BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES
Following the events of previous 'Planet of the Apes' movie, time-displaced astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) and the mute human Nova (Linda Harrison) are riding on horseback through the desert of the Forbidden Zone.
Suddenly and without warning, walls of fire spring up from the ground and deep chasms open in the earth. Confused by the strange phenomenon, Taylor investigates a cliff wall and disappears before Nova's eyes.
Elsewhere in the Forbidden Zone, a second human spaceship has crash-landed after being sent in search of Taylor and his crew. Like Taylor's ship, it has traveled forward through time into Earth's distant future.
Two astronauts emerge whom are John Brent (James Franciscus) and the gravely wounded captain of ship, known only as Skipper, who soon dies from his wounds.
Brent reads the Earth year on his crashed ship as 3955 A.D., and he believes he has traveled to another planet, unaware that this is Earth of the far-future.
He encounters Nova still riding on Taylor's horse and notices she is wearing Taylor's dog tags, but he cannot get her to speak. Hoping Taylor is still alive, Brent rides with Nova to Ape City, where he is shocked to discover a civilization of bipedal, talking apes.
He observes the militarist gorilla General Ursus (James Gregory) leading a rally calling for the apes to invade the Forbidden Zone, conquer it, exterminate all humans, and use it as a potential food source, against the objections of the orangutan ruling leader Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) as well as the chimpanzee minority of Ape City.
Brent is spotted and wounded by a gorilla soldier. He is taken by Nova to the home of Cornelius (David Watson) and Zira (Kim Hunter), who treat his wound and tell him of their previous encounter with Taylor.
The two humans hide when Dr. Zaius arrives and announces that he will accompany Ursus on the invasion of the Forbidden Zone. Attempting to flee the city, Brent and Nova are captured by gorillas.
Ursus orders they be used for target practice, but Zira helps them escape. Brent and Nova flee into the Forbidden Zone where they hide in a cave which Brent discovers to be the ruins of the Queensboro Plaza station of the New York City Subway, sparking the realization that he has traveled to Earth's post-apocalyptic future.
Following a humming sound deeper into the underground tunnels, Brent begins to hear voices telling him to kill Nova. Entering the remains of St. Patrick's Cathedral, he finds a population of telepathic humans who worship an intact nuclear bomb.
Meanwhile back in Ape City, Dr. Zaius prepares to accompany General Ursus for the invasion by several armed gorilla battalions into the Forbidden Zone to exterminate any humans there.
They are temporarily halted by a peace protest by the chimpanzee minority whom the gorillas proceed to detain. As Ursus and Zaius lead the huge ape army away from Ape City into the desert, Cornelius and Zira plot their own excursion into the Forbidden Zone desert to look for Taylor's spaceship by the Dead Lake deep in the zone where he told them in the previous movie where he crashed it.
Back in the underground city, Brent and Nova are captured by the mutant humans and are telepathically interrogated. Brent reveals the apes are marching on the Forbidden Zone and will find their underground city.
Above ground, the telepaths attempt to repel the ape army when it arrives by using their mental abilities to project illusions of fire and other horrors, as they had done to Taylor and Nova.
Dr. Zaius sees through the illusions, however, and leads the ape army through to the ruined city. With the apes closing in, the telepaths plan to detonate their "Divine Bomb" as a last resort.
They hold a religious ceremony, at the height of which they remove their masks to reveal that their appearance has been grotesquely mutated by centuries of exposure to nuclear fallout.
Brent is separated from Nova and taken to a cell, where he finds Taylor imprisoned. The mutant Ongaro (Don Pedro Colley) uses his telepathic powers to force Brent and Taylor to fight each other to the death.
Nova escapes her guard and runs to the cell, screaming her first word: "Taylor!" This breaks Ongaro's concentration, freeing Brent and Taylor from his control, and they overpower and kill him.
Brent describes the bomb the mutants worship and Taylor recognizes it as a "doomsday bomb", capable of destroying all life on the surface of the planet.
The heavily armed apes invade the subterranean city, killing Nova and making their way to the cathedral, shooting, stabbing, and clubbing all the mutant humans they see.
They are confronted by Méndez (Paul Richards), the mutant leader who raises the bomb into activation position before being gunned down. Brent and Taylor attempt to stop Ursus from accidentally setting off the weapon, but Taylor is shot.
Brent manages to take a rifle off a dead gorilla where he personally kills Ursus and several of his gorilla soldiers before being overwhelmed and shot dead by the other gorillas.
The mortally wounded Taylor pleads with Dr. Zaius for help, but Zaius refuses, saying that man is only capable of destruction and that all humans must be exterminated.
In his last moment, Taylor defiantly brings his hand down on the activation switch, triggering the bomb, which detonates... thus wiping out all life on the planet.
ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES - 1971
The preceding film, 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes', ends with a nuclear weapon's destruction of the apes' future Earth itself and everything on it.
'Escape from the Planet of the Apes' begins by establishing that three chimpanzee apes, Cornelius (Roddy McDowall), Zira (Kim Hunter), and Dr. Milo (Sal Mineo) escaped the Earth's destruction by salvaging and repairing the astronaut Taylor's spaceship (which sank in the Dead Lake in the desert Forbidden Zone in the first movie).
They piloted it through the nuclear shock wave of Earth's destruction, sending the ship into space and through a time warp wormhole back to present day 1973.
