Film Review: Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Also known as: Planet of the Man, Planet of the Apes Revisited (working titles)
Release Date: April 23rd, 1970 (Italy)
Directed by: Ted Post
Written by: Paul Dehn, Mort Abrahams
Based on: characters by Pierre Boulle
Music by: Leonard Rosenman
Cast: James Franciscus, Kim Hunter, Maurice Evans, Linda Harrison, Charlton Heston, Paul Richards, Victor Buono, Gregory Sierra

APJAC Productions, Twentieth Century Fox, 95 Minutes

Review:

“Glory be to the Bomb, and to the Holy Fallout. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.” – Mendez

From memory, I always considered this to be the worst of the Planet of the Apes movies. I’m pretty sure I’ll still see it that way, once I get done revisiting the original five pictures.

This is just a really weird film and a major misfire, after its great predecessor and its mostly enjoyable sequels. Plus, this ends in a way that sort of kills the franchise. I’m not sure how they explain away this film’s ending in the next movie because I haven’t seen it in years, but this movie ends with the destruction of Earth.

Anyway, Charlton Heston returns but he’s only in the opening of the film and then in the third act. The lead role was given to James Franciscus, who looks an awfully lot like Heston, even though he’s a new character. However, he eventually meets Heston and works with him in trying to free themselves from the apes.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes is so bizarre, though. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Apart from the apes, we meet a new group of antagonists, which are humans with psychic powers due to their exposure to radioactivity from Earth being nuked by mankind, earlier in this timeline’s history. The people also wear masks to cover up their disfigured faces. However, their masks are realistic versions of what their faces would look like without being destroyed by radiation. It doesn’t make a lot of sense and it’s just a stupid plot device so that the studio could cheap out and only use makeup effects sparingly.

In the larger Apes mythos, it’s almost best to ignore this picture. It doesn’t really fit with what comes after it and it threw a curveball into the narrative and concept that was so bad, it was never revisited or re-adapted in future remakes.

Apart from that, this is still a good looking film for its time but it’s still pretty obvious that the studio was trying to do things on the cheap: recycling previous set pieces and props while using less makeup effects and diverting away from the apes as the biggest focal point.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: the four other Planet of the Apes movies from the original run, as well as the television show from the ’70s.

Film Review: The Silencers (1966)

Release Date: February 18th, 1966
Directed by: Phil Karlson
Written by: Oscar Saul
Based on: The Silencers and Death of a Citizen by Donald Hamilton
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Cast: Dean Martin, Stella Stevens, Daliah Lavi, Victor Buono, Roger C. Carmel

Columbia Pictures, 102 Minutes

the_silencersReview:

I didn’t even know about this film until recently, when I discovered it on a list of recommended movies on a tikiphile message board. I also discovered, after watching it, that there are two sequels.

The Silencers is a damn fun movie! It stars Dean Martin as a playful James Bond wannabe. In fact, the film is a parody of James Bond movies and the popular spy genre of the time. Truthfully, it is better than some of the films it parodies and as hammy as Martin was, he still didn’t cross the line like Roger Moore. I really love Roger Moore, by the way.

I guess this movie can be best described as sort of the Austin Powers of the 1960s. It also is a part of a trilogy like those Powers films. The thing is, this is much better than any Austin Powers or Mike Myers movie could ever dream to be. It isn’t gratuitously stupid and it has stood the test of time better. It is a more authentic feeling parody. Although, coming out in the same era as those films, probably has a lot to do with it feeling more true to the vibe and style of the spy genre.

Dean Martin is great as super spy Matt Helm. He has a sense of humor and a wit that few can match. I guess this is why he was so successful at hosting those celebrity roasts in the old days. In fact, there is a great moment in this film where he casually roasts his best buddy Frank Sinatra.

Martin has two leading ladies, because which super spy doesn’t have at least two? Both did really well with the material. I thought the performance by Stella Stevens was a step above Daliah Lavi but they both put in solid performances.

Being a fan of the 1966 Batman television series, I was really excited to see Victor Buono (who played the villain King Tut on that show) as the sinister Tung-Tze. We also got Roger C. Carmel (who played the villain Colonel Gumm in Batman and Harry Mudd on the original Star Trek) as a top ranking henchman.

The Silencers literally had me laughing out loud several times. Dean Martin was suave and hilarious throughout the entire picture. Few men have ever matched his swagger and those that did were already in the Rat Pack.

Rating: 8/10