Retroplex Cinema: The Planet Of The Apes Saga Part 2 - The Sequels

Our 3 part look back at the Planet Of The Apes saga continues.  The reboot film, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes hits theaters today and as it does, Retroplex Cinema is revisiting one of the greatest franchises of all time.

Part 1  -Planet Of The Apes
Part 2 - The Sequels
Part 3 The Television Show & Cartoon

Planet Of The Apes was a huge success at the box office.  It would go on to spawn four sequels and become one of Hollywood's biggest franchises of all time. Here is a look at the four sequels spawned from Planet Of The Apes!

Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970):  The first sequel made healines when it was released because Charlton Heston was always against doing one.  The studio though did not know how to sell the film so eventually they convinced him to at least appear in part of the film.  (Spoiler Warning) He shows up towards the end and Heston insisted his character be killed so he would not return for anymore films!

Synopsis: Astronaut Brent is sent to rescue Taylor but crash lands on the Planet of the Apes, just like Taylor did in the original film. Taylor has disappeared into the Forbidden Zone so Brent and Nova try to follow and find him. He discovers a cult of humans that fear the Apes' latest military movements and finds himself in the middle. Tension mounts to a climactic battle between ape and man deep in the bowels of the planet.

The film was again a success at the box office with almost 19 million in ticket sales and of course another sequel would be on the way!

Escape From the Planet Of The Apes (1971): With the Earth destroyed at the end of the second film, the writers had to be creative with the third film in the series.  The film deals with many social issues of the time as well as taking the films in a lighter direction with a little more comedy, despite the dark ending of the film!  Actor Roddy McDowell returns to the series for a third round as Cornelius and really becomes the face of the franchise over the years!

Synopsis: Following the events in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes", Cornelius and Zira flee back through time to 20th Century Los Angeles, where they face fear and persecution similar to what Taylor and Brent suffered in the future, and discover the origins of the stream of events that will shape their world.

The film made 12.3 million at the box office and the franchise still had legs.  The film played well with family audiences due to it's lighter tone.  Production would begin soon on a fourth film in the series, in which the saga would take a darker turn!

Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972): The history of Conquest may be the most interesting of all the Apes films.   The film takes a much darker direction as we see the rise of the apes as they rebel against the humans!  The new film Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is inspired by this installment of the saga! The film is most noted for changes to the original opening and original ending!  The ending was changed to be less violent in order to get a G rating.

Synopsis: Cornelius and Zira's son Caesar leads apes to revolution in this installment of the apes saga. Dogs and cats have been wiped out by a plague and now apes are household pets that are treated like slaves. Caesar has the intelligence to fight this oppression.  He leads the apes in a violent rebellion against the humans taking over the planet!

Below are looks at the original opening and ending.  If you have not seen the film then you may not understand this exactly, but we wanted to include it because it's important to the history of the film!

Original opening: Of the five original films, Conquest is the only entry filmed in Todd-AO35, (the other Apes pictures were filmed in Panavision). Conquest also is the only Apes film without a pre-title sequence. The script describes a pre-title scene where police on night patrol shoot an escaped ape and discover that his body is covered with welts and bruises as evidence of severe abuse (in a later scene depicting Armando's interrogation, Governor Breck refers to the "ape that physically assaulted his master," thereby prompting MacDonald to retort that the attack must have been the result of severe mistreatment). Why the scene was cut is unknown, although John Jakes does depict it in the first chapter of his novelization of the movie. It was also visualized in the Marvel Comics adaption of the film in the early 1970s (which was probably based directly on the screenplay and not on the final edit of the actual film). The Blu-Ray unrated version (which restored many other graphic scenes) does not contain the pre-credit opening. There is no evidence that the sequence in the script was ever included in any cut of the film.

