release date: 26 May 1970
run time: 95 mins
considered: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
director: Ted Post
starring: James Franciscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison, Paul Richards, Victor Buono, James Gregory, Jeff Corey, Natalie Trundy, Thomas Gomez, David Watson, Don Pedro Colley, Tod Andrews, Gregory Sierra, Eldon Burke
movie summary: Somewhere in the near future Earth will be ruled by apes. A group of astronauts will ship off into space in hopes of discovering new life only to crash-land back on their home planet many years in the future. Led by their fearless leader Taylor (Charlton Heston), the humans will try their best to escape the grasp of the ape rulers, only to fail miserably. Thanks to the help of Cornelius (David Watson) and Zira (Kim Hunter), Taylor is able to escape and discover the Statue of Liberty buried along the ocean shoreline. Determined to find more humans Taylor will travel across the lands on horse back with his girlfriend Nova (Linda Harrison). While crossing the desert one day a wall of fire shots up out of the ground and Taylor wants to find out where the flames are coming from. Nova watches Taylor walk towards the fire and disappear to thin air.
Meanwhile on the other side of the desert, near Ape City, another United States space ship crash lands. An astronaut named Brent (James Franciscus) survives the crash and begins to explore the lands looking for signs of life. While searching on foot Brent runs into Nova who is riding all alone on horseback. She has Taylor’s dog tags which leads Brent to believe he’s still alive. He demands Nova take him to Ape City so he can find out more about the apes and where Taylor is.
The great ape General Ursus (James Gregory) has had enough of humans and believes that more will come unless the apes attack the forbidden zone and put an end to all humans once and for all. One of the leaders, Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans), has explored the forbidden zone and recently was held hostage there by Taylor, Cornelius, and Zira. He advises against such a strike but his pleas fall on deaf eyes. Brent and Nova stumble across this meeting only to get spotted and wounded. They are treated for their wounds by Zira and provided the means to escape, except they are captured by the gorilla army. Zira is forced to risk her life again by rescuing Brent and Nova and hiding them in a cave.
Their hiding spot turns out to be a secret passage into the Queensboro Plaza subway station that was once located in New York City. Brent is amazed at this discovery and pulls Nova down the dark tunnels deeper into the earth to look for answers. Minutes after walking through the tunnels, the pair are captured by a group of mutated humans who live deep in the earth with a megaton nuclear bomb. Over the centuries since earth were destroyed, these mask wearing humans have developed telepathic abilities that force Brent into murdering Nova and fighting a captured Taylor who has been living in jail for weeks. Brent is forced to reveal everything he knows about the apes and the fact they are marching to the forbidden zone as they speak.
On their journey through the forbidden zone, the apes encounter the same flames Taylor did. This time though the flames are higher and all over the place. The humans underground are enhancing their powers as an attempt to scare away the apes, but Dr. Zaius sees through these tricks and advises the apes to not be afraid and to march on. The apes continue their trek through the desert and find the cave that leads to subway tunnel. The humans, along with Taylor and Brent, prepare for an all out war with the apes by arming the nuclear war head. The astronauts now have to try their best to convince the angry apes and the mutated humans not to break out in this war before the wrong thing happens and earth as we know it would no longer exist.
my thoughts: In 2014 Hollywood gave us Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, my new favourite movie of all-time. As I’ve mentioned before I loved Rise of the Planet of the Apes and own the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes movie from 2001. Armed with a new obsession in all things Planet of the Apes, I finally felt the urge to sit down and watch the original five movies. I got sidetracked with life over the last month or so and didn’t post these Ape movie reviews on consecutive throwback Thursdays like my original plan. Now that I’ve been able to settle into a new work schedule and movie going schedule, I plan to bring you the rest of my reviews of the original movies.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes is by far one of the worst movies I have ever watched in my life. As a warning, be prepared for my review of the fifth movie of this series because it only gets worse. The story was pretty solid for the first half of the movie but when Brent finds the tunnel and the mutated humans, the story runs right off the tracks and a cliff. It made a lot of sense to have another stranded astronaut crash-land on a mysterious planet and look for the other astronauts from the previous movie, but I’d love to know who in the room stood up and said “Hey, to make things interesting, let’s throw in a nuclear bomb into the story and mutated humans who worship it.” Of course the other writers must have thought it was a brilliant idea because it made the final script. It was tough to watch as these humans, who wore masks to hide their scars, use special powers to manipulate humans into killing each other just for their pleasure. These sick individuals spend their free time holding a church style worship of a nuclear weapon that they don’t fully understand. I don’t know about you, but Charlton Heston didn’t want to be part of this movie and asked to be killed off, I can see why after watching this movie.
The whole nuclear bomb angle gives credit to the story of how the humans lost control of their world and how the apes came to power, but is totally mishandled. It’s obvious the forbidden zone is located near New York City because the Statue of Liberty is featured in the first film while the Queensboro subway tunnel is featured in this one. The apes seem to have knowledge of this and refuse to acknowledge the existence of humans before them. This movie may be called Beneath the Planet of the Apes but apes are actually in it for about half of the movie. This one focuses more on the human side of the story then they hairy enemies. I tried to express my displeasure with this ratio and was reminded it is called “Beneath” for a reason, that it’s not about the apes but things that happen around them. Still I have a valid argument much like the people who watched The Dark Knight Rises and were upset that Batman was in a three-hour movie for about 35 minutes. It’s hard to believe Hollywood continued on with the franchise after this bombed at the box office and with critics, but the next movie just allowed them to make up for all their mistakes in this film.
my final thoughts: If you love the Planet of the Apes movies then you will sit through this one for a marathon. Anyone else out there who doesn’t like these type of movies already know to stay away. For those of you left over who were curious like I was, I will warn this is a really horrible movie that is not worth 95 mins of your life.
my star rating: 1 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 41% out 100%