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Movies Kelly Parks

Review by
Kelly Parks

Beneath the Planet of the Apes
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BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES - 1970
20th Century Fox
RATINGS: Finland: K-16 / Germany: 12 / Sweden: 15 / UK: PG/ USA: G

Does anybody out there have Check Heston's home phone number? Anybody? No? Too bad, because I'm pissed and I want him to know why.

PLANET OF THE APES, despite a lot of science mistakes and some plot loopholes you could drive career through, was a cool movie. And one of the cool things about it was it made you wonder what happened next. At the end of PLANET OF THE APES, when Charleton Heston (SOYLENT GREEN, THE OMEGA MAN, PLANET OF THE APES [2001]) as crashed astronaut Colonel George Taylor rode off on horseback, accompanied by the lovely but mute Nova (Linda Harrison), you couldn't help but wonder what happened next? Personally, I wanted more details about this world. Ape City can't be the only ape community. Are there nations? Where are their factories, since they clearly have a roughly 19th century level of technology?

BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES, directed by Ted Post (NIGHTKILL, [TV] Boris Karloff's THRILLER) and written by Paul Dehn (ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES, CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) and Mort Abrahams (his only writing credit), should have done this. But it didn't happen because Heston didn't want to play anymore. He wanted out of the whole PLANET OF THE APES storyline, so he insisted on only a cameo appearance and he insisted that his character be killed off.

The result is a movie that wastes a lot of time. A second spacecraft from 20th century Earth crashes in the Forbidden Zone, carrying astronaut Brent (James Franciscus: IL GATTO A NOVE CODE, KILLER FISH, L ULTIMO SQUALO [SHARK], NIGHTKILL). Someone should sue the contractor because these spaceships can travel at nearly the speed of light but they can't land worth a damn. And why are they apparently homing in on the former location of New York City? This can't be a rescue mission, because the people who launched Taylor's original mission had to know that they'd never hear from him or his crew on their millenia long voyage (which makes you wonder why Brent tries to "raise Earth" on the radio when he thinks he's light years away and knows he's 2000 years in the future).

TRIVIA
Director Ted Post went on to direct the truly wacked out cult classic, THE BABY, Dirty Harry: MAGNUM FORCE, the Chuck Norris mega-hit, GOOD GUYS WEAR BLACK, and NIGHT KILL.

Look for a very young John Landis (Director of AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, INNOCENT BLOOD, DEER WOMAN) as Jake's friend.

Writer Paul Dehn was far more adept and successful at writing action packed spy movies including:
ORDERS TO KILL,
IAN FLEMMING'S GOLDFINGER,
THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD,
THE DEADLY AFFAIR,
THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS,
FRAGMENT OF FEAR,
and
MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. That said, he went on to pen all of the PLANET OF THE APES sequels.

RESOURCES
See the Official 20th Century Fox
PLANET OF THE APES
site

Go to the
LINDA HARRISON
Official Website site.

THE FORBIDDEN ZONE

IMDb

IMPAwards

In an eye-rolling coincidence, Nova happens to ride by the very spot where Brent has crashed (The Earth is a big place. You do the math). She was with Taylor, but he disappeared after strange visions of walls of fire and earthquakes appeared before them.

Now comes the time wasting part. Brent has to find out that humans are mute, that apes can talk and rule the world, meet Zira (Kim Hunter: THE BLACK CAT, TWO EVIL EYES, THE KINDRED) and Cornelius (David Watson), and generally run through a mini-version of the first movie, just so he's up to speed. This is so obvious and so rushed that it's just annoying. And this is why I'm pissed at Heston. If he'd stayed as the central character, this movie could have cut out a huge chunk of exposition (and cut out Brent) and gotten to the story much quicker. I'm positive it would have been a vastly better film.

By another fortuitous coincidence, Brent arrives at Ape City just in time to hear General Ursus (James Gregory: THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE) giving a speech to his fellow Gorilla soldiers calling for an invasion of the Forbidden Zone, on the theory that since humans sometimes come from there, there must be a green, fertile region beyond the desert. During this rabble rousing tirade, he makes the odd comment:
"I don't say all humans are evil simply because their skin is white."
Huh? Humans are a different species - why would he care or notice their skin color? In the first movie one of Taylor's fellow astronauts (Jeff Burton) was black and he ended up stuffed in a museum. By the way, doesn't Ursus mean bear?

Anyway, the Gorilla military, lead by General Ursus, appears to be taking control from the Orangutan administrators, lead by Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans: ROSEMARY'S BABY, TERROR IN THE WAX MUSEUM). After an ape to ape discussion in the steam bath (apes can't sweat!) Zaius agrees to the General's plan to break religious taboo and send the army into the Forbidden Zone. Brent and Nova seek refuge there as well, and that's when we meet the mutants and, finally, Taylor.

And now let's meet a

!!!SCIENCE MOMENT!!!:
I must talk about The Bomb. This weapon, worshipped by the mutant humans of the future, is briefly described as a cobalt bomb. Brent and Taylor take it for granted that this bomb can destroy the world but can that be true? Well, sort of. It depends on your definition of "destroy." You see adding cobalt to an H-bomb does not make the explosion bigger - it makes the fallout worse; worse in the sense of staying radioactive and deadly for many years instead of just a few months like a regular nuke. For a good story about a cobalt weapon war worst-case scenario, see ON THE BEACH.

Continued at SCIENCE MOMENT/Beneath The Planet Of The Apes

The whole movie has a slapped together feel to it, and the bizarre ending is often complained about by fans of the series, but I thought it was fitting. It keeps with the doomed nature of humanity theme common in Sci-Fi of the time.

There are a few good scenes but after all is said and done, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES only gets 2 shriek girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 1999 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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