Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Tagline : The bizarre world of "Planet of the Apes" was only the beginning...

Runtime : 95 mins

Genre : Adventure Science Fiction Mystery

Vote Rating : 6.2/10

Budget : 3 million $ USD

Revenue : 19 million $ USD

Plot : The sole survivor of an interplanetary rescue mission discovers a planet ruled by apes, and an underground city run by telepathic humans.

Cast Members


**James Franciscus versus the mutant lunatics!** A great, dark sequel to the original classic that goes beyond the downbeat ending of the original and gives us an even more depressing one! No mean feat considering how bleak the ending to the first movie was. I love this movie. The legendary James Franciscus _(The Valley Of Gwangi_) is astronaut Brent - sent to find the missing Taylor. He finds him, of course, deep _beneath_ the ruins of a post apocalyptic city - imprisoned by _psychotic mutants_ with the power of telepathy. Meanwhile, those _pesky apes_ are marching on the city to find out just what the hell is going on and what all the kerfuffle is about regarding reports of _crucified apes and bleeding statues._ This all leads to a shocking climax _you wont forget in a long time._ It's all rather disturbing and that is precisely why it succeeds. - Potential Kermode

_**Classic Sci-Fi Adventure with a KILLER Ending**_ Of the five original "Planet of the Apes" films only the first one (1968) and this sequel, "Beneath" (1970), are truly great and worthwhile. The three prequels devolve in quality: "Escape from" (1971) has its points of interest and amusement, "Conquest of" (1972) is okay, but too one-dimensional, and "Battle for" (1973) is weak. "Beneath" is the only actual sequel, hence, both the original and "Beneath" should be digested as one long story. The plot revolves around astronaut, James Franciscus, landing on the ape planet in search of Taylor & his crew. He makes contact with a primitive babe who knew Taylor (Nova, played by jaw-dropping Linda Harrison) and then embarks upon a quest to find him, leading first to the ape city and then to the "forbidden zone," a holocaust-ruined wasteland with a cryptic underground refuge. Growing up, I always favored "Beneath" above the original film. Why? Possibly because "Beneath" has a lot more action, especially toward the end, and the concept of the psychic mutants was both eerie and captivating. As an adult, however, I've come to appreciate the original in increasing measure; it's deeper than "Beneath," more intellectual. Each film has its strengths and weaknesses and they compliment each other well. Many criticize James Franciscus as a Heston clone. Although this is a valid complaint (Linda Harrison described Franciscus as a smaller version of Charleton Heston) and Heston as Taylor is indeed inimitable (so don't even try), I never had a problem with Franciscus in this film. He does a fine job in the role of the stranded astronaut on a planet of madness. His character, Brent, isn't disillusioned with humanity like Taylor, so he has less of an 'edge,' but Brent is a fine generic 'everyman.’ All the main characters from the first film are present. Aside from Nova and Taylor, the story features Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans), Zira (Kim Hunter) and Cornelius. Unfortunately Roddy McDowall wasn't available to play Cornelius so they brought in David Watson for the part, which isn't much of a problem because you can't tell beneath all the ape make-up and Watson does a splendid job mimicking McDowall. A new character is introduced and that is Ursus, the gorilla general, played by James Gregory (remember him from the original Star Trek episode "Dagger of the Mind"?). Who could ever forget Ursus' motivational speech: "The only good human is a DEAD human!!"? There are numerous great scenes and images; for example, the gorillas marching in the forbidden zone and the gigantic appearance of their revered Lawgiver with a bleeding face, then collapsing. Some criticize that the first half of the story is merely an inferior repeat of the original film (astronaut crashlands, discovers that apes rule the planet and ends up in ape city), but it was great the first time around, why not experience it again with some nuances? (Especially since "Beneath" was released two years after the original). I admit that this section of "Beneath" isn't as great as the original, it's even kind of boring (that is, after seeing the first film), but WAIT till Brent and Nova escape ape city and discover a mysterious and intriguing underground lair. One beef I've always had with "Beneath" is that Leonard Rosenman's blaring score is a little mediocre compared to Jerry Goldsmith's original. It properly mimics the original and is serviceable, but doesn’t quite cut it. Why didn't they just re-use Goldsmith's score? On a technical level, "Beneath" isn't nearly as good as the original due to obvious budget limitations. The subpar score is one example; another would be the all-too-obvious pull-over ape masks in certain scenes. But these are minor cavils and never prevented me from wholly enjoying the flick. Still, I could see why some would give the film a lower rating for this reason. The climax is KILLER, and I mean that literally, as Brent ultimately finds Taylor and the gorillas invade the underground turf. Some great action entails and then... well, I’m not going to give-away the nihilistic climax. Regardless, I always loved the ending; in its own way it's just as great as the iconic close of the original. The film runs 1 hour, 35 minutes and was shot in Southern Cal at Malibu Creek State Park, Calabasas; Century Fox Studios, Century City; and Red Rock Canyon State Park. GRADE: A- ***SPOILER ALERT CONCERNING THE NATURE OF THE MUTANTS*** It is revealed that the psychic mutants are human caricatures who literally worship the "doomsday bomb," a bomb capable of destroying the entire planet. It would appear that human beings need something to worship even in a devolved state, which suggests that humankind is incurably religious. This may be a negative reflection on religion, which is the human attempt to connect with God ('religion' means "to bind back"), but it isn't a negative reflection on biblical Christianity, which concerns the Creator connecting with humanity through the death & resurrection of the Messiah and the subsequent life-birthing power of the Spirit. In any case, the perverted religious nature of the psychic mutants is nothing less than fascinating, albeit a bit laughable at times, e.g. "the fellowship of the holy fallout." Nevertheless, the portrayal of their psychic powers is the best depiction in cinema IMHO.

