Film & Water #55 – Planet of the Apes



Rob Kelly welcomes back Bright Eyes, aka Mike Gillis (RADIO VS. THE MARTIANS) to talk the one, the only, the original PLANET OF THE APES! Go ahead and listen, but be careful--you may not like what you find!

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15 responses to “Film & Water #55 – Planet of the Apes

  1. Great episode! Mike blew my mind with the comparisons to Trek. Taylor as the Anti-Kirk…genius!!!

    I KNEW what the stingers HAD to be! Well done Rob.


    1. Of course, Charlton Heston went a bit nuts, when he did the film. While attending a kid’s party, he saw the balloons, fell to the floor and screamed, “You maniacs! You blew them up! Damn you; damn you all to hell……………” 🙂

  2. With all the Star Trek/Apes comparisons in this episode, I’d recommend the recent miniseries “The Primate Directive” from IDW & Boom. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable adventure for fans of both franchises & each issue has an insightful essay by comedian Dana Gould. (

    Gould is the ultimate Apes fan. He and his family lived in Roddy McDowall’s house and has a very nice story when he encountered Heston as a fellow guest on “Politically Incorrect” back in the 1990s. To hear all about it check the Damn Dirty Geeks podcast:

    I think Mad Men best summed up the impact Apes had on a generation of moviegoers in the episode when Don Draper took his son to the film:

    1. I can vouch for the Trek/PotA crossover. Its really very good and captures the heart of both series, and uses their contrasts to great effect. You can really hear the actor’s voices in it.

      As for more Boom Studios Apes stuff, the main series they did was wonderful, about the time where human/ape relations are breaking down after the assassination of the Lawgiver and as a new generation of humans are starting to be born with speech.

      Also, the two minis and ongoing by Beckho and Hardman, starting with Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes, Exile on the Planet of the Apes, and then Planet of the Apes Cataclysm. Just top notch stuff and probably my favorite Apes expanded universe stuff.

      Also, check out the illustrated novel Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes by Andrew Gaska, put out by Archaia. It’s got an awesome Jim Steranko cover. It’s the events of the first movie (and a half) from the perspective of minor characters including Dr. Milo, astronaut Landon and a gorilla cop. Worth checking out.

    2. Ah, the days when you could stay in the theater and watch the film again…..

      and smoke in a theater, poisoning all around you!

  3. I love this movie and this original series. This is definitely a ‘watch 50 times’ movie. Every time I see it, I enjoy it. And yes, the ending still works even though I know it is happening.

    Now a personally anecdote. My wife’s family is pretty quiet, definitely not into any of the things I am, and I am pretty sure they wonder why her daughter married a nut.

    About 15 years ago we took a family trip with my in-laws to the Statue of Liberty.

    When we got off the boat, I dropped to my knees and cursed the heavens like Heston. “You bastards!!! You blew it up!!! Damn you all to Hell!!!!” It was awesome …

    But then I looked at my in-laws and their horrified faces. That odd mix of fear, terror, confusion, and maybe a twinge of dismay (that I was part of this family). They had never seen Planet of the Apes, didn’t know the ending (how can you not know the ending), and of course would never do anything like that … EVER.

    I then had to sheepishly explain everything.

    A great story to retell.

  4. So far, Mike Gillis has talked about Dawn of the Dead, the Aliens franchise, POTA, and the Blues Brothers (still my favorite episode of the show.) It feels like he’s reading the favorites wall of yours truly’s abandoned MySpace page. What next? Pulp Fiction? Dead Alive? Big Trouble in Little China?

    Planet of the Apes is the greatest science fiction franchise of all time, and one of the best movies in the history of the genre. It’s the kind of sci-fi your atomic age dad that only watched westerns and cop shows could still get into (and your nuclear mom will still weep by the end of Escape.) Despite being considered a “kids’ movie” at the time, its pacing, themes, acting and cinematography are very adult in the best sense of the word. For anyone with a mature attention span, it is powerfully engrossing, and I loved it almost as much as a child holding my garage sale Doctor Zaius beanbag doll as I do as an adult able to fully appreciate its richness. POTA speaks so intensely to the politic climate and concerns of the revolutionary time that birthed it while still being universal and valuable to modern audiences. As a pessimist, the tragic nature of the original films resonate with me more than the comparative cotton candy of Roddenberry and Lucas, so I see more of myself in Taylor and Cornelius than anyone in the Federation or Rebel Alliance. I also admire how each of the first four movies have a definite, highly punctuated grand finale that could have capped the entire franchise with each installment. It gave each film immense weight– an Inarguable reason to exist as cinema. Even the rebooted POTA is stronger and more vital than its fellow legacy franchises. POTA can be enjoyed as mere fantasy, but it also reflects the human condition and undying concerns in a way other popcorn franchises do not. Finally, the original Apes most assuredly has one of film’s greatest endings, which still gives me chills just thinking about it, never mind when I see it on screen. Those lapping waves splash against my soul.


      (just kidding, but not really)

      One of the big reasons I push so hard against mainstream superhero characters being used in overwhelming dark directions is that so much of the non-superhero fiction I enjoy is so dark, morose downbeat and even…depressing?

      I just need the variety in my fiction diet or I’d lose my mind.

      1. Same here; superheroes were supposed to be figures of hope, in an oppressive world. Even Batman is a symbol of hope for the embattled citizens of Gotham. I don’t want Silence of the Lambs, with people in spandex; leave that for crime and detective comics. When you can find them..

  5. Where to start? This is one of my favorite films. I’m kind of assuming Mike called dibs on any episodes about the sequels, but if he didn’t I’d be up for it (I never miss a chance to rant about how Beneath is one of the worst sequels ever made while Conquest is one of the most criminally overlooked.)

