May 25th: Calm like a nuke.

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115. Beneath the Planet of the Apes (Ted Post, 1970)

After the events of the first film this sequel follows on directly – showing Charlton Heston’s astronaut, Taylor, with his squeeze, Nova, heading into the ‘forbidden zone’. Chuck falls through some weird wall and disappears. Cue the arrival onto the planet of Brent played by James Franciscus, another astronaut who looks a lot like Charlton Heston, an awful lot like him. Brent meets Nova and she shows him the Ape City. Then, after his capture and a bit of assistance from returning liberal ape Zira he makes his way to the site of Chuck’s disappearance. Then things get a bit weird. Brent is captured by an underground race of telepathic mutated humans who worship an active atomic bomb. Yep, that’s a whole plate load of weird.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes is pretty damn interesting as far as sequels go. It makes a genuine attempt to say something on a number of issues. There is a go at political ideologies, the civil rights movement, the campaign for nuclear disarmament and gender politics. There’s no massive insight on display but it shoe-horns enough interesting bits and pieces in to keep a wry smile on your face.

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