Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cool Stuff: Miscellanea!

As much as I like to try to have all the items in a "Cool Stuff" posting to be somehow related, occasionally, I have to do a potpourri type post. This is one of them!


Here's the box art for the 8mm version of Star Wars, and boy, was it condensed! I remember when I was a teenage geek, and was in a sci-fi club based in Tacoma. One weekend, there was a mini-SF convention being held somewhere in the Seattle area at a high school, which a group of us went up to. Among other things, they showed a copy of this 8mm or super 8mm version of Star Wars.

Of course, you have to remember that back then, in the late 1970s, there was no home video market to speak of, so this was about the only way you could see movies at home when you wanted to! Oh, sure, there was cable then, but you were at the mercy of their programmers.

Anyway, after watching this through forward, someone had the brilliant idea to show it backwards... which made the condensed version even more fun to watch! See the Death Star come together! Watch Ben Kenobi rise from the dead to fight Darth Vader! Watch the Millenium Falcon flying backwards!


Here's a bunch of random Superhero PVC figures that I wish was in a larger size so you could see more details!


Superheroes Mittens! I'm guessing there was a Batman set as well as the Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, Hulk and Superman ones... maybe even an Aquaman one?

OK, it's a short posting this time around... but next time, Superman goodies!


Movie of the Week: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes!

Borrowing once again the plot summary from the Wikipedia entry...

conquestpota conquestpota_australian.JPG

Building upon the description given by Cornelius and Zira before the Presidential Committee in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), the previous film, a disease killed the world's cats and dogs, leaving humans with no pet animals. In time, humans noticed the apes' capacity to learn and adapt; thus they taught them to perform menial household tasks. Moreover, by 1991, the United States of America has collapsed and devolved to autonomous city-states whose society is oppressive and fascist in culture, of uniformed classes and castes, based upon ape slave labour.


Armando (Ricardo Montalbán) and Caesar, a young chimpanzee horseback rider in Armando's circus, visit Central City to distribute flyers advertising the Circus's arrival to town. Armando warns the chimpanzee to be careful in the city; should anyone learn his identity as the child of Cornelius and Zira, it would mean their deaths.


Walking the streets, they see apes cleaning streets, delivering packages, et cetera, and are disgusted by the atrocities done to disobedient apes. Seeing an ape being beaten and drugged, Caesar shouts: Lousy human bastards!; quickly, Armando takes responsibility for the exclamation, explaining to the policemen, who were beating the other ape, that it was he who shouted, not his chimpanzee; the surrounding crowd become agitated with disbelief, Caesar runs away; Armando follows.


Hiding in a stairway, Armando says he will go to the authorities and settle the matter, by bluffing. Meantime, Caesar must hide among his own kind (in a cage of orangutans from Borneo), and soon finds himself being trained for slavery through violent conditioning; he then is sold at auction to Governor Breck, the head of Central City.


Gov. Breck names the ape by allowing him to name himself from a bible handed to him; the chimpanzee's finger rests upon the name Caesar. So christened, Caesar is then put to work by Gov. Breck's chief aide, Mr. MacDonald (descended from slaves), who sympathizes with the apes to the thinly veiled disgust of his boss, Gov. Breck.


Meanwhile, Armando is being interrogated by Inspector Kolp, who suspects his "circus ape" is the child of the two civilized apes from the future. Kolp's assistant puts Armando under an authenticator machine that psychologically forces people to be truthful. Rather than confessing, Armando commits suicide by jumping through a window. Learning of the death of his human pater familias, the only human he loved, Caesar loses faith in human kindness and begins plotting simian rebellion.

Yugoslavian program

Secretly, Caesar teaches the combat arts to the other apes, mostly gorillas and chimpanzees (orangutans are not seen fighting) and bids them gather weapons such as knives, guns, and blowtorches. Yet, Gov. Breck learns from Inspector Kolp that the manifest of the vessel that delivered Caesar lists no chimpanzees.


