Beneath the Planet of the Apes is an 1970 American speculative fiction film of the adventure and science fiction subgenres. It is the second installment in the original Planet of the Apes film series and follows 1968's Planet of the Apes. A sequel, Escape from the Planet of the Apes was released in 1971. Beneath the Planet of the Apes was directed by Ted Post and written by Paul Dehn and Mort Abrahams. It was produced by APJAC Productions and released theatrically in the United States by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation on May 26th, 1970. The film stars James Franciscus in the role of time-lost astronaut John Brent. Returning cast members from the first film include Kim Hunter as Doctor Zira, Maurice Evans as Doctor Zaius, Linda Harrison as Nova and Charlton Heston making a special guest appearance as Colonel George Taylor. Other notable roles include David Watson as Cornelius, James Gregory as General Ursus and Paul Richards as Mendez XXVI.
Tracking Taylor Edit
Astronaut George Taylor addresses the captured chimpanzee minister of science, Doctor Zaius. He asks him why he hates humans so much. Zaius replies that he has always known about the true history of man and feared his return, accusing humans of destroying the paradise that was once the Forbidden Zone. Taylor takes Nova upon his horse and sets out to find his destiny. Zaius warns him that he may not like what he finds. As they travel down the shoreline, Taylor comes upon the partially buried ruins of the Statue of Liberty and realizes that he has been on Earth the whole time.
Meanwhile, a second rocket ship from Earth's past crash lands on the Planet of the Apes. This one is commanded by a skipper and an astronaut named John Brent. Skipper is critically injured in the crash and Brent pulls him out of the ship. He tells the skipper that they have followed Taylor's trajectory and must have passed through a Hasslein curve - a bend in space. They are now in the year 3955. The skipper cannot accept the fact that everyone he has ever known has been dead for centuries. The skipper dies soon after and Brent buries the body.
From a ridge above him, Nova stares down and observes Brent. Brent approaches her and takes note of the dog tags she wears about her neck that belongs to Taylor. As Brent repeats Taylor's name, she reflects back upon recent events. She recalls seeing a mysterious wall of flame that separated her from Taylor, leaving her alone with just a horse. Taylor's last words to her were to return to Doctor Zira should she lose him. Brent asks her to take him to find Taylor. Following Taylor's original instructions, she begins leading the horse back to Ape City.
The Call to War Edit
They come to an outside amphitheater and Brent is horrified to find that the city surrounding it is populated by talking apes. They hide in the bushes and watch as a surly militant gorilla named Ursus addresses the ape council. Ursus declares that there is a mysterious and aggressive force within the Forbidden Zone that is responsible for the deaths of many gorilla scouts. He wants to take swift and decisive action against whatever this force may be and whips the ape crowd into a frenzy of support. From the audience, Doctor Zira expresses her distaste for General Ursus through exuberant, yet mocking applause. Her behavior does not go unnoticed by the other apes.
As the speech winds down, Brent and Nova try to scurry away. A gorilla guard takes note of them however and begins firing his gun. One of the bullets wings Brent in the arm, but they manage to escape.
The two manage to find their way to Cornelius and Zira's abode. They hide inside a pantry, availing themselves of food as the two chimps enter the building. Brent overhears them voicing their protests against General Ursus and his gorilla followers and Zira is particularly upset that he even seems to have the ear of Doctor Zaius. Zira and Cornelius discover Brent and Nova and briefly mistake him for Taylor. Though this is not Taylor, they are still shocked to find another human with the gift of speech. Brent explains that he is looking for Taylor, and Zira and Cornelius express their concern for them as well. Brent asks for their help, indicating that they need food, water and a map. Zira begins dressing his bullet wound as Cornelius shows him their location on a map.
Having relaxed a bit in a steam bath with General Ursus, Doctor Zaius decides to pay a visit to Zira and Cornelius. As he enters their home, they quickly hide Brent and Nova in the back parlor. Zaius reprimands Zira for her behavior at the assembly. She holds firm to her beliefs and is less than thrilled to learn that Zaius will be accompanying General Ursus' war party to the Forbidden Zone. Before leaving, Zaius warns them that the entire future of ape civilization may rest upon their shoulders should he fail to return. As the door shuts, Brent and Nova emerge from hiding.
