Saturday, June 21, 2008

Movie of the Week: Escape from the Planet of the Apes!

We're at the midpoint for the Planet of the Apes movie saga, with Escape from the Planet of the Apes! And once again, I'm "abusing" Wikpedia to get the plot summary from the Wiki page...

Super 8mm box art



The preceding film, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, ends with a nuclear weapon's destruction of all life on the apes' future Earth.

Escape from the Planet of the Apes begins by establishing that three apes (Cornelius, Zira, and Dr. Milo, played respectively by Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, and Sal Mineo) escaped the Earth's destruction. They have managed this by salvaging and repairing the astronaut Taylor's spaceship (which sank in the first movie) and piloting it through the shock wave of Earth's destruction sending the ship through a time warp back to the 20th century.

Belgian lobby card

The apes arrive on present-day Earth, splashing down on the Pacific coast. The navy hauls the ship to the beach, and the apes remove their helmets.


They are quickly transported to seclusion for examination and are later moved to a secluded area of the Los Angeles Zoo.


Milo is killed by a noncivilized gorilla who was agitated by an argument between himself, Zira, and Cornelius, leaving the two remaining apes under the observation of two scientists, Stephanie and Lewis. Both discover the apes' power of speech.


Meanwhile, a Presidential Commission has been formed to investigate the return of Taylor's spaceship and how the apes, which they already are aware are atypically intelligent, came to be aboard it. The apes then are brought before the Presidential Commission, where they reveal publicly their ability to speak, and are welcomed as guests.



The story of the plague that killed off all dogs and cats, as well as that of Ape slavery and subsequent uprising, is a possible retcon of both prior movies, wherein the apes do not know of their true past. Cornelius's claim that he had read history scrolls (kept secret from the masses) that detail the human downfall could be a way to rationalize the change, but fails to explain why he is as clueless as the rest of Ape society in the previous movies.


He may have had access to them, off screen, during the presumed months prior to Beneath, when Zaius made Cornelius his proxy, or while he and Zira were traveling in the spaceship. Another conflict is that, according to Cornelius, the day of Aldo speaking the word "no" is an annual observance in their society.

Italian poster

The apes become celebrities, being lavished with presents and media attention.


They are soon watched by a scientist, futuristic consultant Dr. Otto Hasslein (Eric Braeden), who discovers Zira is pregnant and fears for the future of the human race.


He is determined to force the issue, gives Zira a truth serum to get information out of her and convinces the Commission to have the apes taken for proper questioning. Both are questioned under numerous means; as a result, Hasslein learns for himself that Zira examined and operated on humans in the future.

Australian poster

Suspicion had already been aroused by Zira's letting slip, during public hearings, that she had dissected humans in the course of her work. More importantly, Hasslein learns how the human race will eventually meet its downfall and be dominated by simians, which will eventually lead to Earth's destruction.


After Cornelius accidentally kills an orderly (who had teased Zira) while imprisoned, Hasslein uses it as an illustration of the future danger the apes present and calls for the apes' execution. The U.S. President reluctantly orders that the unborn child's birth be terminated and that both be sterilized.

Spanish poster

Running for their lives, Cornelius and Zira (assisted by Stephanie and Lewis) find shelter in a circus run by Senor Armando (Ricardo Montalban). There Zira gives birth to a son, whom she names Milo (later known as Caesar).



Hasslein, knowing Zira will imminently give birth, orders a search of all circuses and zoos. As a result, Armando must send the apes away. The drama climaxes aboard a derelict ship in an abandoned ship yard. Hasslein tracks the apes down, and finds Zira resting with her infant.


The arrogant and ruthless Hasslein shoots Zira in cold blood after she refuses to hand over her infant and then proceeds to fire several shots into the infant; he is immediately shot to death by Cornelius, who holds a pistol, and falls overboard. After Cornelius kills Hasslein, he is shot by a Marine Corps sniper and falls to the deck of the ship. Stephanie and Lewis watch in horror as Zira tosses her dead baby over the side of the ship before crawling to lie with her husband and dying by his side.


The survivors, however, are unaware of the real fate of the infant ape; Cornelius, Zira, and Armando having switched babies before their final escape. Armando now watches over the infant Milo, who will grow up to become Caesar, the protagonist in the third and fourth sequels, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. The film ends by showing the baby ape Milo sitting in a cage, plaintively speaking the words "Mama? Mama?" with the voice of a human child.

