Phantom Planet

THE PHANTOM PLANET. 1961

Director: William Marshall

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Phantom Planet Sooner than we think, in the future of 1980, humanity will take space travel for granted, & we'll have the cutest miniature moonbase with spiffy rocketships that look just like we imagined they would look decades before.

Astronauts encounter a misshapen planetoid with an appearance halfway between a carpolite & a Kentucky Fried Chicken breast. Their rocket begins to fall into the weird planet's unnatural gravity field, & is destroyed.

When the next ship is sent to investigate, what is discovered is a little planet of six-inch tall people. When the Earth astronaut breathes the atmosphere, he becomes six inches tall too, with quite an endearing little scene of him crawling buck naked inside his unshrunken space suit.

The wee people trump up some legal charges against the astronaut, find him guilty in their kangaroo court, & sentence him to living with them forever. They don't want anyone who finds out about their little planet to leave & reveal that they exist. He's not kean on their legal system & will continue to do whatever it takes to return home.

The wee folk have a gravity-based technology. Their culture consists mainly of walking about in caverns as their tiny planet wanders the cosmos, trying to keep ahead of their arch enemies the Solarites. They've even captured a Solarite, who is a monster warrior (Richard "Lurch" Kiel in a rubber monster suit).

There are pretty girls among the Raytarians for an astronaut to chat up. One of 'em is even mute, so he starts telling her how pretty she is right away, though being a fickle sort he also woos a woman who can talk.

A jealous suitor challenges the astronaut to a duel to the death. They try to push one another onto super-gravity disintegration plates. Our hero being Aryan wins, but spares the jealous boyfriend's life. So the beta male will now help him escape from pigmy planet, hoping the girl he loves will come to her senses when the earthling is gone.

But before he can make good his escape, the Solarites attack in fiery meteor-like ships with weapons that make loud noises in space. For a couple suspenseless seconds it looks like the end for the wee folk.

Breathing bottled earth-oxygen restores our downsized hero to his normal manly height & he returns to space happily ever after.

It's a goofy old film with dreadful acting, though now & then it is almost dramatic, especially an early sequence when an astronaut murmuring biblical verses sacrifices his life so that his co-pilot might live. It's never again as heavy as that moment, however, & is in the main harmless fun, suspenseful for children & amusing for adults.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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