Hercules (1983)

Hercules (1983)

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Today’s feature is 1983’s Hercules, starring Lou Ferrigno.

Hercules was written and directed by noted Italian b-movie director Luigi Cozzi, under the anglicized pseudonym of Lewis Coates. His other films include the infamous Star Wars knockoff Starcrash, The Adventures of Hercules II, and a bizarre recut and colorization of the original Godzilla.

The cinematographer for the film was Alberto Spagnoli, who also shot movies like The Last Shark, Daisy Miller, and The Adventures of Hercules II.

Hercules had two credited editors: Sergio Montanari (Django, Starcrash, The Adventures of Hercules II) and James Beshears, who has worked on sound editing for movies like Fortress, Tango & Cash, and The Fugitive.

hercules19833Hercules was produced in part by the infamous Israeli duo of Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan, who built a legendary reputation for churning out b-movies during their run leading The Cannon Group, such as Enter The Ninja, Over The Top, Masters of the Universe, and Ninja III: The Domination. The executive producer for the film was John Thompson, who has since produced action movies like The Legend of Hercules, The Expendables, Mansquito, and Olympus Has Fallen.

The musical score for Hercules was composed by Pino Donaggio, whose film credits include Carrie, Piranha, Dressed To Kill, Body Double, and Raising Cain.

The special effects work for Hercules was done in part by Germano Natali, who also worked on such movies as The Gaul, King Solomon’s Mines, Devil Fish, Starcrash, and Suspiria.

The cast of the Hercules is made up primarily by Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk, Frogtown II), Sybil Danning (Battle Beyond The Stars, Howling II), Mirella D’Angelo (Caligula), William Berger (Keoma, Devil Fish), Rossana Podestà (Helen of Troy, Horror Castle), and Brad Harris (Samson, The Fury of Hercules).

hercules19832The plot of Hercules, according to Wikipedia, is as follows:

The film is a retelling of the story of Hercules (Lou Ferrigno) battling the wizard Minos (William Berger), who uses “science” in an attempt to take over the world. Hercules must stop him and rescue his princess love in the process.

Hercules was nominated for five Golden Raspberry awards, which are given out annually to the worst films and performances of the year. Ultimately, it wound up ‘winning’ two of the infamous awards: Worst Supporting Actress for Sybil Danning, and Worst New Star for Lou Ferrigno.

Hercules was filmed back to back with the film The Seven Magnificent Gladiators, which features much of the same cast. However, it was directed and written by two even more infamous b-movie creators than Lugi Cozzi: Claudio Fragasso (Troll 2, Women’s Prison Massacre) and Bruno Mattei (Hell of the Living Dead, Rats: Night of Terror).

Apparently, there were significant disagreements among the cast and crew regarding the sort of direction and content the screenplay should take: Ferrigno reportedly adamantly demanded a family-friendly film, while Menahem Golan was in favor of the original vision, which included far more violence and sexual content. Ultimately, Ferrigno won out, and the screenplay was significantly altered.

Hercules currently holds a 3.7 rating on IMDb, along with a 14% critics’ aggregate score on Rotten Tomatoes. However, it proved profitable for the company, and has become a bit of a cult classic over the years: it even received a sequel two years later, which is confusingly known by the names Hercules II, The Adventures of Hercules, and The Adventures of Hercules II.

There is a lot to say about the bizarre epic that is 1983’s Hercules. This is the perfect example of a movie with a truly grand vision without even the slightest capacity to fulfill it. On paper, for example, a cosmic adaptation of the Greek gods living among the stars is pretty interesting, but the cheesiness of the execution that appears in this movie is nothing less than ridiculous. Likewise, wrestling a bear is a pretty impressive feat, but without a budget, it winds up just being stock footage and a guy flailing around in a bear suit. Honestly, I’m not sure how anyone expected throwing a bear into space would look decent, though.