Zira and Cornelius give the humans a crash course in human/ape etiquette, stressing the fact that no matter what, they must never ever speak. If they are caught speaking, they will dissected and killed - in that order. Zira gives Brent a set of dirty rags to wear in place of his shining white astronaut's garb. They set out to continue their search for Taylor and Brent thanks them for their hospitality. Zira tells him he can thank them by finding Taylor.
On the run Edit
Brent and Nova begin riding off, but are almost immediately spotted by a party of gorilla scouts. They give chase and run Brent and Nova down, capturing them in their wide nets. They lock them up in the stockade for the night before bringing them back to ape city. As they take them down towards the jail, they pass a gorilla training exercise. In the jail, Brent is careful not to say a word and looks at the other mute humans contained in the cages. Doctor Zira arrives and immediately recognizes Brent. She fakes clinical interest in him, ordering both Brent and Nova to be brought back to her lab. General Ursus intercedes however and tells her that she cannot have them. They are marked for target practice.
Brent and Nova are then loaded into the back of a wood-caged wagon. Zira again feigns compliance with the other apes and tells the driver that she wants to double-lock the door before the take off. In fact, she actually unlocks the door to the cage and gives Brent a knowing nod before whispering, "Good luck".
As the wagon makes its way down a country road, Brent effects his escape. He climbs on top of the cage and begins wrestling with the gorilla coach driver. The two fight, but a low-hanging tree branch knocks the ape onto the ground. Once they are some distance away, Brent brings the wagon to a halt. He unhitches the horses and both Nova and he take one and ride off. Another gorilla party takes note of them and give chase. Brent and Nova keep a good distance ahead of them and eventually ditch their horses. They plod ahead on foot until they find themselves deep in the Forbidden Zone. Brent spots a crevasse that leads underground to a set of railroad tracks and Nova follows him.
The Forbidden Zone Edit
As they look around, Brent begins to see the trappings of familiarity. He surveys a long, excavated cavern and comes upon an old dust-covered pay phone. He then finds a frieze on the tiled wall that reads "Queensboro Plaza". At that moment, he realizes where he is. He is back on Earth. The realization dawns on him that mankind must have destroyed their civilization through atomic war.
Back in Ape City, the leaders of General Ursus' war party as well as Doctor Zaius' council attend a religious ceremony where a preacher offers a prayer and blessing for their upcoming crusade. Once the process concludes, the army rides out. A group of young chimpanzees bar their path, holding up signs decrying aggression and chanting, "We want freedom. We want peace". Ursus orders his soldiers to remove the troublemakers from the road.
In the underground ruins, Brent and Nova continue to walk along what used to be a subway tunnel. They begin hearing a high-pitched whining that draws their attention further down the cavern. They find a smaller, cleaner access tunnel and take it until it leads into a wide-open area. As they descend into the area, Brent notices the ruins of the New York Public Library and Radio City Music Hall.
They find a cistern filled with water. Although it is bitter and brackish, it is still their only source of nourishment. The high-pitched whining in their heads grows louder. As Nova leans over to drink, an unseen force takes control of Brent and he suddenly pushes her head into the cistern in an effort to drown her. He manages to shake off the effects momentarily and stumbles backward shouting, "Get out of my head!"
As the droning noise continues to increase in pitch, Brent stumbles through a pair of large wooden doors that open into the front parlor of a church. It is what used to be St. Patrick's Cathedral. On the steps before him he finds a robed human kneeling down in prayer to a large gold-plated missile on an altar. The man says nothing, but Brent can hear his thoughts inside of his head.
Two more men appear dressed in grey and white uniforms and escort Brent to a larger chamber. Inside are four more humans standing atop a balcony looking down upon him. Each of them wears a different colored vestment as a symbol of their authority. Brent tries to communicate with them, but the four humans remain silent, communicating only through telepathy.
They assail him with a barrage of questions about who he is and why he is in their underground city. They ask him about Taylor and about Nova. Hoping to protect her, Brent claims to be ignorant of who Nova is, but the telepaths continue prying until he is forced to tell him. When the mental assault becomes too much for him to endure, Brent's captors begin speaking aloud.