Suspecting Caesar is the ape the police are hunting, Breck's men arrest Caesar and electrically torture him until he speaks, thus betraying his identity. Hearing the confession, Breck orders Caesar's immediate death; Caesar survives his execution; MacDonald, feigning over-sensitivity to torture, reduces the electrical power of the machine; Caesar pretends to have been electrocuted. Once Gov. Breck leaves, convinced he has eliminated the simian threat to mankind, Caesar kills the torturer who electrocuted him, and proceeds to rebel against Gov. Breck and Central City. Previously, MacDonald had learned that Caesar is the articulate ape whom humans thought mythical.


Caesar leads an ape revolt against Central City. The apes are victorious after killing most of the riot police sent to kill them.


After burning into Gov. Breck's command post and killing most of the personnel, Caesar has Breck marched out to be executed. MacDonald appeals to Caesar's humanity to show mercy to his former persecutor.


Caesar ignores him, and in a rage declares: "Where there is fire, there is smoke. And in that smoke, from this day forward, my people will crouch, and conspire, and plot, and plan for the inevitable day of Man's downfall - the day when he finally and self-destructively turns his weapons against his own kind. The day of the writing in the sky, when your cities lie buried under radioactive rubble! When the sea is a dead sea, and the land is a wasteland out of which I will lead my people from their captivity! And we will build our own cities, in which there will be no place for humans except to serve our ends! And we shall found our own armies, our own religion, our own dynasty! And that day is upon you NOW!"

Italian "Photobusta" posters - cool, aren't they?

Lisa, later Caesar's wife, voices her objection: "N— N— N— No... "; other than Caesar, she is the first ape to speak. Caesar reconsiders — ordering the apes to lower their rifles just as they are about to butt-stroke Gov. Breck to death — saying: "But now... now we will put away our hatred. Now we will put down our weapons. We have passed through the night of the fires, and those who were our masters are now our servants. And we, who are not human, can afford to be humane. Destiny is the will of God, and if it is man’s destiny to be dominated, it is God’s will that he be dominated with compassion, and understanding. So, cast out your vengeance. Tonight, we have seen the birth of the Planet of the Apes!"

French poster

OK, it's me writing again. With this installment, we're seeing the prophecies of the previous entry in the Apes series fulfilled, for the most part... Aldo isn't the first ape to say no, but Lisa is; but still, the apes have revolted.

Japanese poster

I have very strong memories of when my family and I were watching this on CBS, as part of that whole marathon that got such great ratings (and prompted the creation of the TV series)... even though the series began with the Apes being the oppressors against humans, and we were siding with Taylor (and later, Brent), by this movie, my brothers and sisters and I were completely sympathetic towards the apes! We cheered them as they revolted!

Yugoslavian poster

And it's not like we really had much choice, emotionally... parallels between slavery and Nazi Germany are drawn throughout the movie, making the humans (and especially the governor and his goons) look like pure evil... and Caesar becomes a combination of Moses and Che Guevarra (I hope I spelled that right), leading his people to revolution and freedom!

Newspaper heralds

But the movie does leave us with some hope that peace and equality can be managed between apes and humans... after all, it is MacDonald who convinces Caesar there has been enough killing... and I'm sure it was no accident that MacDonald is a black man.

Still more very cool Italian posters

When the movie was in theatres, people must have wondered if this was going to be the final entry in the series... because where else could you go from there? While Caesar's revolution was in just one city-state, another movie with Caesar leading apes to revolt in other parts of the world would've just felt like repetition (and perhaps strained believability). I think they went in the right direction with the next movie, letting us do a lot of filling in the blanks for ourselves, and painting what happened in large strokes.

First page of the pressbook, which I've previously posted in its entirety

One of the few things that really mars this movie when watching it, even on TV, is the obvious use of masks, since Fox wasn't going to spend the money on full makeup for dozens and dozens of extras playing the apes. I'm sure the jumpsuits were another cost-cutting measure, by the way. But it is pretty obvious in a number of shots that the actors are in masks, and not make-up. This was done to an extent in the first two movies, too... and would occur again in the final movie in the series.