Personally, I think there is a lot to enjoy about this movie. As cheesy as the visuals are, they are also pretty compelling and vibrant, and certainly not your typical sword and sandal fare. There is something to be said for this movie having a unique and peculiar vision to it that provides a certain charm. Likewise, Lou Ferrigno absolutely looks the part of the most famous demigod of lore. If it weren’t for the ridiculous acting, writing, and effects, this might have been a legitimately enjoyable low budget feature. As it stands, though, it is a hilariously entertaining b-movie with some of the most ludicrously memorable sequences I’ve seen in a long time.

Bad movie fans absolutely need to check out this adaptation of Hercules. It has just about everything you could want from a b-movie: bad acting, over-the-top costuming, bizarre writing, cheap effects (including lots of memorable stop motion), silly action, and some behind the scenes intrigue. It isn’t quite Plan 9, Troll 2, or The Room, but it is definitely something special that needs to be experienced.

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Little Hercules in 3-D

Little Hercules in 3-D

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Today’s feature is yet another retelling of the tale of Hercules: 2009’s Little Hercules in 3-D.

The screenplay for Little Hercules in 3-D was written by Robert Boris, whose other credits include Doctor Detroit, Some Kind of Hero, Electra Glide In Blue, Oxford Blues, Extreme Justice, and Frank & Jesse. Little Hercules in 3-D was directed by executive producer Moh Khashoggi, and is his sole directorial credit to date.

littlehercules3The music for the movie was composed by Mark Denis, who primarily provides music for big budget movie trailers, including ones for The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ulton, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and Battleship. To date, Little Hercules in 3-D is his only feature film composition credit.

The effects work for Little Hercules in 3-D was provided by a team that included Kristina Duff (So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent), Michelle DeMilt (New Girl, The Voice, Glee), Angel Radefeld (After Earth, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), David Kenneth (Green Lantern), Dennis Michel (Drag Me To Hell), Ken Pellegrino (The Expendables 3, Fury), Malcolm Sim (From Dusk Till Dawn 3), Michael F. Hoover (Foodfight, Torque, DeepStar Six), and Jim Carbonetti (The Faculty, Simon Sez),

The cast of Little Hercules in 3-D includes recently-disgraced wrestler Hulk Hogan (Suburban Commando, Santa With Muscles, No Holds Barred), John Heard (CHUD, Cat People, After Hours, Home Alone), Judd Nelson (Hail Caesar, The Breakfast Club, The Boondock Saints II), Elliott Gould (MASH, Ocean’s Eleven, The Long Goodbye, Capricorn One, American History X), Diane Venora (Wolfen, The Cotton Club, Heat, The Substitute, The 13th Warrior), David Naughton (An American Werewolf In London), and professional wrestler Paul Wight, who uses the stage names The Big Show and The Giant.

littlehercules2The plot of Little Hercules in 3-D is summarized on IMDb as follows:

Little Hercules travels from Mt. Olympus to live life as a mortal in Los Angeles.

Little Hercules in 3-D takes its title from the nickname of the movie’s star, Richard Sandrak, who earned the name “Little Hercules” from being a well-known child bodybuilder.

littlehercules4Little Hercules in 3-D currently holds an unenviable 2.8 user rating on IMDb, along with a 25% audience score on the review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes.

This first thing that struck me about Little Hercules is that the plot is strikingly similar to another movie that I covered some time ago on the blog: Hercules in New York, which is notable for being Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lead acting debut. Despite how awful that film is, Little Hercules is somehow far worse despite having far more talent involved on screen.

This brings me to my second notable observation about this movie: all of the actors (particularly the experienced ones) act like someone off-screen is pointing a gun at them. They are clearly reciting a sub-par screenplay line-for-line with no wiggle room for improvisation or rewrites, and the effect is that they all sound terrible. In particular, both Hulk Hogan (a bad actor) and Elliott Gould (a good actor) come off looking like equivalent emotionless husks.

Speaking of which, how on earth is Elliott Gould in this movie? Overall, the flick looks like a live action children’s television show, but it is peppered with notable actors throughout the accessory cast who are far above this kind of schlock, including John Heard, Judd Nelson, and Diane Venora. I’m not sure if someone involved with the production was well-connected, or if there was just inexplicably a whole lot of money to burn on the tertiary cast.

