One of the world’s strangest sci-fi flicks was released 52 years ago!


Despite what some may say about Beneath the Planet of the Apes—and many have—you’ve got to give it credit for one thing: Planet of the Apes was one heckuva hard act to follow, but Beneath gives it the ol’ college try.

And in many ways, it succeeds—the expansion of the world-building, the new characters, some returning faces, and of course all those crazy mutants and their bomb-god. I used a lot of Beneath’s features in my story for my 2017 anthology, Planet of the Apes: Tales from the Forbidden Zone, and a rewatch for this article was like catching up with an old friend… or a few simians.

So, in that vein, forget the humans and mutants; let’s hear it for those damn, dirty apes and my favorite moments with them in the film, which was released May 26, 1970:

Ursus Pulls No Punches. Got to hand it to that General Ursus—when he wants to get his point across, he doesn’t mince words. The “simple soldier” lays it out for his fellow apes when he shouts, “The only good human is a dead human!” and the crowd goes wild.

Home Sweet Home. I always get a real kick out of our glimpse into Cornelius’ and Zira’s home life, complete with plants, pipes, and a kitchen for cake-making. It’s the kind of pad you can really swing in.

Terrifying Training. The gorilla’s put on a horrifying show when they train for their upcoming invasion of the Forbidden Zone. Check out all the nets, whips, bayonets… and cannons! They had cannons!

Simian Service. I love the orangutan priest who holds a service for the departing soldiers. It’s a fascinating counterpoint to the mutants’ own holy services.

Down with Gorillas! As the gorillas leave Ape City, they find their path blocked by a group of very loud chimp protesters holding up signs with slogans like “Give Us Peace” and “Wage peace Not War.” How Seventies, dude!

March, Ape, March. The production company really pulled together an impressive array of gorilla soldiers for the march across the wasteland to the mutants’ turf. And there’re those cannons again! Boy, I wish we could’ve seen those babies in action.

It’s All in Your Mind. Another of my most favorite moments in the film is the ape army confronted by the mutants’ illusions. It begins with a terrifying vision of apes being tortured upside down on poles and ends with an apocalyptic wham-doodle of a giant, bleeding Lawgiver statue. Luckily, Zaius saw through it all.

This Sure Ain’t the Jungle. The sight of the apes invading the underground ruins of New York City and the mutants’ home is both weird and cool. The simians aren’t in their natural habitat anymore, and you can only guess it’s sheer horror at what they’re seeing that keeps them going.

A Bright Star Extinguished. Nova’s death comes from a gorilla soldier’s gun going off when the humans accost him, which is sadly ironic. It’s also the moment when Taylor is just done with it all.

He Likes Blondes. A very strange thing happens when the apes discover the corpse of the female mutant Albina: A gorilla soldier approaches the body and fondles her long blonde tresses. Weird as it is, it’s far, far better than what happens in the same scene in the film’s novelization…

Bombshell. Can it get any more goofy-fun than Ursus’ command to his soldiers to bring the Alpha-Omega down from its perch? I will never get over the sight of gorillas going ape with block and tackle to lower the world’s deadliest weapon to a better vantage point.

Ursus Gets His. Finally, that stuffed hairshirt eats some lead and while it’s over in a second, it’s oh-so satisfying to see Ursus finally shut his big mouth—forever.

The Final Countdown. There’s also something very satisfying to witness the ultimate confrontation between two old enemies: namely Taylor and Zaius. I’m pretty sure Taylor got the last word that time.


— Growing Up on the Planet of the Apes. Click here.

— 13 MEGO PLANET OF THE APES Figures We Want to See — RANKED. Click here.

JIM BEARD has pounded out adventure fiction since he sold a story to DC Comics in 2002. He’s gone on to write official Star Wars and Ghostbusters comics stories and contributed articles and essays to several volumes of comic book history. His prose work includes his own creations, but also licensed properties such as Planet of the Apes, X-Files, Spider-Man, Kolchak the Night Stalker and Captain Action. In addition, Jim provided regular content for Marvel.com, the official Marvel Comics website, for 17 years.

Check out his latest releases: a Green Hornet novella How Sweet the Sting, his first epic fantasy novel The Nine Nations Book One: The Sliding WorldRunning Home to Shadows about Dark Shadows, and the most recent Batman ’66 books of essays he’s edited: Zlonk! Zok! Zowie! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season OneBiff! Bam! Ee-Yow! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Essays on Batman ’66 – Season Two and Oooff! Boff! Splatt! The Subterranean Blue Grotto Guide to Batman ’66 – Season Three.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. My cousin and I have been addicted to all things Apes since the early 70s. The other day he asked me a question I never considered before, “where are the female gorillas and orangutans?”

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    • The only female gorilla character I can recall anywhere in the Apes franchise is in the first episode of the series “Terror on the Planet of the Apes,” in the Marvel Planet of the Apes mag in the mid-seventies. It featured a very sensitive portrayal of Zena, the wife of the terrorist gorilla leader Brutus. (You can find PDFs of this issue on Hunter’s Planet of the Apes Archive on the net.)

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  2. I had such a crush on Linda Harrison (Nova).

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  3. What happened in the novelization with the blonde mutant? Acquiring minds must know!

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    • I was also wondering that as well, Travis. (It’s been a few decades since I read the book.)

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    • Yes now I am curious!

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  4. Man cool to post the image of the Gold Key comic adaptation of the film! I read this comic before seeing any of the APES films so that was my first exposure to this cool world along with POTA trading cards. I also think I may of seen this film first on a B&W TV a few years after it’s release so I have always had a soft spot for this film in me heart. Still like the first film a bit more, but this one still rocks in many ways!

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