They got around this for the TV series by not normally having that many apes on camera, although I recall reading that they were able to streamline the makeup process there.

Anyway... yes, there is still one more movie left to cover, but next Saturday is going to be in July... which means that for one day only, there will be an extension for Planet of the Apes month!


Friday, June 27, 2008

Planet of the Apes: The Timeline Trouble!

OK, today I'm going to attempt to present my theory as to how the various Apes movies and TV shows fit together.

The first assumption I have to make is that there were several ill-fated flights into deep space that brought humans to the future of an ape-dominated planet. Taylor's ship was the first, followed by Brent's.

Now, on the surface of things, it doesn't make too much sense that Brent was sent to find Taylor, because Taylor's flight was meant to take a long time (hence the suspended animation modules). I don't recall suspended animation mentioned as being part of Brent's ship (it's been too long since seeing "Beneath"), but let's assume that it did, and rather than being sent to find Taylor, Brent and his crew were intended to supplement Taylor's crew in their colonization of a distant world. Never mind the lack of females -- we're talking timelines here!

So, I'm positing that both Taylor and Brent's ship had similar engineering behind them, thus placing them both in the same time period, more or less. Brent's flight left a while after Taylor's, so there was a gap between Taylor and Brent landing in the future.

According to the movie, Taylor left earth in 1972... and I don't recall any specific mention of when Brent left, but given how things progressed in the future before he arrived, I think it's safe to assume that he left earth in 1973.

(Note: In the first movie, Taylor thinks it's 3978, while Brent thinks it's 3955 when he arrives... this is the first time discrepancy in the movies, but if one assumes that the chronometers on the ships were damaged, that's easily explained... there's no reason to believe that either one was right)

Chronologically speaking, the next item of importance would be the arrival of Cornelius, Zira and Milo on present-day earth, using Taylor's ship (or Taylor's ship repaired with parts of Brent's, or vice-versa). This could be interpreted as being 1973 or later. It's entirely possible that Brent's follow-up flight was a top-secret mission, as I don't recall any mention of it.

Hasslein being concerned about what he learned of Earth's future, I'm sure he convinced NASA to send more flights to try to find out what happened, probably intending them to return. This could explain additional missions sent out.

In 1976, Hudson, Carter and Franklin (from the animated series) leave Earth, arriving "over a century" in the future (say, 2080, just for the heck of it), but this could well be wrong.

In 1980, Burke and Virdon's ship leaves earth, and lands in the future (according to their ship's chronometer) in 3085 (a not-unreasonable year, as I'll explain).

Now, I'm convinced that both of those missions were intended to be recon missions of a sort, using different stardrives than Brent or Taylor's ships, which would explain their different arrival times in the future. Since the crews of both ships don't have any memories of Cornelius and Zira arriving in 1973 or so, I would posit that they were under post-hypnotic suggestion to not recall that, but to subconsciously try to gather more detailed information about what's going to happen to cause the apes to take over. (Note: According to Wikpedia, when the ABC-owned stations reran the Apes live-action show as movies, Roddy McDowall reprised his role as an aged Galen, presenting the series as memories of what had happened... and says that Burke and Virdon found a working computer and returned home. This material has never appeared anywhere else, not even on the DVD, but if it's canon, it's entirely possible that by the time they returned to Earth, it was either too late, or the government moved too slowly to take the proper action).

Conquest takes place in 1991. I don't recall when the disease struck that killed the dogs and cats was supposed to have happened, but I would not be at all surprised if the disease was originally developed for other purposes, and was accidentally released, as I've written before.

Battle takes place at the turn of the 21st century, or about 2000 or 2001, depending on how one looks at things. The joint ape-human colony has eschewed technology, but this may have been altered after their encounter with the mutants, who still are using buses, cars, and other vehicles.

