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Rated G (Doomsday bomb - appropriate for all ages.)
Copyright 1970 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 10 March 2007

The Characters:  

  • Brent - A smaller, less expensive version of Charlton Heston. Shot many, many times.
  • Taylor - Charlton Heston! Mortally wounded by gorillas with automatic rifles while he, himself, is unarmed. The horror!
  • Nova - Just how many dumb brunette jokes are there? She is also shot.
  • Zira and Cornelius - The friendly chimpanzees must have been killed when the doomsday bomb went off, unless they found a way to escape from the planet...
  • Dr. Zaius - Why have I always thought that the orangutans should talk with Irish accents? Vaporized by the doomsday bomb.
  • General Ursus - We shall fight in the fields, we shall fight in the hills, we shall fight in the desert. We shall... (At this point he degenerates into chest-thumping, pulling up grass, and bellowing. The rest of the planned speech is anyone's guess.)
  • The Mutant Bomb Worshipers - Like the Lutherans, but they pray to a nuclear missile and do not publish cookbooks. They wear masks to cover their radiation-deformed features, which is something I do not think Lutherans are known for. Could they be Methodists?

Buy It!

The Plot: 

"Beneath the Planet of the Apes" begins with a fairly comprehensive recap of the first movie's final minutes, just in case the viewer had not seen the original. Once Taylor falls to his knees and screams his frustration at being stuck on the East Coast (Explains why Nova is not a blonde, doesn't it?) we are finally treated to new material. Some of this is amusing, like Taylor thinking aloud that at least he and Nova's children will be able to speak. Anyway, during their slow trek into the Forbidden Zone, they encounter bizarre visions. Flames, earthquakes, and rock walls seem to spring out of thin air. The confused astronaut climbs off of his horse and falls through an apparently solid cliff face while testing to see if it is real. Nova watches in horror. It could be argued that Nova always appears to be alarmed or otherwise distressed.

Do you wonder if Taylor was worried that the capacity for speech is from the mother's side, like male pattern baldness? Yes, I know that it is more complex than that. Maybe all of the male children will have a higher chance of only grunting, vice saying things like, "Dadda" and "Momma." Just imagine Taylor, trapped on a planet of apes and trying to cope with his family. All of the girls will not stop talking, while the boys are mute.

While on the subject of torturing astronauts, we are next introduced to Brent and his wounded Captain. Their mission was to follow Taylor's path and, I think, rescue the crew of the first ship. Hold the phone - rescue them from what? Taylor's ship was a one-way trip, sending three men and a woman across interstellar space to colonize a new planet. After Taylor's ship accelerated away, did someone finally realize that there was only one woman aboard? Then, in their haste to send extra females via a follow-on mission, they completely forgot to load the supplemental girls before liftoff. I can see it now, as one ground crewman asks the other, "Hey, why didn't you load all the boxes?"

Once the injured Captain dies (Brent, you suck as a nurse), the lone survivor from the rescue mission encounters Nova. She is tickled, because shortly after losing her talking man, she finds another one. The astronaut is excited by the identification tags worn by the primitive woman, as they are Taylor's. He mounts the horse with her and they ride on to the ape city.

When Brent arrives on the outskirts of the city, General Ursus is addressing a large sitting of the populace in the community amphitheater. He is inciting them to invade the Forbidden Zone and reclaim it from whatever foul powers that call it home. The crowd is soon cheering, hooting, and beating the stone benches with small wooden clubs. Maybe the General's speech was merely a formality. I have to question the impartiality of anyone who comes to an event with a small wooden bat in hand (notice how I avoided making a crack about Pittsburgh fans).

The makeup and facial appliances for the primary ape characters are first rate. This is not true for any ape that is not the center of attention in a scene. Those secondary masks are awful, like something you would buy for Halloween and they are just as convincing. Obviously, the director would prefer you to be looking directly at anything besides those terrible masks and he usually did a good job of focusing the viewer's attention elsewhere.