    You don’t need me to talk about how great this movie is, you guys already did that. However I do want to talk about Mike’s little side ramble about how his generation (which I’m pretty sure is also mine) was more open to older entertainment than today’s youth. Basically I just want to explain why he’s wrong. I forget the exact wording but he said something to the effect of “they need to look beyond their own childhood.” Except, for you this movie WAS your childhood. Just because it predates your childhood doesn’t make it more than that.

    The thing to keep in mind is that when you and I were kids, cable TV and the idea of hundreds of channels was still fairly new. And these channels needed to fill their schedules and they only had so much original material (heck, some had no original material at all.) So they filled it with old TV shows and old movies. And thus our generation became awash in the entertainment of the generation before us. There are tons of people my age who grew up on things like The Brady Bunch, despite not being born until the thing went off the air, because it was in endless syndication. Today, the entertainment peddlers have been making their own material that even if they have to just fill time they don’t have to reach further back than 10 years. Today’s kids simply have more stuff made for them that is actually from right now. We only had so much, we burned through it quickly and then we had to dive into entertainment from yesteryear.

    Almost all the old movies that I love were ones that I saw when I was young. The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man films, and The Planet of the Apes are just a few examples. But that didn’t truly open my mind up to old films in general. As much as I love those movies, when it comes to seeing something I haven’t seen before I’m far more likely to watch something recent before something old. This last point may or may not apply for you, but hopefully I articulated my earlier point well enough to still be COMPLETELY RIGHT, GOD DAMMIT! SOMEBODY LISTEN TO ME!!!!

    1. Is Conquest underrated? Everyone I know rates 1,3, and 4 in different orders as the best with 2 and 5 always angling for worst (Burton is apocryphal.) Conquest is my buddy Mister Fixit’s favorite, and consistently my third favorite of the entire franchise, with the new cycle having to settle for competing in the space behind the classic trio.

      1. I didn’t say “underrated,” I said “overlooked” and that word choice was very deliberate. I think people who see it know it’s good, but most people haven’t seen it because (let’s be honest) the idea of sequels to that first classic film are kind of silly. I think to mainstream audiences, the idea that a 4th film in a 60s sci-fi series could be good or great is a laughable one so most either don’t know it exists are don’t care to check it out.

  6. My first exposure to POTA was the tv series; but, it was a few years before I saw the movie, on a Saturday afternoon tv movie feature. It was totally awesome.. That music was chilling and it made the scenes even creepier. The Apes weren’t a surprise, due to the pre-exposure to the tv show. Amazingly, even though I knew the story was the future, that final scene still had impact.

    It is a bit shocking to hear such cynicism coming out of Heston’s mouth. It’s a theme across his other sci-fi films (and the era, apart from Star Trek). Still, this is the guy that was rah rah Ronald Reagan and played the biblical heroes. That added a lot of impact to things

    I only got to see the first three films on tv, for many years. No one seemed to want to show Conquest and Battle. To me, they were these mysterious entries, only seen as still photos in a book about sci-fi movies and the covers of the novelizations (which you used to see in bookstores of the era). It took the video store to finally bring those movies to me, only to see they weren’t quite as epic as they were in my head. Conquest suffers from budget, but gives it a good go. Battle looked like it was done on the tv show’s budget and it really, really suffers for it (not to mention a muddled story).

    The “old man” discussion was quite interesting to me. Speaking as one of the, apparently, elder generation around here, you do start to believe Bill Cosby (no, not about that…) that kids have brain damage. You wonder how they cannot see the coolness in the great films of the past, of any generation, or how some auto-tuned noise can be called music. You never quite pinpoint where it happens; but, at some point in life, you reach a point where you are no longer part of the youth demographic and you don’t see things the way they do. I once had a discussion with one of my youngsters, when I worked for Barnes & Noble. I mentioned not having a cell phone (then) and they were flabbergasted. “How do you make a cal?” “I have a phone, at home.” “Yeah, but you can’t call your friends when you are out shopping!” Why would I want to?” “Well, how else do you talk to them?” “Oh, I don’t know, face to face?” It went on like that. I explained to them what it meant to actually “dial” a telephone and what a party-line was. What it was like to grow up without cell phones, and home computers (for a good chunk of early life). For me, the point I knew I was old was when I heard a favorite song used as nostalgic advertising. I was officially old. The icing on the cake was going to my 20th high school reunion and seeing my classmates with teenaged children (including one who was going to be a senior, at our old school). I think that is when the grey hair (what hair there is) gained the upper hand.

    I had the Dr Zaius and a gorilla soldier Mego figure. For one Christmas, we went to Florida and had Christmas in a motel room. I got the Evel Knievel stunt van, to go along with my doll and stunt cycle. My mom had packed the motorcycle; but, didn’t find the Evel Knievel doll. Instead, she brought Dr Zaius. It was a surreal idea; Dr Zaius as a dardevil motorcycle stunt rider.

    ps. For Heston on SNL, you can’t beat the 80s, when he guest hosted and the opening sketch. This was the era of Oral Roberts claiming he needed to raise $3 million or God was going to call him to Heaven. Cheston portrayed God, coming for the money. I believe Randy Quaid was Roberts. he drops to his knees and starts praying, “Our Lord, who art in my office…” Excellent sketch.

    pps. Roberts didn’t raise the money and didn’t ascend to heaven. Funny how that happened…

  7. All five POTA movies got played on weekend UHF marathons when I was growing up, so there were no lost episodes in my childhood (but the cartoons and TV series were hard to come by.) The all five weeknights marathon was reserved for V once a year on Houston’s channel 26.

  8. I know I might be stating the obvious, but…
    The narrator for the trailer should sound familiar. Especially to fans of “Challenge of the Super Friends”.

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