Over 600 years later (say, 2600) is when the epilogue of Battle takes place, with peace betwen humans and apes.

Now... 2978 is when Taylor arrived (supposedly), almost 400 years after Battle. Yet, the animated series claims to take place at about 2080, but this can't be right. So, some numbers have to be wrong.

So, let's say instead that the numbers were "fudged" in a few places. The peace between humans and apes would work better around 2200... which still puts Caesar back in history and revered. Heck, even 2100 would work well. And we can assume that the peace lasted for a while, but at some point, someone must have come across some evidence that in the future, apes were supposed to be dominant, with humans as slaves at best. Given that the threats to apes had all been human-caused, it's entirely likely some revolution took place, presumably by gorillas (recall that Cornelius claimed in Escape that it was a gorilla named Aldo who said "no" that sparked the original ape revolution). Possibly around the same time, there could have been an aggressive human underground who felt that the apes were dominating humans anyway, leading to a new ape-human conflict.

Possibly contributing to this would be some re-discovery of technology, embraced by the gorillas (who, as a species, seemed to be more aggressive and violent than they're known by us today... it's entirely possible that, thanks to discovering old movies featuring gorillas as being aggressive, it was taken to heart as to how gorillas should be).

It's possible, then, that within as little as 50 years later (let's say, about 2150), this new ape-human conflict resulted in the future we've seen in Return to the Planet of the Apes. So let's say that instead of "over a century later," as the animated series says, it's really two centuries later, or about 2180 that that series takes place.

But at some point, mechanization and technology was abandoned (possibly because of a rejection of "human technology," although guns remain in use, probably due to the relative ease of manufacture and repair, as well as the effectiveness in killing... most likely, cars and the like were abandoned as remaining fuel reserves were used up and no further sources of oil were available).

By the time of 3080 or so, it's been 900 years since the animated series (this year could be way off, but I'm not trying to fix events into specific years, but rather to put things into an order of some kind). Humans still speak, but don't co-exist with apes entirely peacefully, as slaves are offered up to the apes periodically as a condition of their not being hunted. This is when I figure Burke and Virdon arrive, and their mere presence, with their knowledge of how things used to be, is considered a major threat... even if they successfully returned home, I'm sure that the orangutans and gorillas were convinced that Burke and Virdon may have sparked a revolution of humans, and efforts were made to put the humans in their place.

Raids could have happened on the human villages, forcing them into the wild to fend for themselves. Eventually, the human race could well have reverted into savagery as a result, with no leaders among them (I recall the humans Burke and Virdon encountered tended to be rather meek).

By 3978 (assuming Taylor's chronomenter was right), the Planet of the Apes could easily have been the way it was when Taylor arrived. While there was hope for human and ape co-existence in the past, that ship has sailed.

Now, assuming that all this is correct... why do some characters seem to co-exist in different timelines? There's a Doctor Zaius in the animated series, the live-action tv series, and the first two movies, for example, and there's more than one Urko, and more than one Zira.

Well... it's not unreasonable to assume that some names would occur more than once. "Zaius," "Urko," and "Zira" could be fairly popular ape names among the three species, much like "John" is for us. It's even possible that "Zaius" could even be a title as much as a name. Since none of the movies or tv series delve that much into how ape society works, all we can do is make guesses.

Heck, I'd even think that "Caesar" and "Aldo" would be popular names, given their roles in history, but it's entirely likely that the gorillas revered Aldo so much that nobody even knows of Caesar in the far future.

So far as the presence of a Nova, Brent and Taylor in the animated series... I can't quite explain that.

Your thoughts?


Give-A-Show Fridays: Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw!



I won't ask where the bees got the strings they're using to haul the beehive back...



And yes, I have posted that Quick Draw McGraw one before... but this is a better scan!

Next time around... it's Ruff and Reddy, plus The Flintstones again! And that will finish off the 1961 Green Hanna-Barbera set!