Plot: What’s it about?
When a new planet surfaces, you know the government is going to stick their fingers in the cookie jar, right? Well that is just what happens here, as a team of space explorers is sent to gather information on a mysterious new world. So the space troopers venture close enough to sneak a peek, but then crash land and that is when the real fun kicks in. As soon as the astronauts gather their senses, they find themselves shrunk to around six inches tall and held captive by a race of really short people. These little people have big problems though, as they are under attack by a bunch of mean aliens. Back on the home world, a rescue mission is slapped together and sent to the strange place, in order to bring back the kids and figure out what happened to them. But when the rescue team is plunged into the dangerous conflict, will anyone survive the onslaught?
When it comes to low budget science-fiction flicks from the 1950s and ’60s, you either love them or you sleep through them. Some folks have a taste for them and relish in the conventions, while others scoff at the cheap special effects and minimalist productions. As frequent readers know, I happen to love the stuff, so I always look forward to the new releases from the Wade Williams Collection, via Image Entertainment. I haven’t always heard of the films, but I’m always ready for new ones, as well as ones I know and love. I’d seen parts of The Phantom Planet before, but never the entire picture, so I gave this one a spin right off. I love the premise used in the film and in the end, I was very taken with this movie. The special effects weren’t groundbreaking, but they are cool and fun to look at, which is more than enough in films like this one. As usual, the acting is average at best and the writing is basic, but if you’re a veteran of movies in this ilk, you know what to expect. In other words, this movie won’t win new fans to ’60s cheese science-fiction, but it will make a solid addition to any fan’s collection.
Whenever Richard Kiel is mentioned among the more well known cast members, you know the film has little in terms of name value. But since these films don’t require big name stars, no real problems surface and overall, this cast is decent enough for a movie of this nature. As I mentioned, Richard Kiel is present here and as per usual, his performance is nothing to shout about. Kiel was terrific as James Bond’s foe, but in most other projects, he seems to be in over his head. Thankfully, he is not asked to do any real acting here, so he works well enough. Kiel also appears in films such as Eegah!, Moonraker, Happy Gilmore, The Longest Yard, Silver Streak, and The Spy Who Loved Me. The cast also includes Dolores Faith (Mutiny In Outer Space, The Human Duplicators), Dean Fredericks (Them!, The Final Hour), Francis X. Bushman (The Ghost In The Invisible Bikini, Apache Country), Coleen Gray (The Black Whip, The Leech Woman), and Tony Dexter (Fire Maidens of Outer Space, Captain Kidd and The Slave Girl).
Video: How does it look?
The Phantom Planet is presented in a full frame transfer, which preserves the film’s intended aspect ratio. I was very pleased here, as the source print seems very clean and the image is pretty sharp on the whole. Some imperfection are evident in the source materials, but this looks much cleaner than you’d expect from a low budget ’60s film of this kind. The black & white visuals look very good, no signs of imbalanced black levels or detail loss, as far as I could tell. Some grain and edge enhancement is to be seen, but no real problems surface here, fine work indeed.
Audio: How does it sound?
The basic mono is found here, which supplies a clean and adequate listen. I know we’re spoiled by surround sound nowadays, but when done right, the original tracks can sound good. I heard no harshness here at all, which means vocals are crisp and the cheese laden sound effects are in fine form also. The music sounds good too, though not as immersive as we’ve come to expect, but still good as far as mono is concerned. As this track shows, well done mono tracks can still get the task done.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc contains no bonus materials.