Little Hercules looks absolutely terrible from just about any perspective that you can look at it from, and it is excruciating to sit through. Outside of inexplicably having some competent actors involved, the awful script and direction overcome any potential good that might have come of this project. Even the involvement of Gods can’t make me give a damn about a child’s track meet. Unless you are alarmingly curious, there is just no reason to deal with watching this mess.

Hercules Against The Moon Men

Hercules Against The Moon Men

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Today’s feature is the bafflingly-titled Hercules Against the Moon Men, from 1964.

Hercules Against The Moon Men was co-written and directed by Giacomo Gentilomo (Goliath and The Vampires, The Last of the Vikings), along with Arpad DeRiso (Hercules and The Black Pirates), Angelo Sangermano (There’s A Spy In My Bed), and Giovanni Scolaro (Dead Are Countless).

The cinematographer for the film was Oberdani Troiani, who also shot the movie The Giant of Metropolis, as well as the Orson Welles adaptation of Othello.

herculesmoon4The effects work for Hercules Against The Moon Men was done by Ugo Amodoro (Atom Age Vampires) and Antonio Marini (The Fury of Hercules).

The plot of Hercules Against The Moon Men is summarized on IMDb as follows:

Hercules is summoned to oppose the evil Queen Samara, who has allied herself with aliens and is sacrificing her own people in a bid to awaken a moon goddess.

According to IMDb, Hercules Against the Moon Men was the fourth and final movie in a series of Italian-made “Hercules” (more on that in a bit) films that spanned from the late 1950s to the early 1960s, and included Hercules Unchained, Hercules and The Captive Women, and 1958’s Hercules.

Hercules Against The Moon Men was the featured movie on the tenth episode of the fourth season of cult favorite television show Mystery Science Theater 3000, which exposed the movie to a far wider audience than had previously seen it.

In the italian version, the hero of the story is not named Hercules, but Maciste, a popular Italian hero featured in many adventure films. The original title of the movie was even Maciste and The Queen Of Samar. It was the decision of the producers and the dubbers to change the name of the character (and, subsequently, the film), as Maciste is not widely known to western audiences.

The director of Hercules Against The Moon Men, Giacomo Gentilomo, retired from film making after completing the picture, and became a painter.

herculesmoon3Hercules Against The Moon Men currently holds an IMDb user rating of 2.6, alongside a Rotten Tomatoes audience aggregate score of 17%.

One of the most infamous sequences in Hercules Against The Moon Men features a sandstorm on screen that obscures all of the action for multiple minutes. That is perfectly indicative of the kind of shoddy workmanship was put into this move from top to bottom.

herculesmoon2More so than most bad movies I have seen, Hercules Against The Moon Men feels like a completely passionless production, like no one behind or in front of the camera was present for any other reason than a paycheck. One of the things that makes many memorable bad movies unique is how much misplaced passion and dedication is put into them by genuinely inept creators, who simply take on tasks too big for their capacity.  When that element is missing, the finished product is almost always unwatchably dull, even if there are brief moments of entertainment. Outside of the goofy designs of the Moon Men and the inexplicably perpetually-oiled appearance of Hercules, there isn’t a whole lot to enjoy here.

That said, MST3k has a way of making the unbearable bearable, and their take on Hercules Against The Moon Men is a classic episode in the beloved series, and for good reason. If you are curious about this movie, I recommend watching it with the help of Joel and the bots.

The Legend of Hercules

The Legend of Hercules

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Today’s feature is widely considered to be one of the worst theatrical releases of 2014: The Legend of Hercules.

The Legend of Hercules had four credited writers, including director Renny Harlin, Sean Hood (Cube 2: Hypercube, Conan The Barbarian, Halloween: Resurrection), and two guys names Giulio Steve and Dianial Giat, who only have a handful of credits between them.

The Legend of Hercules was directed, produced, and co-written by Renny Harlin, who is best known for movies like Driven, Deep Blue Sea, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Mindhunters, Die Hard 2, 12 Rounds, Cliffhanger, and Cutthroat Island.

The cinematographer for the film was Sam McCurdy, who has shot such movies as The Descent, Dog Soldiers, and Centurion.