Enjoyable mostly due to returning cast members, this first sequel could have been so much more. Sadly, this has "money grab" written all over it. Heston was reluctant to return, and only agreed once promised his character Taylor would die. One can only wonder what might have been had he been more enthusiastic, perhaps a decent plot and script? Sigh...

Quite a far way off its predecessor, even if 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes' is still a good film. Charlton Heston reportedly wasn't initially interested in returning for a sequel, though, to his credit, did in the end return briefly to tie up his character's loose end - and apparently even gave his fee to charity. That's why we don't see much of him here, which is a shame but given the aforementioned it came out well enough. James Franciscus takes over from Heston and does a fine job, the latter is definitely the better of the two but Franciscus is passable. Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans and Linda Harrison do return, though the first two basically play second fiddle to others - including newcomer James Gregory's bunch of characters; Gregory is solid, fwiw. As for the film's other parts, make-up etc., it's basically the same as the original. The plot even feels similar for a fair chunk of this production, though it eventually goes its own way. I'm even more interested to check out the subsequent sequels, given the ending to this 1970 film was apparently intended - by those on the ground, so to speak - to be the final entry; the studio evidently wasn't in agreement.

Charlton Heston's "Taylor" returns to top and tail this otherwise pretty poor sequel that features James Franciscus as "Brent". He, too, is an astronaut who is fleeing the wrath of the apes when he meets up with "Nova" (Linda Harrison). That's lucky because he's looking for "Taylor" and she was his gal for a while. Might she be able to lead him to him before the pursuing militia string them up? Well, she does lead him to an underground city that's populated with human religious zealots who have remarkable telepathic powers and worship a (golden) nuclear missile as their god. Yep, it's all a bit weak around the knees this. It's over scripted, there is nowhere near enough action to sustain it and I have never really understood Hollywood's flirtation with the Heston-esque Franciscus who looked ok with his shirt off, but really offered very little when it came to characterisation. I quite liked the ending - I just wished it had maybe come half an hour earlier! More to come, no doubt - let's hope they are better.

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