Another great show from Exhumed Films! All five original features. In 35mm Scope! Lots of trailers, lots of bananas, and some very good vegan banana ice cream. You all know the drill by now, so on to the films:
Planet of the Apes Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968
A smart, exciting apocalyptic sci-fi film. It truly deserves its status as a classic of the genre. Not only that, but essentially its a screed against intelligent design. And it was made before evolution became such a hot-button issue in more recent years.
The message aside, it is a damn-fine adventure film with some great scenes. From Heston getting hosed down and screaming at the insanity of the situation, to Heston getting captured in a net and yelling at the ape who grabs him. But the message is strong, and it really comes through in the famous final shot. Heston, realizing what has happened to the world, yelling at those who destroyed mankind. Yelling at us.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes Ted Post, 1970
This one gets rid of the mythology set up in the first film, thereby ripping out the guts of it. Taken by itself, when you don’t compare it to the first one, it contains some interesting sc-fi ideas. Namely the underground telekinetic mutants worshiping an atomic bomb. The ending is good. Heston literally destroys the Earth, effectively ending the story of the planet of the apes. Until….
Escape From the Planet of the Apes Don Taylor, 1971 –
After the Earth is destroyed and all the characters are dead, where do you take the series? Well, I think they had the right idea. They just decided to make a completely different movie. Two apes from the original films somehow take a spaceship back in time to the 70s, before the Earth blows up.
This one is more a fish-out-of-water comedy for most of its running time. And an entertaining one due to its utter strangeness. The apes become celebrities, but quickly things take a turn for the worse when it is found they might be the cause of the coming apocalypse. The kooky 70s comedy becomes very dark, with only the gleaming smile of Ricardo Montalban to keep us happy until the next film.
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes J. Lee Thompson, 1972
Drifting even further away from the mythology of the first film, this one shows us a version of how the apes came into power. The apes, now used as slaves, are lead in a revolution by Cesar, the son of the two apes from the previous film. The idea behind this film was great. The story works and leads to quite a climax.
The problem is that the scenes are choppy. Something is off in the pacing and the editing. But there is enough here to make a good film, and Ricardo Montalban is back so that pushes it to almost great.
Battle for the Planet of the Apes J. Lee Thompson, 1978 –
Was four apes films too little? Did they need a fifth one? Well, it’s here and I got to watch it. This time the conflict is between the chimps, the humans and the gorillas. Cesar is still in charge, and he has made a nice little community. But unfortunately there are some issues. The friendly humans feel subjugated, the radioactive humans are bored, and the gorillas are in need of some combat.
So, the audience is treated to a battle for the planet of the apes. There isn’t much else here, besides the chance to see Paul Williams and John Huston is ape costumes. Which I guess was a fitting end to this up and down series.