophy in this movie, which was way over my head as a kid.
Harvey Keitel was a great slimeball in this but he wasn’t as disturbing as his role in Taxi Driver. But he did bring some of that darkness into this and he was great as the villainous Benson.
Kirk Douglas was typical Kirk Douglas as the more heroic male character of the two and he just came off as he always does, as a real man’s man.
Fawcett was also pretty impressive when you compare this to her most famous role as one of Charlie’s Angels. She got to be dramatic in this and showed signs that she could perform well beyond just being a TV sex symbol. I wouldn’t say that she ever became great but had her career continued on an upward trajectory, she wouldn’t have been half bad.
Saturn 3 looks fantastical and lighthearted in its style but it is a pretty dark movie with some disturbing undertones to it. It’s definitely worth checking out if you like sci-fi films of its era.
Pairs well with: Outland, The Black Hole, Flash Gordon (1980), The Last Starfighter, Dune and the original Battlestar Galactica TV series.