I Saw A Film!

In a kind of updated variation on the old Bruce Dern Silent Running sci-fi/robot adventure set in space, we now have Farrah Fawcett and Kirk Douglas in a far off-planet (Titan!) hydroponic garden apparently supplying food to Earth (them gotta be some expensive potatoes!). When who should arrive but Harvey Keitel with a bunch of his automatons set on taking over the place. We don’t really get a sense of why this is such a big deal, but maybe he wants to control the price of veggies. Farrah expresses her jealousy that Keitel’s character has recently been able to breath regular air freely, but Douglas points out that you’re taking your life in your hands breathing Earth’s air.

Keitel’s Captain character (he replaced the actual captain who was set to come to the garden, through a diabolical murder) is not on the base five minutes before he’s hitting on Farrah (well, it is Farrah after all, and being the only hottie in space is going to have that effect), “You’re only for his consumption?” Keitel asks sternly. “Yup!” she replies. This is apparently very anti-social by Earth standards, but Farrah is unimpressed.

Soon enough, Keitel has built an impressive towering mechanical monster that also has the hots for Farrah. This is explained by the robot taking on characteristics of its programmer. What Keitel thinks, also the robot thinks. The robot (I always like to point out that “robot” is a Russian word for worker or slave “Rabt”. And was first introduced in literature by Karel Capek, who wrote one of my favorite books War With the Newts, thank you) makes a lot of alarming noise, but much to Keitel’s frustration will not directly speak. Brian Eno had not yet been hired to create the sounds of Windows, but rest assured he would not have outfitted this automaton with the kinds of noises that yank human beings out of sound sleep, ball our fists and set our teeth on edge.

A battle ensues, of course, the cost is high, though weirdly pointless, and expected. I went to look up some reviews of this film to make sure I didn’t miss Keitel’s purpose, but it looks like I didn’t. Most other reviews also state the weird lack of reason. The big robot, called Hector (masculine for some reason, even though Keitel’s bureaucrat seems like he’d be less emotional about giving the noisy machine monster a gender value instantly starts referring to it as “he”) turns on Keitel when the replacement Captain attacks Farrah! The one big hole in the story is that Douglas and Farrah forget that Keitel brought three robots and when they dismantle the big’un the little’uns rebuild. I can’t imagine overlooking this little possibility when “staking the vampire” but then dumber things have happened in this world, and especially in cinema history.

This little thriller is running free on PRIME in USA and while only about as entertaining as a typical episode of Space 1999 (hey, sometimes that was pretty good!) it is really enjoyable to see this trio together, I had no idea.

3 thoughts on “Saturn 3 (1980)

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