STARRING: James Fransiscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison, Charlton Heston, Victor Buono

1970, 95 Minutes, Directed by: Ted Post

beneath.jpg (21212 bytes)Description: This 1970 sequel to Planet of the Apes  continues the original's distant future scenario, pitting militant apes against mutant humans dwelling in the subterranean ruins of New York City.

Suffering from a sense of de ja vu while watching Beneath the Planet of the Apes? Maybe that’s because the film opens with the closing shots of the first (and superior) Planet of the Apes film. Or maybe it’s the plot.

When the first Apes movie became an unexpected success, it was obvious that a sequel had to be made. But how to continue the story? The best it would seem the screenwriters would come up with was having another NASA astronaut crash-land on the planet in which apes are the dominant species and the humans inferior.

The astronaut - played by James Fransiscus, the poor man’s Charlton Heston I suppose –who was sent off to find fellow astronaut Heston. However, just as interest in this premise waivers, the film kicks off into more imaginative territory (literally! – you’ll see what I mean) when Fransiscus comes into contact with hideous underground mutants who worship an atomic bomb!

Some nice commentary on Cold War MAD-ness (Mutually Assured Destruction – the "logic" behind having several thousand nuclear bombs that can destroy the planet several times over to ensure peace) there!

Judging from the film’s ending you wouldn’t have guessed it, but this film was followed by three more sequels, namely Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and finally Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). Not to mention the television series.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes is considered by some to be the best of the numerous Planet of Apes sequels, but my personal favorite is the more imaginative Escape from the Planet of the Apes entry. However, the ideas in Beneath the Planet of the Apes are still reasonably fresh, the make-up and sets still good.

Entertainingly cheesy.


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