Nova takes Brent to Zira and Cornelius' home, amazingly avoiding detection as they scurry past the adobe buildings of the ape settlement. The human sympathizers provide what information and assistance they are able, but can do little for this other wayward talking human. During their flight from the city, the humans are captured by a gorilla patrol. Thrown into a cage and carted back to the city, Brent gets a firsthand look at the ape war machine. Cannons are lined up, gorillas perform calisthenics (it looks as silly as it sounds), and human prisoners are utilized for combat practice. The future looks bleak for Brent, except that Zira unlocks the cage door. Taking Nova with him, he escapes. Talk about rotten luck, they are spotted by another patrol. The humans walked right up to the chimpanzees' front door without incident, but riding through miles of sparsely settled areas they cannot seem to help but trip over sentries.

Pursued by the gorilla soldiers, Brent scrambles into a cave with Nova in tow. There he finds a lava or speleothem-encrusted public telephone (the handset has been ripped from the cord, typical), subway tracks, multi-colored tiles on the walls, and a poster. It is the ancient poster that finally switches on the light in Brent's brain housing group, causing the lost astronaut to realize that he must have returned to Earth - a world he knew well before it was destroyed by nuclear war. Wow, took you long enough, buddy. I know you are an astronaut, vice a rocket scientist, but we were getting worried. The next step was to have a little midget dart out of a hidey-hole and run down the subway tracks screaming, "Welcome to New York!" over and over.

Parched by thirst, the rather dense protagonist does something that made me squirm. He notices water dripping from a stalactite and drinks some. What in the world are you doing? You said you lived in New York City! So what if it has been two thousand years since the fall of Man? What person in their right mind drinks water dripping from the ceiling of a subway station? All of the mineral deposits are darkly colored and I have serious reservations about what caused the phenomenon.

Exploring the empty subway tunnels with Nova, Brent discovers that many landmarks survived the nuclear war and are now underground. The two humans walk past the New York Public Library and, a short time later, stand in awe outside Radio City Music Hall. I have no idea which landmark was moved or how, though maybe the Music Hall was carried along by a huge lava flow. The geography is all very confusing; especially since I think they entered the subway via a Queens station stop. Chalk this up to a silly desire by the film makers to include some recognizable landmarks and continue reading.

Ursus begins to lead his army along the long road to conquest and encounters something not seen in two thousand years. He runs afoul of hippies. Granted, they are chimpanzee hippies, so differentiating them from other apes is difficult (same hair length and all), but they are carrying signs and protesting. Never one to allow ideals to interfere with his visions of glory, the gorilla general orders a detachment of troops to round up the protestors. Free thought is a dangerous thing, especially when most of your mind is focused on proving your dominance to possible rivals. The apes march on to their war with the unknown.

The unknown turns out to be the primate version of Hell, as the 7th Ape Corps encounters a wall of fire. Behind the wall, but still wreathed in flames, dozens of gorillas can be seen. They are crucified upside down, screaming as the fire licks at their fur. A giant bleeding statue of the Law Giver looms over the landscape. Okay, stop, who thought up this freaky scene? If I ever have a dream like this, I am seeking professional help. Dr. Zaius refuses to believe that the crazed spectacle could possibly be real. He spurs his horse into the flames and dispels the illusion.

Potentially off subject, but the giant statue of the Law Giver reminded me of Demogorgon from "Forbidden Forest." I wanted to dance after it crumbled to the ground. Ba - ba - ba-na-na-na...

The illusions were caused by the people who inhabit the subterranean spaces that Brent discovered. Far from mute beasts, this small enclave of humanity is made up of mutants with fearsome mental powers and some intellect. Unfortunately, they are suspicious of anyone from the outside. Brent is interrogated ruthlessly before being tossed into a cell with Taylor. The men are overjoyed to see each other, but the small victory of friendship is quickly lost. One of the mutants uses his powers to force the two men into a battle to the death. As an arena for the gladiators, the cell is frightfully appropriate. Long metal spikes protrude at the intersection of horizontal and vertical bars, meaning it is not the sort of place you want to have a friendly wrestling match. The deadly game becomes more dangerous when the controlling mutant tosses an evil-looking morningstar (it appears to be a spare part from the cage's construction) into the cell. It seems inevitable that the two men will beat each other to death, on this world which is theirs, but two millenia from home. Luckily, the mutant's attention is distracted by Nova's strangled scream and the two wayward astronauts turn the tables on him, iron maiden style.

