In 1970, two years after the blockbuster "Planet of the Apes", producer Arthur P. Jacobs and Fox brought us the next chapter in the ape saga, BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES.
James Franciscus stars as astronaut Brent, whose traveled the same time wormhole to end up on future earth and the simian ruled planet.
After nearly bankrupting 20th Century Fox two years before with the box office bomb "Doctor Dolittle", Jacobs budget was tight. Combined with the fact that Charlton Heston would only agree to reprise his role as Taylor on the conditions he would die in the film and would only be in it for about 15 minutes, Jacobs does a decent job, for awhile.
The good news is that the filmmakers have a good leading man in Franciscus, beautiful Linda Harrison back as Nova, some decent and interesting scenes underground where they find Radio City Music Hall, the New York public library.
Not so good is a clumsy gorillas/war versus chimpanzees/peace story line, a very silly last 40 minutes with mind melding nuclear mutant humans conjuring up more illusions that an 80's David Copperfield and not enough lines for Kim Hunter as Zira. Roddy McDowell sat this one film out and his replacement as Cornelius isn't nearly as good.
It's short, pretty fast and pretty cheap looking in some of the crowd scenes, where the budget cuts have extras in cheap over-the-head gorilla masks instead of John Chambers incredible make-up.
It all comes to a decent, explosive (to say the least) conclusion to which you can't imagine they could come up with another sequel. They fooled everyone with coming up with the best sequel the following year with 'Escape from the Planet of the Apes", my favorite Apes film ever.
BENEATH is early 70's b-movie fun and pretty decent considering its budget limitations. We'll give it a B-. Killer 70's movie poster artwork!