The editor for The Legend of Hercules was Vincent Tabaillon, who has also cut the flicks Taken 2, Now You See Me, and The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton.

The team of producers for the film, outside of director Renny Harlin, included Boaz Davidson (Olympus Has Fallen, The Expendables, The Expendables 2, It’s Alive), Avi Lerner (American Ninja 2, Howling IV, Shark Attack 3), Danny Lerner (Cyborg Cop, Cyborg Cop 2), Trevor Short (The Iceman, Drive Angry), Lonnie Ramati (Stolen, Shark in Venice), Nikki Stanghetti (12 Rounds), John Thompson (The Expendables 3), David Varod (300: Rise of an Empire), and Les Weldon (Replicant).

The musical score for the movie was provided by Tuomas Kantelinen, who also provided music for the films Mindhunters, Mongol, and Arn: The Knight Templar.

The makeup effects team for The Legend of Hercules included Angela Angelova (300: Rise of an Empire), Daniela Avramova (Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys), Sofi Hvarleva (The Black Dahlia), Yana Stoyanova (Getaway, Hitman), Petya Simeonova (Raptor Island, Alien Apocalypse), and Ivon Ivanova (Manquito),

The special effects unit for the film was made up of Mark Meddings (Mortal Kombat: Annihilation), Reggie Rizzo (Jingle All The Way, Mad Max: Fury Road), Pini Klavir (Iron Eagle), Peter Nikolov (War, Inc.), Ivo Jivkov (Universal Soldier: Regeneration), Timothy Huizing (Jack and Jill, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, Small Soldiers), Nikolay Fartunkov (Wrong Turn 3), and Jovko Dogandjiski (Shark Attack 2).

The extensive visual effects work for The Legend of Hercules were provided by a number of different companies, including Rhythm and Hues (Babe, Life of Pi), Prime Focus (Pixels, The Martian), Crafty Apes (Foxcatcher, White House Down), Basilic Fly (The Smurfs, Green Lantern), and Ghost VFX (Jurassic World, Pacific Rim).

The cast of the movie is made up of Kellan Lutz (Twilight), Gaia Weiss (Vikings), Scott Adkins (Zero Dark Thirty), Roxanne McKee (Dominion), Kenneth Cranham (Maleficent), Luke Newberry (Anna Karenina), Johnathon Schaech (Quarantine), Rade Serbedzija (Snatch, Eyes Wide Shut), Liam McIntyre (Spartacus: War of the Damned), and Liam Garrigan (Once Upon A Time).

KELLAN LUTZ stars in THE LEGEND OF HERCULESThe plot of The Legend of Hercules is summarized on IMDb as follows:

The origin story of the the mythical Greek hero. Betrayed by his stepfather, the King, and exiled and sold into slavery because of a forbidden love, Hercules must use his formidable powers to fight his way back to his rightful kingdom.

As I have mentioned in some other reviews, every once in a while multiple films with nearly identical concepts will release within close proximity of each other. For example, The Abyss, DeepStar Six, and Leviathan all popped up in 1989, Red Planet and Mission to Mars released within months of each other, and Volcano and Dante’s Peak both hit theaters in 1997. As it so happens, 2014 saw two theatrical features centering on the character of Hercules: The Legend of Hercules, which came out in January, and Hercules, starring Dwayne Johnson, that released in July.

The Legend of Hercules was nominated for six 2014 Golden Raspberry awards, including ones for Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Actress, and Worst Director. However, it did not wind up ‘winning’ any of the infamous awards.

The Legend of Hercules was made on a budget of $70 million, on which it grossed just over $61 million in its theatrical run. However, almost all of that was from foreign markets, as the film proved to be a complete flop domestically. Critics and audiences were likewise less than thrilled with the product: it currently holds a 4.2 on IMDb, along with Rotten Tomatoes scores of 3% from critics and 33% from audiences.

legendofhercules3The Legend of Hercules is best described as a hybrid of Gladiator and 300 with all of the vision and talent siphoned out. Nothing about the film feels at all unique, and not just because the story of Hercules has been told so many times. In fact, the odd retelling of the story is the most original aspect of the movie if you ask me. The lack of originality mostly comes out in the visuals (constant color filters and mimicked shots from, of course, Gladiator and 300), the dialogue (which is boring at best), and even in the casting itself: there are a couple of characters who were clearly cast specifically to look like actors from 300.

