Planet of the Apes: the Coolest Sci-Fi Movies of All Time
by Paul Ace Diamond "Huggy" Blow
What are the top ten sci-fi movies of all time?
Fuggedaboutit – there’s actually only five sci-fi movies that matter. You know what I’m talkin’ about. That’s right: the Planet of the Apes series. When I was a youngster Planet of the Apes was my life. I loved those films – the makeup, the theme (talking apes), the characters – and I especially loved Roddy McDowell, my favorite actor back in the day, who starred in four of the five Apes flicks. Everything was Planet of the Apes for my brothers and I. We collected everything Ape that was made: action figures, puzzles, models, comic books, kites, etc. I even wrote my own Planet of the Apes epic, which should have been the sixth Apes film, however after writing 150 pages I ran out of steam. But enough of my rambling. Here’s the best sci-fi films in the history of man... and ape...
1) Beneath the Planet of the Apes
The first Apes sequel, made in 1971, is my favorite. This one has it all – ape armies, mutants, a blown-up New York City, Charleton Heston, and a half-naked girl (Nova). This movie combines several genres together: the western, science fiction, and war film. I still remember seeing the movie trailor for this film when I was a wee one – gorillas on horseback shooting machine guns – it horrified me and filled me with awe. My favorite scene is when gorilla General Ursus gives a speech campaigning for war and says, “The only good human... is a dead human!” This is the only Apes film made without Roddy McDowell.
2) Planet of the Apes
The original Apes film, made in 1969, based on the novel by Pierre Boulle. Astronaut Charleton Heston crash lands on a planet where Apes are the masters and humans are animals and the planet turns out to be Earth in the future. Best scene: when Heston is chased through Ape City, is caught in the gorillas’ net and says, “Get your hands off me, you damn, dirty ape!”
3) Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
The fourth Apes film, starring Roddy McDowell as Caesar (son of Cornelius and Zira from the first three Apes flicks). Set in the future when a disease has killed all dogs and cats, so humans keep apes as slaves. The apes are all dressed in coveralls, and led by Caesar revolt against the humans in a riot that destroys the city and leads to the eventual future where apes are the masters of the planet. Best scene: When hundreds of coverall-clad apes charge a police riot-squad line. Awesome!
4) Battle For the Planet of the Apes
The last Apes film made, this one also features a gorilla army (led by General Aldo, played by Claude Akins), a mutant army, and Roddy McDowell as Caesar. The mutant army marches on Ape City, and a huge battle is fought. Great action! I just love those gorilla uniforms. Best scene: when General Aldo is confronted by Caesar for killing Caesar’s son, and the other apes all chant, “Aldo killed ape! Aldo killed ape!”
5) Escape From the Planet of the Apes
The third Apes film. Cornelius (Roddy McDowell) and his wife Zira somehow launch into space in Taylor’s (Charleton Heston) spaceship just as the earth blows up in the final scene from Beneath the Planet of the Apes. They land in the U.S.A. in 1975 or so, and are imprisoned by the humans who fear them. Zira is pregnant and gives birth to the apes’ future hero and leader, Caesar. This film has no gorilla armies, so it’s not as exciting as the other Apes films, and really – how the hell did apes who ride horseback launch a sunken NASA spaceship back into space???
6) Planet of the Apes T.V. series
Sure, it’s not a movie, but the TV series starred Roddy McDowell as chimp Galen. More astronauts land on earth in the future (year 3085 A.D.) where they are chased by lots of hairy gorilla soldier apes led by General Urko (Mark Leonard, who played Spock’s father in Star Trek). This series lasted only one season, but still was the best TV series ever made.
7) Planet of the Apes cartoon series
I can’t remember the year this came out, but it was a Saturday morning cartoon show that sadly lasted just one season. Same premise as before – astronauts land on the earth in the future and are chased by the apes, but this time the apes actually drive cars! A cool cartoon – yes, the best carton series ever made.
That’s my sci-fi list. Now go APE OUT!
Rock star of the month, General Ursus