Original Ending:  Caesar has Breck marched out to be executed. MacDonald appeals to Caesar to show mercy to his former persecutor. Caesar ignores him, and declares henceforth apes everywhere will repeat the revolt that happened in the Ape Management complex. The revolution will lead inevitably to Mankind's fall after which the apes will dominate the Earth and enslave the few remaining humans. Breck and all the other humans are then beaten to death as the film abruptly ends.
     Test audiences reacted badly to the original ending. The studio re-edited the ending with existing footage. The plot twist of the chimpanzee Lisa saying the word "No" was added to the film via dubbing a new voice-over and Roddy McDowall was brought back to record new dialogue. The new ending allowed Caesar to show some degree of mercy and to leave the audience with the hope of peaceful co-existence between apes and humans. This ending was also changed in hopes of getting a G rating from the MPAA as the previous films had. Nevertheless, the film was given a PG rating.
      The 5-disc Blu-ray Disc that is available contains the original and theatrical cut of Conquest. It contains more footage of the graphic violence cut during the climatic battle scenes and the original dark ending.  You can order that set right here!  Once again it was a success and a sequel would come!  The final battle for the Planet Of The Apes!

Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973): The final film in the saga would take place ten years after Conquest.   After conquering the Earth, ape leader Caesar wants the ruling apes and enslaves humans to live in peace.Of course it doesn't turn out this way.  The budget was cut tremendously for the final film and it shows.  The ape make up is very sub standard and the set design suffers as well.  None the less the film turned out decent and is a favorite of many in the series.

Synopsis: After conquering the oppressive humans in "Conquest for the Planet of the Apes", Caesar must now keep the peace among the humans and apes. Gorilla General Aldo views things differently, and tries to cause an ape civil war. In the meantime, other human survivors learn of the ape city, and decide they want to take back civilization for themselves, thus setting the stage of warring ape factions and humans

The film is also noted for its drastically different extended cut.  The extended cut originally aired on television back in the 70's and recently is available on the Blu-Ray discs.  

Here is a look at the extended cut of Battle For The Planet Of The Apes featuring several extended or deleted scenes.
    One scene takes place after Aldo chases teacher Abe, where MacDonald reminds him why humans should not say "no" to an ape.
Another scene towards the end of the film shows the beginnings of the House of Mendez cult, as the humans in the city are about to fire off the doomsday bomb (as seen in Beneath the Planet of the Apes), but decide not to, as it would threaten the world. In Beneath, one can see many signs of Mendez in the Forbidden Zone, a hymnal on the pipe organ reading "Mendez II", busts of past leaders of the mutant society (such as Mendez XIV), and the mutant leader in Beneath is also named Mendez. It is clear that Governor Mendez is a different leader than his predecessors, Kolp and Breck, since he is more sympathetic to the apes; so long as they do not invade their territory.

Additional scenes are as follows:
-- Near the end of the opening credits, the score continues to its original ending for 25 seconds, with extra footage of General Aldo approaching on a horse.
-- The chase of the teacher of the apes is longer by 20 seconds.
-- The mutant chief is walking around in his HQ, and has more dialogue.
-- The entry into the ruins of the Forbidden City of the ape scout party with Caesar is 40 seconds longer, with more dialogue.
-- The escape from the Forbidden City shows more footage and dialogue involving the apes.
-- The scene where Cornelius is "shot" by a human boy begins slightly earlier, making it clear that the shooting is a game — which makes more sense, since no mutant party had yet even approached the ape city.
-- DELETED SCENE: In this edited scene, Governor Kolp tells his lieutenant to fire an atomic missile on Ape City when he gives the signal.
-- The mutant assault is 45 seconds longer. In this sequence there were three more smaller cuts that reduced the battle scene by 40 additional seconds, and originally there was no musical score.
-- The scene where the Governor Kolp calls "Sergeant York" is missing.
-- There are additional shots and dialogue before the mutants lay down the smoke screen.
-- 355 more seconds of the battle were cut.
-- The scene where Aldo kills Governor Kolp and his followers in the school bus has been restored.
-- The fight between Aldo and Caesar is longer.
-- DELETED SCENE: The new Governor Mendez talks the mutant lieutenant out of firing the atomic missile. As they argue, they discover it is the ALPHA-OMEGA bomb. Only with this sequence reinserted the odd cut from the Caesar conversation involving the humans to the ending sequence makes a more sense.

The film was a success at the box office despite its noticeable flaws and the Planet Of The Apes franchise would not be dead!  In next week's final part of our look at the Planet Of The Apes saga we will look at the television show and cartoon  as well as more neat stuff from the Planet Of The Apes saga!