Film Review: Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973)

SYNOPSIS:

“After conquering the oppressive humans in Conquest Of 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.” (courtesy IMDB)

REVIEW:

Largely derided as the least of of the five original Planet Of The Apes (1968) films, Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973) focuses on character rather than the dark action of Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972). We are now in a post-nuclear era and Caesar is leader of an ape society established in their own ape city after the expected destruction of human civilisation in World War Three. The apes become involved in a war with a group of mutants living in the ruins of a nearby city who have joined forces with militant gorillas, and the battle of the title is between Caesar’s community and the mutants.

This fifth and final film was again directed by J. Lee Thompson, and written by husband-and-wife team John William Corrington and Joyce Hooper Corrington, who were responsible for shredding…I mean, re-writing Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend for Chuck Heston’s Omega Man (1970). Although considered the worst of the bunch, Battle For The Planet Of The Apes features the most intriguing casting of them all.

Not only do we have the usual suspects Roddy McDowall and Natalie Trundy as his loving wife Lisa, but we also have:

* John Huston – One of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers, also helped make Anjelica Huston.
* Lew Ayres – An amazing 150 roles from All Quiet On The Western Front (1930) to Buck Rogers In The 25th Century and Hart To Hart.
* Claude Akins – A television staple in shows like Combat, Laredo, The Waltons, B.J. And The Bear, The Misadventures Of Sheriff Lobo.
* David Gerrold – One of America’s best science fiction authors, one of Star Trek‘s most influential contributors, creator of tribbles, and writer of the novelisation of Battle For The Planet Of The Apes.
* Paul Williams – One of America’s greatest songwriters could also be seen in Phantom Of The Paradise (1975), The Muppet Movie (1979), and The Loved One (1965), in which he played a ten-year-old boy…at the age of 25!
* John Landis – One of Hollywood’s genuinely funny filmmakers who directed and starred in his first ever feature film that very same year, Schlock! The Banana Monster (1973), in an ape costume built by makeup maestro Rick Baker.

Also worthy of special note is actor Severn Darden, who reprises his role of Governor Kolp, first seen in Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes. Originally a comedian out of Chicago, Darden was a major influence on the comedy stylings of The Second City. Darden appeared in various movies and television series, but his best performance is probably in The President’s Analyst (1967) as Kropotkin. An early film entitled LUV (1967) in which he played a drug dealer alongside Jack Lemmon, Peter Falk, Elaine May and Nina Wayne. He was also a semi-regular in The Monkees television show and the respected-but-befuddled college dean in Real Genius (1985). Oh, I’ve digressed again, haven’t I?

Back to the subject at hand, the titular battle in Battle For The Planet Of The Apes is well-handled but there’s an air of pointlessness about the entire film, as if everyone knows that this is the last attempt to wring a few remaining dollars out of the Planet Of The Apes phenomenon. Typical Hollywood. Enough crying over lost opportunities, please join me next week when I have another opportunity to give your cinematic sensibilities a damn good thrashing with the ugly stick for…Horror News! Toodles!

Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973)

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About Nigel Honeybone

Wee Willie"Nigel Honeybone's debut was as Hamlet's dead father, portraying him as a tall posh skeleton. This triumph was followed in Richard III, as the remains of a young prince which he interpreted as a tall posh skeleton. He began attracting starring roles. Henry VIII was scaled down to suit Honeybone's very personalised view of this famous king. Honeybone suggested that perhaps he really was quite skeletal, quite tall, and quite posh. MacBeth, Shylock and Othello followed, all played as tall, skeletal and posh, respectively. Considering his reputation for playing tall English skeletons, many believed that the real Honeybone inside to be something very different, like a squat hunchback perhaps. Interestingly enough, Honeybone did once play a squat hunchback, but it was as a tall posh skeleton. But he was propelled into the film world when, in Psycho (1960), he wore women's clothing for the very first time. The seed of an idea was planted and, after working with director Ed Wood for five years, he realised the unlimited possibilities of tall posh skeletons who dressed in women's clothing. He went on to wear women's clothing in thirteen major motion pictures, including the Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and Star Wars (1977), heartbreaking as the remains of Aunt Beru. With the onslaught of special effects came the demise of real actors in these sorts of roles. After modeling for CGI skeletons in Total Recall (1990) and Toys (1992), the only possible step forward for a tall posh skeleton was television, imparting his knowledge and expertise of the arts. As well as writing for the world's best genre news website HORROR NEWS, Nigel Honeybone is currently signed to star in a new series for television presenting the finest examples of B-grade horror. THE SCHLOCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is seen on Friday nights at 10.30pm on TVS Television Sydney, and where ever good Youtube downloads are available." (Fantales candy wrapper circa 2007)

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