A central aspect of the mutant society is the worship of a gleaming missile, proudly displayed inside their church. While working to escape the cell, Brent describes the weapon to Taylor. The older astronaut immediately recognizes it as a doomsday bomb. They finally pry the door open and race to stop the mutants from detonating the device. Before they can reach the church (heck, before they go more than a few steps) they encounter a gorilla soldier. The apes have invaded the mutant settlement and are shooting or enslaving everyone they can find. Faced with two armed males, the gorilla does the dumbest thing I have ever seen (and I have watched chimpanzees drink their own urine and mix food with feces). The gorilla shoots Nova as she tries to run away. Two armed males, one unarmed female. Shoot the girl! Stupid monkey. Taylor is overcome with grief by Nova's death and wonders if the world is worth saving. He finally lowers her body to the cold tile floor and follows Brent toward their date with destiny.

Now, will somebody please tell me how it came to pass that World War III took place and nobody used the doomsday bomb? What sort of sense does that make? Nuke civilization so utterly that humans become the equivalent of bipedal raccoons, while apes evolve and develop a skewed communist society. Look, if you are going to blow up the world, do it right. Launch all the nuclear missiles, just so you can say we used them, and then set off the doomsday bomb. Turn our green world into a barren globe of char and ash. That way, when an advanced star-faring civilization finally finds our tomb, their first thought will be, "Those poor, stupid bastards." and not, "Ha, monkeys!"

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • The Statue of Liberty is one of man's most durable monuments.
  • Chimpanzees understand the connection between democracy and spousal abuse.
  • Women are drawn to men who can communicate verbally.
  • Gorillas hate wicker.
  • Never volunteer to be a target for tactical whip practice.
  • NASA has a good reason for requiring astronauts to be expert horse riders.
  • After retiring from the Daily Planet, Clark Kent was hired by Lockheed Martin. His primary job was designing control panels for intercontinental ballistic missiles.
  • Laughing at telekinetic, bomb-worshipping zealots IS NOT a good idea.
  • There is a nuclear missile silo, inside of a church, on the island of Manhattan.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 15 mins - She barely understands the concept of names. What makes you think she has any clue now?
  • 23 mins - Apes in a sauna. Egad.
  • 26 mins - Even Nova thinks that he looks like a poor man's Charlton Heston.
  • 32 mins - You might want to bury your bright white clothing.
  • 43 mins - Are you telling me that poster survived for two thousand years?
  • 47 mins - Oh, symbolism.
  • 70 mins - Check it out, ape stigmata.
  • 74 mins - Oooo! Press the tall clear one! No, the other tall clear crystal!
  • 93 mins - Actually, I think the star was insignificant. The problem with the planet was that its inhabitants thought digital watches were a pretty neat idea.


  • Taylor: "Why don't we just settle down and found a colony, huh? All the kids will learn to talk. Sure they will."
  • Brent: "My God, it''s a city of apes!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note beneathapes1.wav Gen. Ursus: "I'll tell you one thing that every good soldier knows: the only thing that counts in the end is power - naked merciless force!"
Green Music Note beneathapes2.wav Dr. Zaius: "As Minister of Science, it is my duty to find out whether some other form of life exists."
Zira: "Where are you going?"
Dr. Zaius: "Into the Forbidden Zone, with Ursus."
Zira: "Another man hunt, doctor?" (She seems to channel a Dalek for a moment.)
Zaius: "Someone or something has outwitted the intelligence of the gorillas."
Zira: "That shouldn't be difficult."
Green Music Note beneathapes3.wav Cornelius: "If you are caught by the gorillas, you must remember one thing."
Brent: "What's that?"
Cornelius: "Never to speak."
Brent: "What the hell would I have to say to a gorilla?"
Green Music Note beneathapes4.wav Mutant Minister: "Glory be to the bomb and to the holy fallout as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be world without end. Amen."
Chorus: "Amen."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipbeneathapes1.mpg - 3.6m
Watch in helpless awe as a bomb-thumping mutant forces Taylor and Brent to attack each other.

Nova looks like a Zuni fetish doll with those big, white teeth of hers.

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