From time to time i just take a short leave and fly to the planet of the apes. In my mind, i mean. Got the movies, the books, the music,... the Works. Plus, now we have the internet that makes everything much easier. Anyway, today I was going to tell you things about "Beneath", a trip to Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Ted Post, 1970).Is typical to say my favorite is the first and so, and in this account "Beneath" usually gets a low rating. Not in my book.Let's point out that Beneath The Planet of the Apes is the second of five movies and it picks up where Planet of the Apes ends (and even before).
Zira, Nova and Cornelius
In those days there were not sequels that use to continue the storyline of the first films. In those days (excepting "2001: A space Odissey", but that was Kubrick) the science fiction movies were not "intelligent films" so this couple started a trend that would go on during the seventies until the first star wars movie came out in 1977.A nihilistic movie,"Beneath" has the cojones of giving us the mother of all the unhappy endings. I remember falling for days in some kind of depression after I saw this film (I was like 12 or 13 at then, on peruvian TV for the first time in my life) and I could almost understand and agree with the Heston character for doing what he did after what happent to his dear Nova. I remember as well, and very, that a new dimention of musical terror was born in my mind with the off key chorus of gospell mutants.
As in the first movie the creationism versus evolution subtext of this entry in the series was quite daring , and seeing upside down crucified apes burn and been crushed by a bleeding giant statue of their religious patriarch in the middle of the desert or witnessing a mass attended by nuclear bomb worshiper skinless mutants beneath the ruins of New York didn't exactly add points in favor of the "creationist team".
Greetings from New York 3955 A.D. !
The thing is that it doesn't says that evolution is better either. It's just a fact and at the end we can't handle it . It is a tough merciless flick with no room for redemption or a crowd pleasing happy ending. Apes, humans and mutants (they are "technically" humans gone wrong, but you know what i mean) they all have his share in writting the ultimate destiny for the planet.
Only the beautiful Nova is out of guilt or responsability.
Take your stinky paws of her your double face uncredited mutant!
Now, something about the cast. Heston agreed to do the sequel with the condition that he should be killed cos didn't wanna hear more about it (at the end they agreed that he would be at the begining and the end).
Franciscus and Miss Harrison. Not in Kansas anymore...
James Franciscus (they couldn't get Burt Reynolds, in the first hand) kind of take over like a mini Heston (which is not as bad as it sounds). Linda Harrison as Nova is back (anyway she was the girlfriend of 20Th Century Fox mogul Zanuck). Natalie Trundy, as the mutant Albina (was the wife of producer Arthur P. Jacobs. Anyway). The great character actor James Gregory (they couldn't get Orson ) plays the militar gorilla Ursus.
As Cornelious is not Roddy McDowall (busy making his own movie in Scotland) but some David Watson. Maurice Evans and Kim Hunter are back as Dr. Zaius and Zira. Then we have the teve actor Don Pedro Colley playing a mutant credited simply as "Negro".
Of course you have to see the first movie to get this one. "Beneath" was made for half the budget of POTA (they didn't have to make or build so much stuff cos they had it from the first movie) so, unless you don't pay attention to the cheapy pull out masks that the extras show too often it looks quite cool (they re-use some sets from "Hello, Dolly!" and even the crashed spaceship is part of the "Jupiter I" from the Lost in Space series).
These Planet of the Apes movies are very special for me. Kind of my favorite film saga. Full of adventure, scientific fiction (just love time travel speculations), apes, philosophical debates, misanthropic outsiders, Linda Harrison, and chocking moments one after another. People who likes these movies can talk and talk forever about it and there will be never enough theories that will come up because there are so many layers to peel. A great pub topic! The kind of movie that I know I will always will see again.
The drawings that you see here are taked from the still forthcoming book, From Aldo to Zira: Lexicon of The Planet of the Apes by Hasslein Books (hopefully coming out at the end of 2010).