Even a damn infant knows that 1968's PLANET OF THE APES is an undisputed classic -- not just of the scifi genre, but of film in general. But what many people don't realize is that the initial four APES sequels are every bit as bizarre, terrifying, ambitious and revolutionary as the initial installment, each featuring an entirely unique avalanche of anti-human insanity. In fact, each of the original five films fit together to form a perfect and underappreciated whole, a masterpiece of possible futures and altered histories and -- most importantly -- two-fisted, lazer-powered gorilla warfare.
In recent years, Hollywood has boneheadedly slumped back to the drawing board to recapture the gritty grandeur of the first film and other genre favorites, but as is often the case, they haven't yet been able to rekindle the magic. Maybe they'd do themselves a favor by finding guidance and inspiration from the lesser-seen APES sequels. Here is just a modest sampling of what each of these primal powerhouses has to offer:
BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970) - Once our heroes have escaped from the sun-scorched surface of the new Earth, they're greeted by a quasi-human race of telekinetic albinos who are housing a dark secret. And they worship an atomic bomb, which is a whole lot more powerful than what most people worship, in my opinion.
BEST SCENE: The subterranean semi-humans reveal their true forms in what has to be the most traumatic segment in G-rated film history.
BEST APE DIALOGUE: "The only good human... is a dead human!"
ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971) - Here, the kind-hearted, human-lovin' ape duo of Cornelius and Zira blast through space and time to 20th Century Los Angeles! It's PLANET OF THE APES in reverse, and humans prove themselves to be just as cruddy and racist as the series' warlike simians. Meanwhile, the incredible Ricardo Montalban hams it up as a circus owner.
BEST SCENE: The interstellar apes get drunk!
BEST APE DIALOGUE: "Augh! I loathe bananas!"
CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1972) - The son of the ESCAPE apes takes on mankind in full metal primate rebellion war!
BEST SCENE: Our hairy hero undergoes savage electro-shock therapy! RAAAAGE!!!
BEST APE DIALOGUE: "From this day forward, my people will crouch and conspire and plot and plan for the inevitable day of Man's downfall, when your cities lie buried under radioactive rubble! And we will build our own cities in which there will be no place for humans except to serve our ends! And we shall found our own armies, our own religion, our own dynasty! And that day is upon you... now!"
BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (1973) - The grand finale, with radiated wingnut mutant humans commandeering a souped-up school bus as mankind's last stand against ape domination!
BEST SCENE: An incredible, explosive, effects-packed ultimate showdown between man and beast! Explosions! Lazers! Death! Adrenaline! Insanity! ARMAGEDDON!!!
BEST APE DIALOGUE: "Ape has killed ape!"
...Sure, these are just selected examples of the intense originality and excitement that's featured on screen. Rest assured that each movie features its own unique personality and crucial place in the primate puzzle. No films like these had ever existed before, and no series is ever likely to replicate the fearlessly diverse imagination of the APES quintology.
Today we stand in the looming shadow of another new APES installment, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. It's unknown whether it'll be entertaining or if it will stand as additional evidence to mankind's tragic de-evolution. If it's the latter, the only thing to do is pass the mantle of our planet's ownership to the next animal waiting hungrily for the crown. Pit the average American mind against a chimpanzee's or dolphin's and you'll see that we're in our final days.
Time is almost up. It's the duty of every self-respecting humanoid to immerse themselves in as much gorillarociousness as possible to decipher the warnings that early '70s Hollywood laid before us. The original five APES films weren't just groundbreaking entertainment; they were a warning. An alert to the impending end of civilization as we know it.
40 years later, we know the truth: The Ape-ocalypse is coming. BE READY.
The Alamo Drafthouse is holding a "Day of the Apes" marathon on Sunday, 5/29. PLANET OF THE APES and its 4 sequels will be shown back-to-back in glorious 35MM. That's over 8 hours of blazing guerilla warfare! For more info, head over here.