“Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970) / Z-View

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Director: Ted Post

Screenplay: Paul Dehn from a story by Paul Dehn, Mort Abrahams based on characters created by Pierre Boulle

Stars: James Franciscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison, Paul Richards, Victor Buono, James Gregory, Jeff Corey, Natalie Trundy, Thomas Gomez, Gregory Sierra and Charlton Heston.

Tagline: The bizarre world you met in ‘Planet of the Apes’ was only the beginning… What lies beneath may be the end!

The Plot…

A spaceship sent on a rescue mission crashes on an unidentified planet.  Brent (Franciscus), the sole survivor, realizes he has somehow gone forward in time.  As he explores his new surroundings, Brent comes across Nova (Harrison) a beautiful, but mute woman.  Nova is wearing Taylor’s dogtags.  Taylor is one of the astronauts his crew was sent to rescue.

Brent soon sees that the planet is populated by intelligent apes and humans are speechless savages.  Hunted by apes, Brent and Nova hope to escape into the Forbidden Zone where something even more dangerous than apes awaits them.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

I loved (and still love) Planet of the Apes.  I had such high hopes for Beneath the Planet of the Apes.  Charlton Heston was set to return.  This time Heston would be joined by James Franciscus (who I liked in Valley of Gwangi and various guest spots on tv).  How could this go wrong?

Let me count the ways… Heston’s role amounts to a glorified cameo.  The ape civilization is made less threatening when we see young apes protesting the war (shades of Viet Nam).  The whole subplot with disfigured humans who worship a nuclear bomb seems like it was cribbed from a bad episode of Star Trek. Other than Highlander to Highlander 2, I’ve never been as disappointed in a sequel.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) rates 2 of 5 stars.