I can sort of see what the production was going for with this movie, and it might have even been successful if it had been done a few years earlier. 300, at this point, was almost 8 years in the past, which is way too long to wait to make a knock-off like this. The other thing that really surprised me was the production budget, which was estimated at $70 million. Personally, I think this looks like a pretty cheap movie, and has the appearance of an upper-end straight-to-DVD offering. I have a hunch that this high of a budget wasn’t originally part of the plan, and that the visual effects and theatrical release was done in hopes that an already sunk budget could be recovered by doubling down. And, to their credit, they made most of that money back.

Overall, I think The Legend of Hercules is a watchable movie, but it is unquestionably dull, and doesn’t bring anything remotely unique to the table. Outside of a couple of sequences of laughably bad CGI, there isn’t a lot of good-bad entertainment to be had here. Unless this movie is somehow thrust upon you, I don’t think it is really worth seeking out. But, if you do happen upon it while flipping channels, it makes for decent enough background noise.

Twixt

Twixt

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Today’s entry into the continuing spotlight on bad movies by good directors is Francis Ford Coppola’s Twixt.

Twixt was written, produced, and directed by New Hollywood legend Francis Ford Coppola, whose works include Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, The Godfather, The Godfather Part 2, The Godfather Part 3, Dracula, The Outsiders, and The Cotton Club. However, he is also well known for having one of the steepest career declines in cinema history, in which he descended from being one of the greatest working directors in the business to being an at-best middling player.

The cinematographer for Twixt was Mihai Malaimare Jr., who has most notably shot The Master, Tetro, Youth Without Youth, and A Walk Among The Tombstones.

The editor for the film was Glen Scantlebury, who also cut Armageddon, Con Air, Stolen, and Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 take on Dracula.

The makeup and special effects work on Twixt was provided by a team that included Aurora Bergere (Joy, Gone Girl, The Master, Argo), Doug E. Williams (Moneyball, Howard The Duck), and Dick Wood (The Running Man, Freejack, Starman, Jaws 3-D).

The visual effects unit for Twixt included Michal Cavoj (Salt, Blackhat), Catherine Craig (Van Helsing, Willow), Ales Dlabac (Perfume, Season of the Witch), David Ebner (The Happening, Dracula 2000, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Core), Benjamin Hawkins (Spawn, After Earth), and Lukas Herrmann (Snowpiercer, Perfume), among many others.

The cast of Twixt includes Val Kilmer (The Island of Dr. Moreau, Heat, Red Planet, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Batman Forever, Top Gun, Alexander), Bruce Dern (Nebraska, The Hateful Eight, The Burbs, Bloody Mama), Elle Fanning (Babel, Super 8), Ben Chaplin (The Thin Red Line), Joanne Whalley (Willow, The Man Who Knew Too Little), David Paymer (Get Shorty, Drag Me To Hell), Ryan Simpkins (Space Warriors, A Single Man), and Tom Waits (The Cotton Club, Mystery Men, Seven Psychopaths).

twixt3The plot of Twixt is summarized on IMDb as follows:

A writer with a declining career arrives in a small town as part of his book tour and gets caught up in a murder mystery involving a young girl. That night in a dream, he is approached by a mysterious young ghost named V. He’s unsure of her connection to the murder in the town, but is grateful for the story being handed to him. Ultimately he is led to the truth of the story, surprised to find that the ending has more to do with his own life than he could ever have anticipated.

Twixt currently holds Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 29% from critics and 18% from audiences, alongside a 4.8 user rating on IMDb. The movie only got a limited theatrical release, which means that it came up far shy of its $7 million budget.

The cinematography and visuals in Twixt for the most part look pretty good, if not a bit over the top, but there’s certainly no indications of this being Coppola’s handiwork. It looks like it could have been a debut picture for any semi-anonymous indie director nowadays, which isn’t saying much. The colors are certainly memorable throughout the movie, but I couldn’t help but feel like it went a bit overboard with the contrast.