Japanese movie program

This ending was purposely written so that the writers would have something with which to work, in case Fox Corporation wanted another sequel, although it was clearly stated in the DVD's bonus materials that this film was to be the end of the series and that Cornelius's speech should have made it full circle.

French poster

OK, back to me writing original stuff here. I'd forgotten that the whole disease that killed the cats and dogs thing, as well as the whole backstory of the Ape revolution, had been presented here! It does appear to be a continuity implant... but then, we don't really know for sure how much time elapsed between the first two movies, nor do we know how much time elapsed during the second movie!

German poster

The ape Milo must've been either a scientific genius, or like Cornelius, he ventured into things that were supposed to be forbidden to the Ape society... I suppose that it's possible that he came across printed materials that would've given him sufficient information to repair Taylor's ship, although I'd think it more likely that Brent's ship was discovered by Milo (perhaps with help from Cornelius and Zira), and pieces used from that to repair Taylor's ship. Given how damaged Taylor's ship was (plus the fact that it had sunk), it even seems unlikely it would've been repairable at all, but who knows?

UK poster

Perhaps the lake that Taylor's ship crashed in periodically goes dry, and that's how that ship was recovered... or perhaps there was a delayed response from the inflation devices that most reentry vehicles should have, and so, it bobbed back to the surface again after Taylor & company abandoned it. Either way, you can either buy into the idea that the ship was repairable (however that was managed) and let the series continue, or you can say you don't believe it, and not enjoy the rest of the saga.


The overall tone of the movie is rather jarring... especially towards the end, when Cornelius and Zira are hiding in the shipyard, and their subsequent killing. By this time, your sympathies are directly aligned with the two apes, and you watch the movie hoping against hope that they'll escape Hasslein and certain death... but it's to no avail. You'd even think that the series would've ended as a trilogy, until you discover there's a whole bait-and-switch that we weren't privy to... and baby Caesar has, indeed, survived... which makes Caesar the Apes equivalent of Moses (something that would be thematically continued from here).

It's no wonder that, in Conquest, the human race becomes the bad guys, and the apes are the heroes!

A few additional thoughts: The disease that killed off the dogs and cats... it's possible that Cornelius, Zira, and Milo (as well as baby Caesar) were carriers of the disease... simians aren't affected by it, obviously, but they could've carried it, and therefore, it wasn't just Caesar coming back in time to spark the ape revolution, but the disease itself brought back (then again, the question arises, where did it originate?).

It's entirely possible that the disease was already being developed as a potential biological weapon at this time, and despite the warnings of Cornelius, it was continued in development, and being accidentally released.

Next week... Caesar grows up, and leads the Conquest of the Planet of the Apes!


Cool Stuff: Potpourri! Wait, no, it's Spidey Stuff!

And let's get into the mix of stuff here, shall we?


First up, some nice box art for the 8mm version of "Son of Zorro"! I don't recall ever seeing any version of Zorro using a gun before...


Here's one of those AHI toys... it's a friction-powered Eagle Spaceship from Space:1999, making the ship a car, for all intents and purposes!


Oh, you know what this means... what was intended as potpourri is going to be all Spidey collectibles! This neat patch was apparently a 1970s gumball machine item.


What an odd angle to take a photo of these items! To the left, you see a Spidey Acrobat puppet toy -- one of the few acrobat puppet toys that makes sense for the character! On the right hand side, it's the Spidey gumball dispenser, marketed under the Secret Wars branding.


And here's yet another one of those Spider-Man cars... this is another AHI toy, and it appears you rev up the engine by pulling a string in the back, making it a super accellerator car, hmm?


Spider-Man figural bank, by Mego! It's amazing all the banks Mego produced, for a company we think of as an action figure manufacturer.


File this one under "What the heck are they thinking?" I don't know why anyone would think that an explorer set was something that should be marketed as a Spider-Man, Hulk or Captain America item... Indiana Jones? Absolutely. Doc Savage? You bet. But not those three Marvel characters!

Heck, Ka-Zar would've made more sense than those.


Corgi Spider-Bike... boxed!

I've had at least one of you comment that it's no wonder Spider-Man was always whining about money, what with all the cars, helicopters, motorcycles and the like he apparently had (based on the toys)... one of these days, I'll sort out all the Spidey vehicles and do a mega-post or slideshow of 'em!


