Beneath The Planet Of The Apes Cover Monkeys are lovely creatures, aren’t they? They are warming to look at. They are a pleasure to play with. And they are very proficient at shooting guns too. What!?! Please don’t tell me that you didn't know that apes were adept with an AK47! True. Just watch this sequel Directed by Ted Post; and Starring: James Franciscus, Kim Hunter, and Charlton Heston. It was made in 1970, and lasts for 90 minutes.

Beneath The Planet Of The Apes

Very serious-looking astronaut, Brent (James Franciscus), crash lands on a desolate planet, and goes in search for his old comrade, Taylor (Charlton Heston).

But guess what he finds find instead? Go on. You'd never guess! No. Not Marky-Mark. By chance, Brett bumps into Taylor's busty female companion, Nova (Linda Harrison), who can not explain to him that Tayor is lost in the 'Forbidden Zone', because she is mute. Plus guess what else she can not explain to him? Go on. It's something they stumble across. What? You don't know? OK. It's a city of Apes. And another one of Taylor's old female friends, Zira (Kim Hunter), whose a talking humanoid chimpanzee.


Well, as you can most probably imagine, Brent is just aghast by these strange turn of events. Moreover, he is deterred when he overhears a plan that the apes are going to attack the Forbidden Zone also. Correct. I said 'The Forbidden Zone'. The location Nova can not utter because she has big tiii... err.. a talking problem. And a location that Zita and her husband, Cornelius (David Watson), directs Brett to, just so he can search for Taylor.

Now it is a good job that Brett and Nova meet Zita and Cornelius you know. Because not only do they help them out with this bit of information, but they also help them out with a spot of bother they have when they run into the 'warring apes' sometime later. Thankfully, this leads them both to escape from this predicament, and then make their way to the Forbidden Zone -- with the ape army in hot pursuit.

Please note though, for them to hide their presence at this lo-cal, both Brent and Nova seek shelter in a cave, away from prying eyes. And it is here -- within a cave in the Forbidden Zone -- that Brent comes to the realization two things. Firstly, he is not on another planet, he’s on Earth in the future. Plus secondly, that the inhabitants of this subterranean swelling are human.

OK, I have to admit, not your normal run of the mill looking humans. Oh no! They are dressed in condoms. They worship a nuclear bomb. Plus on top of that, they interrogate and corrupt Brent with their telepathic powers, just so they can discover, what he knows, who he knows, and more importantly, any information he can give them on the ape's plans for conquering their kingdom.

Ouch! Still, I suppose that is why what next transpires is a right free for all I can tell you. As apes attack – Taylor is whack – humans lie – apes die – and the world will never be the same again, BOOOOOOOOM!

If I may, I would like to spew a bit of trivia about 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes' first, before I get to my review. You see, due to the fact that this film's successor, 'Planet of the Apes', did so well at the box-office, 20th Century Fox wanted to make a sequel just to expand upon the franchise. However, there were a couple of drawbacks with this production, and a couple of provisos made as well. Firstly, Charlton Heston was not interested in making a sequel -- and he only agreed to take any part in this film if his presence was fleeting. Secondly, Fox was going through a bit of a financial crisis at the time -- which would explain why some of the creature make-ups were not up to par. And thirdly, the script has to be drastically altered -- mainly because of the preceding two points mentioned.

James and Girl in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes

Monkey Boy in Beneath The Planet Of The Apes
Moreover, there are also some additional filmic facts that need to be considered also. (1) This was the only film out of the five original films that Roddy McDowall did not star in. He was committed to another theatrical project at the time. (2) This picture went through a lot of drastic script changes in post-production. The first draft of this script, called 'Planet of the Men', was meant to be set fourteen years after the events of the first movie, where Taylor led an uprising against the apes. Also, there was going to be a scene where there was going to be a half-human / half-ape child. (3) The casting for this project was a haphazardness affair all in all. Orson Welles passed up an offer to play General Ursus because he did not like the creature make-up. Actor, Burt Reynolds, was passed over for the leading role, because produces thought that James Franciscus looked more like Charlton Heston. And director, Don Medford, walked out of this project when he heard that the budget was cut in half. (4) Natalie Trundy was the only person in this series of films to play both 'ape' and 'human'. (5) This was Thomas Gomez's final appearance and Gregory Sierra's first. (6) According to its comic book counterpart, plus over noted sources also, Brent's first name is John. Although the dying astronaut's call him 'Skipper'. (7) Some of the sets in this film were reused sets from other films. Such as 'Hello Dolly' and the original movie. (8) There was an alternate ending where Taylor, Brent, and Nova, escaped prior to the detonation of the bomb [which was not originally a doomsday device] and returned to Ape City. Then, along with Zira and Cornelius, they released all the humans from their cages, and a new world order has begun. The film finally ended with a parable of human / ape co-existence set a hundred years in the future. And (9) It was Charlton Heston's idea to blow up the world, because he wanted to make sure that no other sequels would be made. Oppps!

Sexy Linda Harrison

Now I have no choice but to consider all of this information before I can review this film, don’t I? As  on some level I suppose it does explain why it turned out in the way it did. With a less than classy sheen exhumed than its predecessor.

Listen, I do not really want to abase this film in any way shape or form. I kind of like it in a perverse way. It is less grandiose. It is less meaningful. And it will always be outshone by its first installment. Nonetheless, it is still a fairly good film, considering all of the obstacles that it had to overcome.

OK, so some of the monkeys looked like men in masks. And James Franciscus did come across as Charlton Heston light. Nonetheless, the adventure aspect of this film were all intact -- and it did tell an almost benign story amidst a searcher type pretext.

Mutants in Beneath the Planet of the Apes

In someway, ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’ reminds me of a young child that wants to do well in school. All the actors -- especially James Franciscus -- really try their best to make things work, despite the script re-writes, and the lower production values. It is just a shame that the people with the cash did not elevate this sequel to a higher level. Otherwise, I could have easily seen this film franchise turn out to be like the initial 'Star Wars' trilogy, and become something truly special. Instead, they made there statement with the conclusion of this film, BOOOM!

Granted, we all know that it did not end there, huh? But that isn't what they thought at the time, is it? If only. If only. If only. Ha!

Still, overall, this is a really good b-list movie. Plus is well worth a watch if you like monkeys, rustic dramas, a searcher’s type parable, or are a fan of sci-fi or the original works.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes Poster

A much-abused classic.


BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970) BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970) Reviewed by David Andrews on July 17, 2012 Rating: 5
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