However, Twixt does have a huge weakness that makes it nearly unwatchable: the writing lacks even the slightest semblance of coherence, as if Coppola was deliberately trying to outdo Twin Peaks and went a few steps too far into the void in the process. It might not be immediately evident from reading this blog, but I’m for a good art movie. That said, there is such a thing as trying too hard, and this movie absolutely reeks of it.  My guess is that Coppola over-corrected in the hopes of creating a laudable and redeeming art movie, and the result is transparently desperate.

twixt2Personally, I don’t think Twixt is a total failure of a movie. There are certainly some redeeming aspects to it, and I understand why some people have found it enjoyable. Personally, however, I really couldn’t get past how muddled the story and writing were. Despite some really good performances from Val Kilmer and Bruce Dern, as well as some decent cinematography, I would generally advise avoiding Twixt. Unless you have a high tolerance for nonsense or are on a completion crusade through the filmography of Francis Ford Coppola, give Twixt a pass.

B-Fest 2016!

I’m happy to say that I will be attending the 2016 B-fest on the Northwestern University campus in Evanston, IL next weekend (January 21-22).

For those that aren’t aware, B-fest is a 24 hour b-movie festival held annually on the Northwestern University campus, and has gained a significant amount of acclaim over the years since its 1981 inception.  The lineup for this year’s festivities was just announced recently, and I’m pretty excited, primarily because I don’t know many of the features.

I’ll have some coverage of the event on the blog once I’m back, not unlike what I did for Gateway Film Center’s Groundhog Day Marathon last year. Sadly, I’ll be missing the 24-hour Groundhog Day event this year, but I highly encourage curious people to check it out.

If any of you bad movie enthusiasts happen to be attending B-fest this year as well, let me know! Feel free to leave a comment or shoot me a message at mail@misantropey.com.

Saturn 3

Saturn 3

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Continuing my current spotlight on the “Worst of the Best,” today’s feature is Stanley Donen’s 1980 science fiction flick Saturn 3.

The story for Saturn 3 is credited to John Barry, a production designer who worked on Star Wars, A Clockwork Orange, and Superman, and who was initially set to direct the film. The screenplay, however, was provided by acclaimed writer Martin Amis, and is to date his only listed screenplay credit on IMDb.

Saturn 3 was directed and produced by Stanley Donen, who is best known for memorable movies like Singin’ In The Rain, Charade, Funny Face, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, and Bedazzled, but also closed out his career with a string of failures like Blame It On Rio, Lucky Lady, and Saturn 3.

The cinematographer for the movie was Billy Williams, whose career shooting credits include Gandhi, On Golden Pond, The Manhattan Project, and Voyage of the Damned.

The editor for Saturn 3 was Richard Marden, who cut movies like Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Blame It On Rio, and Sleuth, among many others.

Outside of director Stanley Donen, the producers for Saturn 3 were assistant director Eric Rattray, who was a producer on Labyrinth and an assistant director on Dr. Strangelove, and Martin Starger, whose credits include The Last Unicorn, Sophie’s Choice, Nashville, and The Muppet Movie.

The effects team for Saturn 3 included Colin Chilvers (Tommy, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Superman), Ann Brodie (Supergirl, Moonstruck, Barry Lyndon), Leonard Engelman (The Island of Doctor Moreau, Burlesque), Pauline Heys (Supergirl, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), Michael Dunleavy (Judge Dredd, Aliens, Supergirl, Krull), Peter Hutchinson (Moon, Star Wars Episode I), Terry Schubert (The Dark Crystal, Event Horizon), Roy Spencer (Lifeforce), Peter Parks (DeepStar Six, Leonard Part 6), Chris Corbould (Hudson Hawk, Highlander II, Supergirl), and Joe Fitt (Legend).

The musical score for Saturn 3 was composed by Elmer Bernstein, who also provided music for movies like Wild Wild West, Slipstream (1989), My Left Foot, Spies Like Us, Leonard Part 6, Ghostbusters, Heavy Metal, Airplane!, and Animal House, among many others. However, very little of his original score was used thanks to significant re-edits and the change of director on the film.

