The Phantom Planet is a 1961 science fiction film directed by William Marshall and starring Dean Fredericks, Coleen Gray (The Leech Woman; The Vampire), Tony Dexter, Francis X. Bushman, Dolores Faith and includes an early role by Richard Kiel (‘Jaws’ in two James Bond movies).
American International Pictures (AIP) released the film as a double feature with Assignment Outer Space.
In the future world of 1980, the United States Air Force’s Space Exploration Wing has bases on the moon and is on the eve of a mission to Mars. When one of their Pegasus spacecraft with two crew members aboard mysteriously disappears, pilot Captain Frank Chapman and his navigator Lt. Ray Makonnen are sent to search for them in their own craft.
During their search, their ship receives minor damage from a meteor shower that both men go outside to repair. However, a small bullet sized particle pierces Chapman’s suit that sends him into unconsciousness. Makonnen is able to repair Chapman’s suit but as he opens the door to push Chapman inside he is fatally struck by a similar particle.
Makonnen’s last act before he is propelled into deep space is to close the door with Chapman safely inside the ship. Chapman awakes to find Makonnen gone and unable to communicate with the lunar base. He leaves a diary message of the preceding events concluding that he is going to land on an asteroid.
Exiting his ship, he passes out and sees small humans about six inches in size approaching him. Once the visor of his helmet is opened, Chapman is able to breathe but due to the planet’s unusual atmosphere, he is also shrunk to six inches in size. He is placed on trial for attacking Herron, one of the small people.
Sesom, the leader of Rheton, the name of the planetoid that Chapman has landed on, explains that though he will have all the rights of an inhabitant of Rheton, he can never leave and his ship has been sent back into space whilst he slept.
Chapman meets two beautiful women Liara and the mute Zetha who welcome him and answer his many questions. The stranded astronaut decides to help the inhabitants of the planet battle an invading race of monsters known as the Solarites who come from a planet orbiting the sun.
” … the tragic Solarite creature costume is right up my alley (it resembles something that might have turned up in a third-season episode of The Outer Limits), and I got a kick out of the bizarre notion of the space monsters zipping around the solar system in hollowed-out meteors fitted with heat rays and rocket engines. There’s just enough good stuff here to make The Phantom Planet merely mostly a waste of time.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting
“It might help to endure the movie if you turn it into a drinking game, and count the number of science fiction cliches: The alien planet populated by creatures who look just like us; Meteor storms turning up out of the black just when the astronauts venture outside their spaceship; The tractor beam; The love triangle; Attacked by aggressive aliens; The alien monster fixated on the pretty young lady despite being a completely different species…” HorrorNews.net
“Despite its silly plot, this remains an entertaining minor movie, if only for its intriguing cast and Marshall’s energetic direction.” The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Science Fiction