Here's a Spider-Man bubble blower... and yet another Spider-Vehicle! Man, you'd think Spidey had Batman envy or something...


Yet another Spider-Man bubble toy, this one called a Bubble Machine... at least the figural part looks nice...


Yes! A camera for a character that uses a camera! This Spider-Man camera is pretty cool, if you ask me -- cooler than the digital Spidey cameras they're selling these days. And as a bonus, that's an Ideal Spider-Man Pocket Flix with it -- Ideal's answer to Kenner's movie viewer!


Spider-Man Colorforms!

Hmmm... you know, it just occurred to me... all the various characters they've done Colorforms of, I don't recall ever seeing a Six Million Dollar Man set! But I digress.


And we'll wrap up this edition with yet another Corgi Spider-Bike... but there's still more Spider-Man merchandise to come... next time!


Friday, June 20, 2008

Planet of the Apes Month: Cool Stuff!

It's Friday, and time for more Planet of the Apes Cool Stuff!


And we start off this installment with the Talking View-Master Planet of the Apes set, which was based on the TV series (it's too bad they didn't make sets of the original movies, eh?).


I've mentioned the Multiple Toymakers Planet of the Apes playset before, even showed a few pieces from it... here's the whole thing, with most (if not all) of the original packaging! Until the Megos, this was the only POTA playset available.


How's this for an obscure, but defintely cool, Planet of the Apes item? It's a Planet of the Apes sleeping bag, and it's the only one I've seen offered so far! I wish I could've afforded it...


Here's another of those POTA Mix 'n Mold kits... this one being Cornelius! It's surprising to me that these are only appearing in the package... I would've thought that one that had been molded would've shown up by now!


I've no idea if this Dr. Zaius keychain was a US item or not... pretty cool, though! I have yet to see one in this style with any of the other characters.


I have no idea how old or new this poster is - I suspect it's pretty recent - but it was too cool not to grab the photo of and post it here!


Here's one of Power Records' Planet of the Apes albums, and I suspect it's one that's based on the animated series, because none of the story names there is "Dawn of the Tree People," which was one of the live-action series-based records they produced!


Here's a Planet of the Apes pinball game, but the header card doesn't look like an AHI one... but it could well be an AHI item, for all I know!


This is definitely an AHI item... the Galen Paratrooper!


Been a while since I posted a photo of any movie viewer... here's a Planet of the Apes one made by Chemtoy (who I believe made others in this style, given that the movie viewer itself looks the same as all the other ones I've seen).


I posted a photo of the Mego Astronaut in the box before, but here he is with his helmet off! I believe the figure and outfit were both recycled from the Action Jackson line, but without the "AJ" insignia.


This photo is a bit washed out, but you can pretty much tell what Japan's Mego Soldier Apes looked like in the box from it!


I showed a photo of a loose AHI POTA Zing Wing earlier this month... here it is in the package!


Here's a boxed Mego Galen for you to feast your eyes on... you know, I'm half-surprised Mego didn't also try to sell the same figure as Caesar, too!


Note that this TV astronaut (I forget, is this Burke or Virdon?) was at least offered for sale in the generic astronaut box... I don't know why they didn't make a different box for them!


If you're a fan of the Plaid Stallions website, you probably saw a catalog page posted there last month with a whole display box of these AHI Planet of the Apes squirtguns... but the catalog it was scanned from didn't show the squirt guns all that well! So here they are... Zaius and Galen, ready to spit at your foes!


Yes, your eyes are not decieving you... that is an AHI Planet of the Apes helicopter, even though such a vehicle was never seen in any Apes movie (at least, not outside of Escape or Conquest!).


The seller of this item called it a Planet of the Apes walkie-talkie, but by the end of the month, you'll see this was part of a package of several toys!


OK, I've shown you the plush Dr. Zaius, and the soft puppet Dr. Zaius... and now, here's a beanbag Dr. Zaius, decades before Beanie Babies!


Yes, this bizarre sunhat with built-in sunglasses was a licensed Planet of the Apes item... looks rather goofy to me!


Oh, here it is already... that wasn't just a walkie-talkie, it was a pellet-shooting walkie talkie! I have no idea why there's a magnet-shaped thing in there, too.

And that's where we'll end it for today!