The salvage, repair and launch of Taylor's spaceship apparently all happened (off-camera) within the brief period during the final act of the previous film. The three apes arrive on Earth, splashing down on the Pacific coast near Los Angeles.
They are found by the surprised local authorities and are transported to a secluded area of the Los Angeles Zoo, under the observation of two scientists, Stephanie Branton (Natalie Trundy) and Lewis Dixon (Bradford Dillman).
They administer a series of intelligence tests, which Zira performs unerringly, but she finally loses her patience at the end of the last one and answers Stephanie's question to Lewis with an angry retort.
Stephanie and Lewis step outside, completely astonished. Milo argues with Zira and Cornelius about their agreement to hide their ability to speak until they felt the time was right.
The argument agitates a wild gorilla on the opposite side of a set of bars in the cages. Milo steps too close to these bars and the wild gorilla reaches through them and strangles Milo to death.
Meanwhile, a Presidential Commission has been formed to investigate the return of Taylor's spaceship which was launched the previous year and how the apes, which they already are aware are atypically intelligent, came to be aboard it.
Cornelius and Zira are brought before the Presidential Commission, where they publicly reveal their ability to speak, and are welcomed as guests. They tell the commission about their planet in the future which is future Earth, about the apes way of life, but they deny knowing Taylor or anyone else that crash landed on their world.
Over the next several weeks, the two apes become celebrities, being lavished with presents and media attention as well as staying in a fancy hotel suite.
They come to the attention of the President's Science Advisor Dr. Otto Hasslein (Eric Braeden), who discovers Zira is pregnant and fears for the future of the human race after Zira had earlier told the commission about the growing dominance of apes to be set in the near future.
Determined to force the issue, he gets her drunk on champagne (which he assures her is harmless, calling it "grape juice plus"). The resulting interrogation enables him to convince the Commission that Cornelius and Zira must be subjected to more rigorous questioning.
Both chips are brought to a top secret military base are questioned using various means of interrogation; during this time, one of Hasslein's assistants refers to the apes as "monkeys", stirring Cornelius' anger. Hasslein defuses it, saying they simply want to know how apes rose in dominance over men.
Under interrogation, Cornelius reveals that according to the historic archive books and scrolls in their ape society of the future, the human race will eventually meet its downfall in the late 20th Century.
A plague wiped out all domestic cats and dogs of humans and humanity adopted apes as household pets which they turned into slaves.
A militant ape, known only as 'Aldo', led a slave revolt and the world was soon dominated by the simians, which will, many centuries later, lead to the surface of Earth's destruction through nuclear war and anarchy in the year 3955.
However, there are still suspicions about how humans are treated by the future apes when Cornelius and Zira continue to deny knowing Taylor or talk about how humans are treated in their world.
Suspicion had already been aroused by Zira letting it slip, during her drunken interrogation by Dr. Hasslein, that she had dissected humans in the course of her scientific work.
Hasslein orders Lewis to administer a truth serum to her, while Cornelius is taken to confinement quarters. Lewis warns Zira that the serum will have the same effect as the champagne Hasslein convinced her to drink earlier.
As a result of the serum, Hasslein learns for himself that Zira examined and operated on humans in the future and indeed knew Taylor as well as Barnes who also arrived on their planet.
Zira is taken to join Cornelius in confinement while the paranoid Hasslein takes his findings to the U.S. President (William Windom) who insists to the President that the apes are a danger to the human race.
A little later, an orderly bringing food refers to the unborn child as a "little monkey"; Cornelius has heard enough of the epithet and knocks the tray out of the orderly's hands and bashes him on the head with the tray, and uses this advantage to escape from the military base.
At first, Cornelius thinks that he has only knocked the orderly unconscious, but he is later stunned to overhear that the man died.
Hasslein uses the orderly's death and of Cornelius and Zira's escape as an illustration of the future danger the apes present and calls for the apes' execution. The president reluctantly orders that the unborn child's birth be terminated and that both chimpanzees be sterilized or killed.
Running for their lives, Cornelius and Zira (assisted by Stephanie and Lewis) find shelter in a circus run by a Mexican national named Señor Armando (Ricardo Montalbán), where an ape named Heloise has just had a baby.
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. Armando, Lewis and Stephanie provide them with maps and help them plan to hide until such time as they can escape into the Florida Everglades to live the rest of their lives in peace.
In case they are discovered, Lewis gives Cornelius a pistol to use as a last resort. Zira asks to say goodbye to Heloise before they leave. Hasslein tracks the apes down to an abandoned ship in Long Beach harbor, and finds Zira resting with her infant.
Hasslein shoots Zira in cold blood after she refuses to hand over her infant and then proceeds to fire several shots into the infant. Hasslein is immediately shot to death by Cornelius, and falls overboard.
After Cornelius kills Hasslein, he is shot by several Marine Corps snipers and, as Stephanie and Lewis watch helplessly from the shore, falls to his death onto the poop deck of the ship.
Zira tosses her dead baby over the side of the ship before crawling to lie with her husband and dying by his side. But in the final scene in a surprising plot twist, Stephanie, Lewis and the other humans are unaware of the real fate of the infant ape.
Earlier, Cornelius, Zira, and Armando switched babies with Heloise before their escape from the circus. Armando now watches over the infant Milo as the circus is being moved to a new location.
Armando remarks how intelligent that the baby chimp is who will now survive with him at his circus. The final shot shows the baby ape Milo sitting in a cage, plaintively speaking the words "Mama? Mama?" with the voice of a human child.