Ape-praising The Apes: Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970) - DVD Review

Ape-praising The Apes: Film Intel looks back at all of the original Apes films in the lead up to Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.

'there's a further set of antagonists who don't arrive until the fifty-five minute mark, seem quite nefarious to begin with and then fall in to that oldest of Seventies Science-Fiction traps: being far too silly'

The first sequel to Planet Of The Apes, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes is notable for two things; the return of star Charlton Heston (who, in a lot of ways, made the first film) and the fact that it retains the pang of skepticism and darkness that marked the first film, particularly in the way it chooses to finish.

Apart from those two elements though, Beneath is largely a po-faced failure blighted by some amateurish timing issues. It takes roughly half of the film for main characters Brent (James Franciscus) and Nova (Linda Harrison, also returning from the first film) to make it underneath the surface the planet. Audiences could be forgiven for expecting this to be the main crux of the film but instead their underground exploits run only for about forty-five minutes. This could be forgivable if not for the fact that the first forty-five minutes is basically a re-telling of the original story with Taylor (Heston) replaced by Brent, the latter taking time to become accustomed to where he is, thinking it is all a 'bloody nightmare' and then being forced to run from his simian captors.

The final act of the film - rushed and ill-developed - has a further set of antagonists who don't arrive until the fifty-five minute mark, seem quite nefarious to begin with and then fall in to that oldest of Seventies Science-Fiction traps: being far too silly. Anyone who manages to watch some of the scenes in this section without calling to mind at least the title of Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb is a braver man than I. A late piece of gruesome schlock can't save them and they are confined to the obscurity files for all eternity.

The final scenes offer a tad more clarity than a lot of what has gone before and certainly deserve recognition for some of their brave decisions. Taylor's arc in particular is interesting to observe and, although his motivations would have been clearer had we spent the entire film with him, his decisions are plausible conclusions of character development. Brent becomes slightly anonymous but Franciscus does well with what he has, which, to be frank, isn't much, in a script inferior to the first by some way.

Look further...

'Things I Learned From This Movie: Never volunteer to be a target for tactical whip practice.' - BadMovies.org


  1. I have seen all the sequels way back in 1988, and if I remember correctly they all stunk!! I've just seen the re-boot today and actually enjoyed it, but it just doesn't hold a candle against the original! But it is probably superior to some of the originals sequels!
    Will be interested to read what you think when your turn comes to see it!
    In an aside it is interesting to see that TVNZ hasn't run the original which shows to me how the original has lost its impact. Normally local telly when a famous movie has a sequel or re-boot we get the preceding films played as a build up. But not with Planet of the Apes. I was hoping they would since Rise is billed as a pre-quel I wanted to see how it tied into the original. Will wait to see what you say on that one.

  2. Interesting that none of them have been shown. If you look on its IMDb page, RISE is billed as a remake of CONQUEST (the fourth film) so would perhaps have expected to show that but, then again, the titles are coherently linked and I haven't seen it screening on English TV at all either. Glad you enjoyed the new one!

  3. I have a strange relationship with this franchise. Despite being a fan of the TV show when it showed in the UK when I was a kid, apart from Tim Burton's remake, I don't think i've seen any of the original movies.

    Thanks for doing this series, makes me motivated to seek them out!

  4. The box set of all five original films plus a bonus DVD cost me £5 second hand and I think you can pick it up for £10 or so brand new. Well worth it really. The sequels do get (slightly) better than this and the first film is fantastic.