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Dustin Putman

Dustin's Blu-ray Review
Saturn 3  (1980)
Reviewed by Dustin Putman

The Film
2 Stars
(Release Date: December 3, 2013) – "Saturn 3" arrived in theaters eight months after Ridley Scott's "Alien." Like that classic space-set monster movie, this one featured a seasoned pedigree: the director was Stanley Donen of "Singin' in the Rain" fame, and the cast included Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel and, riding high from TV's "Charlie's Angels," Farrah Fawcett. Unlike "Alien," however, "Saturn 3" had a troubled production, was drastically edited down to 88 minutes, and got lost in the shadow of its more popular Sigourney Weaver-starring precursor. Viewing the film thirty-three years removed from when it came out reveals a plodding but visually pertinent sci-fi/thriller with better ideas than ultimate follow-through. Set on an isolated sector located around the sixth planet from the sun, happy couple Adam (Kirk Douglas) and Alex (Farrah Fawcett) are visited by the enigmatic Benson (Harvey Keitel), whose helper robot named Hector starts to grow a dangerous mind of its own. With communication cut off and an eclipse in full effect, Adam and Alex must find a way to outsmart this electronic invader or become its latest victims. "Saturn 3" works best as an early-'80s curiosity and has some striking imagery despite effects work that appears relatively primitive by today's standards. What it doesn't do is make sense, with Benson's—and later, Hector's—motivations sketchy at best. Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett are particularly ill-suited as a couple, with Douglas over thirty years Fawcett's senior. "Saturn 3" will be most of interest for camp enthusiasts and fans of all things sci-fi.

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

Revived with a new high-definition 1080p transfer, "Saturn 3" has a few minimal drawbacks but looks better than it ever has. The opening shots do not aspire much confidence—there are specks, dirt and hair galore—but this clears up very quickly to make way for an impressive presentation of clarity and even freshness. With the additional exception of a bit of fleeting flicker in a few scenes, the picture is professionally rendered and grain is always natural and well resolved. Detail is also solid. All things considered, the film looks great for a forgotten relic of a bygone era. The lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Audio Master is amazingly dynamic for a catalogue title of this age, the rumble and roar of spacecrafts zooming around Saturn surrounding the viewer from all sides. There is also a DTS-HD 2.0 audio track available.

Blu-ray Features
Audio Commentary with Greg Moss ("Saturn 3" Fan Site) and film critic David Bradley; Interviews with Academy Award-winning special effects artist Colin Chilvers (15:55, HD) and actor Roy Dotrice, who dubbed the voice of Harvey Keitel's Captain Benson (6:29, HD); Deleted "Ecstasy" Scene (3:32, HD); Additional scenes from the network television version (9:55, HD); Theatrical Trailer (2:55, HD); TV Spots (0:52, SD); and Still Gallery (5:23, HD)

Bottom Line
Scream Factory's Blu-ray release of "Saturn 3" is another rock-solid offering from one of the premier home video genre labels, bringing light to a quirky, all-but-forgotten horror film. The film isn't necessarily "good" by conventional measures, but it is an interesting failure, and one that is just wacky enough that it will be a welcome addition to serious Blu-ray collections and supporters of Scream Factory's outstanding work. A number of fascinating special features, including a commentary track, a couple of in-depth interviews, and a ridiculously insane deleted scene, round out the package. Recommended.

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© 2013 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman