Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)






In the first of four sequels, an astronaut (James Franciscus) is sent to find out what happened. He goes through the same time warp and is promptly captured by the dominent residents of the ape planet. He escapes with the help of sympathetic chimp Zira (Kim Hunter). Then they discover human mutants living in the underground remains of New York, worshiping a doomsday missile. The head mutant is played by Victor Buono, who had just previously played the villain in a Matt Helm movie. Another of the worshippers is astronaut Taylor (Charlton Heston's cameo), now a bitter psychotic, who launches the weapon when apes enter the tunnel, destroying Earth at the end of the movie (the writers hadn't planned on any more sequels). Heston agreed to be in this sequel only if he was killed off in it.

Though Planet of the Apes had been quite a success, 20th Century Fox had fallen on hard times and gave this sequel a fairly small budget. Having the mutants living underground was seen as a way of saving money, using sets actually recycled from Hello Dolly. John Chambers again provided the ape masks and makeup. No Roddy McDowall in this one, though he returned for all the other sequels. Instead, Maurice Evens of Bewitched (Samantha's father) plays a bombastic chimp leader, and James Gregory (Dean Martin's boss in Matt Helm movies) as an ape General. Linda Harrison is a mute native girl Franciscus meets along the way. Rejected titles included "Planet Of The Apes Revisited" and "Planet Of The Men." Evans and Hunter had also been in the previous film, Planet Of The Apes. Hunter was reteamed with Roddy McDowall in the third Apes movie.

For Planet Of The Apes and its sequels, John Chambers invented a new, thin latex and foam-rubber ape mask that would allow the actors underneath to portray emotions without the need for special effects. It worked so well, he won the Academy Award for it; only the second Oscar awarded for "Outstanding Makeup Achievement." Before World War Two, he had worked making costume jewelry. When he was drafted, he adapted his skill to making prosthetic devices for amputees. After WW2, he stayed at the Veteran's Hospital and designed new rubber compounds and adhesives to replace missing ears, noses, eyes, even an artificial palate to restore speach for a patient, and a fully orbital glass eye that perfectly matched the real one.

In 1953 he took his talents to Hollywood, where he was hired by NBC as staff makeup man. Since most TV at the time was live, transformations had to be done quickly. In "The Battler" (1956) he transofrmed Paul Newman "from a cocky young boxer to a bleeding, battle-scarred veteran" during the live commercial break. In 1963, he completely disguised ten well-known movie stars in "The List Of Adrian Messenger." In the 1960s, he was doing makeup and monsters all over TV The Outer Limits (1963-65), Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea (1964-68), Lost In Space (1966-69), I-Spy (1965-68), The Wild Wild West (1965-70) and even designed Spock's ears for CBS's pilot episode of Star Trek. He was also supposed to do the monsters for Star Trek, but left over a salary dispute, so for the entire 3-year run of the series, NBC only had three pairs of Spock ears and kept them under lock & key when not in use (Star Trek went to NBC when CBS bought Lost In Space instead).

After winning an Oscar for Planet Of The Apes in 1968, he got an Emmy for the "Pickman's Model" episode of Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1971-72), and later another for transforming George C. Scott into a beast for Hallmark Hall Of Fame's "Beauty & the Beast" (1976/1977 season). Other movie achievements included: the robot/androids in "The Human Duplicator" (1965), John Wayne cutting off a man's fingers with an axe in "True Grit" (1969), and the realistic human head floating around in Jaws. Although fans don't consider the 1977 version of "Island Of Dr. Moreau" to be the best, they do agree that it has the most realistic monster-men, thanks to Chambers. His Makeup/masks for Planet Of The Apes was so good, it was used for all the sequels:
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (1971)
Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972), Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973)
And the Planet Of The Apes TV-series that starred Roddy McDowall, last seen on the SCIFI Channel
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Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved. That's my 2 worth