Fitzpatrix

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Tag Archives: horror

“Blanked as ordered”: Saturn 3

It’s only a day away until Goth Christmas (otherwise known as Halloween) and I’ve decided to take a look at a strange example of a film in the subgenre of science fiction horror. 1980’s Saturn 3, released with an eye toward the audience that lauded Ridley Scott’s 1979 breakthrough hit Alien, is the subject of a great deal of controversy in regard to its behind-the-scenes woes. Martin Amis, the British novelist who wrote the screenplay for Saturn 3, was able to cash in on the contention with his 1984 novel Money, which is based on his own experience during the calamitous production of the movie. Are the various production problems visible in the final film? Let’s find out as we take a look at this Razzie Award-nominated sci-fi thriller.

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Skynet’s development of the T-800 went through some growing pains.

If Saturn 3 has any strengths, the performances certainly wouldn’t be counted among them. Watching Kirk Douglas’s hammy, almost parodic turn as the scientist Adam could make one long to see a Douglas-impersonating Frank Gorshin take up the role. It doesn’t help that he has very little chemistry with Harvey Keitel, who portrays the villainous cargo pilot Benson, and Farrah Fawcett, who comes across as monotonous in her performance of Adam’s assistant Alex. It’s pretty unfortunate when the best actor in your movie is your key practical effect. The prop in question is Hector, an advanced robot built by Benson who, in true HAL 9000 fashion, rebels against Adam’s crew. As a space-based thriller with a small cast, it takes a lot of its cues from Alien, right down to a scene that echoes Jonesy the cat’s encounter with the Xenomorph. Veteran director Stanley Donen (Singin’ in the Rain) does the best he can with the story, which was conceived by Star Wars production designer John Barry, but most of the scenes lack energy or imagination. Saturn 3’s saving grace is Elmer Bernstein’s vibrant score, which conveys menace and mystery when the visuals and acting aren’t up to the task.

Overall, I can’t really say you should skip Saturn 3 entirely. The effects and imagery are believably frightening and some of the design work is intriguing, especially the weirdly unique and appropriately unsettling Hector. If you’re in the mood for a bit of early 80s sci-fi cheese, Saturn 3 might satisfy that craving.

Credit: deadenddriveinSomething Is Wrong On Saturn 3

“Out of Love of Characters”

This weekend, I’ll be attending the Flashback Weekend Horror Convention in Rosemont, Illinois. There’s a lot to look forward to, including screenings of the 1988 slasher classic Child’s Play and the 1985 vampire mystery Fright Night and appearances from horror luminaries such as Child’s Play star Brad Dourif, director Tom Holland and Chicago’s own Svengoolie, but the event that I’m anticipating the most is the 13th Annual Sinister Visions Costume Contest. Hosted by Svengoolie, this contest is a great showcase of the creativity and the passion that defines the hobby of cosplaying. In all my years as a con-goer, I’ve dabbled in costuming myself from time to time and experienced how inclusive and encouraging the cosplaying community can be. If you want to learn more about what inspires cosplayers or if you want to pursue the hobby yourself, consider this 2014 documentary, directed by Shelley Yu, a informative primer on the diverse costuming community.

Credit: Infinity Sky Productions

Hail to the King, Baby!

Today marks the birthday of one of my all-time favorite filmmakers, Sam Raimi, whose playfully dynamic style shines through no matter what project he works on. Let’s take a look back at his humble origins with Raimi’s trippy 1978 short film Clockwork.