I’m a huge fan of the 1968 movie Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, and Roddy McDowell. Unfortunately, my local branch of the public library doesn’t have the film available in DVD, so I’d have to request it from a different branch. It does have three copies of the 1970 sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes starring James Franciscus and Kim Hunter. It’s a horrible movie.
Okay, good things first. James Franciscus is heroic as hell. He’s a great looking guy, especially with his shirt off. Interesting side note. In the film’s beginning, his character Brent is seen nursing his skipper (no name given but played by Tod Andrews) outside their crashed spaceship. The skipper dies subsequently after having been blinded in the accident. The following year, Franciscus starred in a television show called Longstreet. The title character is a blind insurance investigator in New Orleans. No, I’m not kidding.
A number of actors reprise their roles from the previous film including the aforementioned Kim Hunter as Zira. Linda Harrison comes back as Nova, but Roddy McDowell had a scheduling conflict, so David Watson played Cornelius. Heston came back as Taylor, but in a limited appearance, and he made the condition that he’d return only if his character died in the movie.
His character wasn’t the only thing that died. The concept was bad and poorly executed. The budget was severely slashed so that extras playing apes were in totally unconvincing masks.
The movie shouldn’t have been made, but in spite of the fact that the studio low balled the budget and chose a terrible story, it was.
I’ve been avoiding this film for decades and for good reason as it turns out. There’s actually some fine talent here, such as Paul Richards, Victor Buono, James Gregory, and Natalie Trundy, but in my opinion, they were all wasted.
At the end of the film, Taylor sets off a doomsday bomb in the ruins of New York City that supposedly destroyed the world. Heston hated sequels and felt that the movie’s ending would stop them. Alas, it did not.
Oh, and I hope they paid Harrison very well because all she did was play the victim, finally speak one word (“Taylor”), and then pointlessly die.
4 thoughts on “Film Review of “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970)”
Yes it was a bit of a flop. A disappointing entry to the cannon, but at least it got the ball rolling for sequels. Escape From The Planet Of The Apes is in my opinion a tremendously well made sequel and one of the best films ever made. It is this third film that immediately gave the cannon its newfound momentum of glory.
I remember seeing all of the sequels when they were originally in the theaters back in the day, but haven’t seen any of them since. At some point, I’m sure to sample “Escape” as I remember liking it.
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If you get the box set collection it will include all the originals, also the three moderns, Rise, Dawn, War and even a Tim Burton alternative plot version of the classic.
Thanks for the tip.