top of page
  • Rev Horror

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Dir. Ted Post (1970)

Another astronaut has crashed on a planet filled with monkeys in an attempt to rescue his predecessor.

In for a penny, in for a pound, right? After watching the OG Planet of the Apes, I decided what better way to kill a slow night than to try to make my way through the entire series. Up next is Beneath the Planet of the Apes, a bizarre mishmash of the original film (to the extent that the first almost ten minutes are just the ending to the first flick) and H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, complete with an underground race of mutants who possess the power to destroy the Earth. In some ways vastly inferior to the original, Beneath tells a much more complicated story that has some bright and shining ape-tacular moments that make it a worthy successor to the cult classic original.

This time, John Brent (James Franciscus) finds himself alone on the Monkey Planet in what is supposed to be a rescue mission for Taylor (Charlton Heston). When Brent comes across Nova (Linda Harrison) riding her horse in the desert with Taylor's dog tags around her neck, he begins a search for the lost traveler in a journey that takes him right through Ape City all the way into the bowels of what used to be New York City. Along the way, he finds a group of radiated mutants who control an atomic bomb, left over from the first time the humans destroyed the world, and a brutal gorilla General named Ursus (James Gregory) who seeks to take the fight to the Morlocks... er... people.

Much of the social satire and critique is gone in this one, though there's still quite a bit that makes it a fascinating film. Gregory's portrayal of Ursus is fantastic, his dictator-like control over the apes' military fascinating to watch (and was by far the best part of the film... I could watch an entire film just dedicated to his monkey life). Franciscus is a much more appealing lead than Heston's, though his character is a bit less fleshed out than Taylor. The strange apparent-love triangle between Brent, Taylor, and Nova works well for the film, which is a little surprising because most of those shoehorned plot points don't usually bode well for a film. While Beneath certainly takes the gloves off in its epic weirdness, as a sci-fi cult classic, it's hardly surprising.

There are definite shades of Serling all over the film, though his only alleged contribution was in the suggestion of the people beneath the Earth. Granted, that's a huge part of the plot, including almost the entirety of the third act. The commentary gives way to telekinetic religious zealots who worship the A-bomb, giving Beneath a surprising amount in common with the Fallout series. If that's where Bethesda got the idea, I can certainly say they executed it much better, though there is definitely a creepy element in this cult that wasn't present in the original film.

The plot of the film is relatively barebones, and what exists is largely batshit crazy. I dig the elements of the "war" between the monkeys and man, which was hinted but never fully delved into in the original. If you're someone who is into science fiction, however, it all feels par for the course. This doesn't feel like something that would be out of character for an early Star Trek episode, though admittedly that is not my usual cup of tea. As a sequel to the original, however, it works surprisingly well, a bit of depth to what was, on the surface, a relatively shallow movie to begin with. Whether or not the added implications are something worth exploring leaves itself entirely in the hands of the viewer.

Who this movie is for: Sci-fi fanatics, Cult classic lovers, Children of the Atom

Bottom line: Beneath the Planet of the Apes is a spot-on title, because once those monkeys dig beneath the surface, shit gets weird. Psychic mutants, gorilla warlords, and a dearth of Charlton Heston's hairy chest highlights an insane sequel that is worth watching for its monkey General alone. This one is streaming on Hulu now as a part of the entire franchise, and it's definitely worth a watch for its head-shaking plotline at least.

Featured Reviews

Featured Interviews

bottom of page