This one reminds me of rainy Sundays watching sci-fi movies with my dad. It is only fitting that I watched this on a day where I had the apartment to myself and was able to settle in on the couch and take some time off from my adult duties. Lately, I seem to have lost the ability to appreciate older b-movies and it is refreshing to know that when the mood is right, I can still throw on a movie like this and enjoy the simplicity of the story and be entertained by low-budget effects, cheesy dialogue, and a good old-fashioned alien monster.
Dean Fredericks stars as Frank Chapman, an astronaut who is assigned to investigate a series of incidents where ships have gone missing around an unidentified planet. While enroute to the planet, Frank and his co-pilot run into technical difficulties during a meteor shower. The co-pilot is killed when he is struck by some meteor dust while fixing the ship, which causes him to float away into space. Frank is left on his own and the ship is drawn to the mysterious planet where it lands and Frank is shrunken to the size of a Lilliputian. It does not take long for him to meet the other mini-humans from the planet where it is explained to him that they have been reduced in size to be proportionate to the planet and he will grow back if he were ever to return to Earth. Other than being an odd plot point to make this movie unique, there was no reason for the size reduction as there were no altercations with giant animals or even giant objects. The weirdness of this type of writing is what makes some of these movies stand out.
As with most movies from the golden age of sci-fi, there has to be a love interest and Frank is given a choice between two women whom he can apparently choose from to be his future wife. One is a pushy blonde (Coleen Gray, The Leech Woman) and the other is a very beautiful brunette (Dolores Faith) who happens to be mute. Both spend the movie vying for his attention while Frank's only concern is to get off the planet. Over time, the blonde's affection towards Frank leads to jealously on the part of a guy named Herron (Tony Dexter) who challenges Frank to a duel that consists of a fight to the death as they try to push each other onto a plate on the ground that will vaporize the loser. Believe me, this sounds way more exciting than it is. Eventually, everyone must band together when the planet is threatened by some bad aliens who attack using spaceships that look like flaming pieces of popcorn. The grand finale finally comes when Frank must battle one of the aliens to save the woman he loves (I'm not going to tell you who).
This is cheesy fun - pure and simple. The movie paces itself nicely and does not get lost in endless stretches of boredom that can ruin this type of flick. The actors play their parts well and it made me think it would have been fun to have worked in Hollywood at a time when movies like this were being cranked out. That is, unless you wanted to make more money than to simply pay the bills. Bond fans should take note that the alien that Frank battles is played by none other than Richard Kiel who you will know as Jaws in Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me. This recognizable actor has been in many other movies as well including Pale Rider and Happy Gilmore. It's too bad we can't see his face but his size is unmistakable. (Josh Pasnak, 10/25/09)
Directed By: William Marshall.
Written By: William Telaak, Fred De Gorter, Fred Gebhardt.
Starring: Dean Fredericks, Coleen Gray, Dolores Faith, Tony Dexter.