BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970)
Article #1097 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 3-16-2004
Posting Date: 8-13-2004
Directed by Ted Post
Featuring James Franciscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans
An astronaut on a rescue mission to find Taylor becomes stranded on the Planet of the Apes himself.
At heart, I’m fond of the whole “Planet of the Apes” cycle of movies; I was always a little impressed that the movies loop back on themselves, which gave the series as a whole a sense of completion. I suspect that it wasn’t initially planned that way, but I always liked that the decision was made to go in that direction.
However, I don’t place all of the movies on equal footing, and this is one I place fairly low. The first half of the movie plays somewhat like a bare-bones rehash of the original movie without that movie’s wit, while the second half with the bomb-worshipping mutants comes across as silly, especially during the worship sequence. Despite the fact that the movie does attempt to crack a joke occasionally, the movie takes itself several times more seriously than the original without ever becoming worthy of that seriousness, and at times the dialogue reminded me of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE. Several members of the original cast return for this one, though my favorite performance is from James Gregory as Ursus; it was fun to hear his distinct voice coming through that gorilla makeup. Other than that, I did enjoy spotting Victor Buono as one of the mutants, and I was also amused to see that Tod Andrews and Jeff Corey were in the cast. Charlton Heston is back for a few scenes, as well as Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans and Linda Harrison. Except for recycled footage from the original, Roddy McDowall is noticeably absent, however, though his character is still here (David Watson takes over the role); it would be the only movie of the series to lack his presence. Overall, the movie is a rather glum and gloomy addition to the series, and I think it lacks the fun that marks most of the other entries in the series.