Brent learns that these beings possess other mental abilities as well. They are the ones responsible for creating the "sonic deterrent" that cause Nova and he to double over in pain. They can also create elaborate hallucinations in the minds of their targets. All of these are "weapons of peace" in their mind. The only such weapon of peace that is not a product of their mental faculties is the bomb in the alter room. They continue to ask him about the apes and their intentions, but Brent insists that he knows nothing.
Meanwhile, General Ursus, Doctor Zaius and the gorilla army reach the perimeter of the Forbidden Zone. Before reaching the caverns, their senses are assaulted of images of a wall of flame and apes being crucified. Zaius orders Ursus to give them a merciful death, but he cannot go against the edicts of the Lawgiver: Ape shall not kill ape. Another image appears before them; that of a giant statue of the Lawgiver himself. The statue begins bleeding out of it's eyes, nose and mouth and falls forward. While the other soldiers begin to panic, Zaius marches forward. He is not fooled by the illusion. All at once, the images cease and the army moves on.
Back in the Forbidden Zone, Brent and Nova are taken to the cathedral where a full assemblage of humans are in attendance singing praises to the bomb. The congregation is known as the Fellowship of the Holy Fallout. The leader of the group, Mendez XXVI reads from the Fellowship's scripture as a chorus sings. As they watch, Mendez activates a device that causes the bomb to rise. As the ceremony closes, the congregation rises and chants "I reveal my inmost self unto my God". As they do so, they pull away at their faces, revealing themselves as mutants who are the children of those who survived some unspeakable atomic nightmare ages ago. A look of stark horror crosses over Brent's face as the hairless scarred mutants continue to sing. Nova, as always, remains silent.
Bittersweet reunion Edit
After the service, Brent asks Mendez when he can hope to be set free. Mendez implies that he will never leave. A dark-skinned mutant Ongaro tells him that they cannot risk letting him go, for he knows too much. Ongaro brings him to a dungeon cell; the bars of which are barbed with large steel spikes. He places him inside and Brent is surprised to see that he now shares captivity with another prisoner - Taylor. The two embrace, overjoyed to see another familiar and friendly face. Brent tells Taylor about the bomb. From his description, Taylor recognizes it as the Doomsday Bomb - a weapon so powerful it could actually destroy the entire planet.
Ongaro speaks up and reminds them both that the members of the Fellowship do not kill their enemies, but rather they get their enemies to kill each other. He uses his mental powers to mind control the two Earth astronauts into fighting one another. The two toss each other around and try strangling one another. Taylor, being the larger of the two men, has the upper hand through most of the conflict. Ongaro decides to even the odds and enters the dungeon with a spiked weapon that he tosses to Brent. Brent swings the weapon, but Taylor deftly avoids the attack.
From outside the cell, a guard marches Nova down the corridor. She hears the fighting grunts of both men and breaks away to find them. As she sees them trying to kill one another, Nova utters her very first spoken word, "Taylor". The sound distracts Ongaro, breaking his mental hold over the two. They quickly take advantage of the opportunity and attack him, pinning him against the spiky protrusions of the cell door. Unfortunately, the door slams shut, sealing the two men, and now Nova, inside. Brent begins bashing at the lock with his studded weapon. Eventually, they snap the lock and are able to escape.
Final showdown Edit
Meanwhile, the gorilla army finds the passageway into the underground ruins of the Forbidden Zone. As they pass the collapsed steps of the New York Public library, they open fire on every mutant they come upon.
A single gorilla sentry marches down the corridor where Brent and Taylor have just escaped. The two men jump him, but the gorilla fires off a burst from his gun that fells Nova. Taylor cradles the dead woman in his arms and vows death upon every ape he can find.
In the passageway leading to the cathedral, Doctor Zaius is at the forefront of the army. They begin smashing the sculpted busts representing the leaders of the Mendez dynasty of the Fellowship of the Holy Fallout. They enter the interrogation chamber where Zaius finds a mutant woman, Albina, lying still on a bench. He sees that she has chosen to take her own life rather than succumb to the will of the apes.