The cast for Saturn 3 is made up of Kirk Douglas (Paths of Glory, Spartacus, In Harm’s Way, Gunfight At The OK Corral, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea), Harvey Keitel (Star Knight, Beeper, Bad Lieutenant. Pulp Fiction, Taxi Driver, Reservoir Dogs), Farrah Fawcett (Logan’s Run, The Cannonball Run, Dr. T and The Women, Myra Breckinridge), and Roy Dotrice (Swimming With Sharks, Suburban Commando, Beauty and the Beast, Amadeus).

The plot of Saturn 3 is summarized on IMDb as follows:

Two lovers stationed at a remote base in the asteroid fields of Saturn are intruded upon by a retentive technocrat from Earth and his charge: a malevolent 8-ft robot. Remember, in space no one can hear you scream.

saturnthree2Saturn 3 had a change of director part way through filming, when Stanley Donen, who was initially just a producer on the project, took over many directing duties, which led to first time director John Barry leaving the production. Barry tragically died not long afterwards in 1979, while working on The Empire Strikes Back.

Bizarrely, Harvey Keitel’s voice is dubbed over throughout the film by character and voice actor Roy Dotrice, reportedly because Stanley Donen disliked Keitel’s natural Brooklyn accent.

Saturn 3 received three Golden Raspberry nominations in the first year of the award’s existence. The “Razzies” are now annually given out to the judged worst films and performances of a given year. Kirk Douglas and Farah Fawcett were both nominated for Worst Actor/Actress respectively, and the film as a whole was nominated for Worst Picture.

Currently, Saturn 3 holds an IMDb user rating of 5.0, alongside Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 10% from critics and 31% from audiences. The film’s budget was reportedly cut early on, but it almost certainly failed to turn a profit with a $9 million total domestic gross.

First off, the dubbing work done over Kietel is beyond strange to me. The man has a distinct and instantly recognizable voice, so it seems bizarre that he would even be cast if there was an issue with his accent. The change in director part-way in might explain that to some degree, but Donen was already involved as a producer before taking on directing duties. Either way, it is impossible that a Brooklyn accent would be less distracting than an odd dubbing.

Kirk Douglas and Farah Fawcett, who are undoubtedly the core of this movie, couldn’t possibly have less chemistry between them. Personally, I’m shocked that both of them were cast, because the story essentially mandates a legitimate and believable level of compatibility between an older man and a younger woman, which just isn’t delivered here at all. Without that emotional center, the already flimsy story certainly doesn’t hold any water.

Speaking of which, the film is written almost entirely about anxieties over romantic age differences, with a thin veneer of science fiction on top. While that isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard, the result here just isn’t terribly interesting. Whereas Logan’s Run and Soylent Green successfully tapped into anxieties relating to age and aging, Saturn 3 manages to completely miss that mark, and fails to resonate at all as a result. The casting certainly contributed to this, but I don’t think the writing did them any favors either.

saturnthree3Roger Ebert was always at the top of his game when he wrote reviews for bad movies, and Saturn 3 was certainly no exception. His coverage of the movie nicely sums up one of its most glaring issues: the story and content is both astoundingly shallow.

The love triangle between Douglas, Fawcett and Keitel is so awkwardly and unbelievably handled that we are left in stunned indifference. The purpose of Keitel’s visit is left so unclear we can’t believe Douglas would accept it. The hostility of the robot is unexplained.

This movie is awesomely stupid, totally implausible from a scientific viewpoint, and a shameful waste of money. If Grade and Kastner intend to continue producing films with standards this low, I think they ought instead, in simple fairness, to simply give their money to filmmakers at random. The results couldn’t be worse.

Overall, Saturn 3 is a movie that had a potentially interesting vision behind it, but never quite got realized. It is mostly just a boring feature to sit through, but there is a peculiar sort of nostalgic value to sitting through it that helps fill in the void of conventional entertainment offered. Bad movie fans could certainly find something to enjoy here, but I don’t think it would hold much for general audiences.