The gorillas use a battering ram to burst through the wooden doors leading into the cathedral. The only occupant is the priest, Mendez. General Ursus orders his men to arrest him, but Mendez gestures towards the bomb and says, "This is the instrument of my God". He then primes the operation controls for the weapon. The missile rises even further. In an alcove above, Taylor and Brent witness the confrontation between ape and mutant. Ursus loses patience with the priest and has his men shoot him down. He then has his men tie ropes across the head of the bomb with the intent of pulling it down. Zaius protests this plan exclaiming, "It'll kill us all!", but Ursus ignores him.
Brent and Taylor decide to make their move. Brent strikes one of the organ pipes to distract Ursus and Zaius while Talor opens fire from the other side of the cathedral. However, Ursus spins around and is able to gun Taylor down. Brent then fires his rifle and shoots Ursus in the back, killing him. He trades several more shots with the advancing gorillas then stops to reload. At this critical moment, the gorillas get a clean shot and Brent goes down in a hail of bullets.
Taylor, bleeding and dying, but still alive, scrambles across the floor of the cathedral towards Zaius. Zaius admonishes him, citing that humans are capable of nothing but destruction. Taylor calls Zaius a "bloody bastard" then falls upon the activation controls for the bomb. His limp hand presses the final sequence, which detonates the weapon. Everything goes white as the entire Earth is destroyed.
Main cast Edit
|James Franciscus||John Brent|
|Maurice Evans||Doctor Zaius|
|Paul Richards||Mendez XXVI|
|Victor Buono||Fat man|
|Don Pedro Colley||Negro|
|Eldon Burke||Gorilla sergeant|
|Charlton Heston||George Taylor|
Supporting cast Edit
|Angelina Bauer||Chimpanzee protester|
|Erlynn Mary Botelho||Ape|
|Hank Robinson||Bomb worshipper|
|Paul Frees||Ending voiceover|
Notes & Trivia Edit
- This film is included on the Planet of the Apes: The Evolution DVD boxset collection.
- Copyright © MCMLXIX by APJAC Productions, Inc. and Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation.
- Tagline: "An army of civilized apes... A fortress of radiation-crazed super humans.. .Earth's final battle is about to begin - Beneath the atomic rubble of what was once the city of New York!"
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes was released on Blu-ray on November 4th, 2008 by Twentieth Century Fox Home Video.
- Set pieces were filmed at 20th Century Fox Studios in Century City, Los Angeles, California. Exterior shots were filmed at Red Rock Canyon State Park in Cantil, California.
- An audio version of the film was included as the second vignette on the Planet of the Apes LP by Power Records, 1974.
- Actor Charlton Heston was reluctant to do a sequel. After some negotiating, he agreed to return for the film, but only if his character could be killed off in the beginning. As the script went through it's various changes, producer Mort Abrahams approached Heston and offered up the alternative of having his character go missing in the beginning, but he returns for the end of the movie where he is killed. 
- Actor Roddy McDowall was unavailable to reprise his role as the chimpanzee Cornelius because he was busy directing the horror film The Devil's Widow in England during the time of production. He was replaced by actor David Watson. However, McDowall's Cornelius does make a brief appearance in the beginning of the film reading from the Sacred Scrolls. This was archival footage from the first Planet of the Apes film.
- According to Charlton Heston, it was his idea to destroy the planet at the end of the film, insuring that there would be no further sequels. Clearly, Twentieth Century-Fox found away around this franchise-killing concept and three more sequels were brought to life as well as two remakes. 
- Grossed $8,600,000 in video rentals in the United States. 
The first movie, Planet of the Apes establishes that Taylor and his crew crash-land back on Earth in the year 3978. This is shown on the Icarus' date-meter as well as the main menu screen on the Planet of the Apes: The Evolution DVD collection. In Beneath the Planet of the Apes however, Brent's ship lands on Earth after the events in the first movie, but indicates that the year is 3955. This date is referenced again in Escape from the Planet of the Apes when Zira reveals some critical information while under the influence of alcohol. This continuity gaff may be reconciled if the gauges on Brent's ship malfunctioned prior to landing, stopping the time-meter clock at the year 3955. This however does not reconcile Zira's confirmation of the year 3955 in Escape from the Planet of the Apes, as her only knowledge of the Greco-Roman calendar would have come from the Icarus.