Monkey Business 

Planet of the Apes gets its stinkingpaws on a prequel

When Rise of the Planet of the Apes opens on Friday, it will mark the second reboot of the popular apes-take-over-the-world franchise. And I couldn't be happier. The original five-movie series is a pivotal part of my childhood. I still have copies of the black-and-white magazine that came out in the mid-'70s, and have never forgiven Mom for pitching my treehouse playset and action figures.

Tim Burton's 2001 remake was a disaster. But this prequel has me so apeshit dizzy with anticipation that I revisited the five original movies (damn right I own that DVD box set) and happily relived the series' best scenes, which turns out are even crazier than casting James Franco as a scientist.

Planet of the Apes

The original 1968 movie is the best of the bunch — a smart, thrilling, and occasionally funny story about a world gone mad.

Totally bananas scene: There are plenty of them here, but the best is stranded astronaut Taylor's farewell to kind ape Dr. Zira. He tells her he wants to kiss her goodbye. Her reply: "All right, but you're so damned ugly."

Beneath the Planet of the Apes

In the 1970 sequel, another astronaut crashes on the ape planet, only to discover a race of mutant humans living underneath a bombed-out New York.

Totally bananas scene: The telekinetic mutants (led by rotund Oscar nominee Victor Buono, playing Fat Man) hold a religious ceremony for their god: a live nuclear bomb left over from Armageddon.

Escape Fromthe Planet of the Apes

The third movie in the series (from 1971) is also the weirdest: Three ape astronauts from the future travel to 1973 Earth, which, as you can imagine, has a whole bunch of people going apeshit and talking about the end of the world.

Totally bananas scene: The future apes arrive on present-day Earth in a spaceship, decked out in spacesuits straight out of NASA's early '70s wardrobe.

Conquest ofthe Planet of the Apes

Another weird outing, this 1972 movie charts an ape revolution staged by one monkey who's tired of being a slave to humans. It's kinda like Spartacus, but with apes and Ricardo Montalban.

Totally bananas scene: Near-riotous protests in the street feature awesome-sideburns-rocking haters wielding signs that say things like "Go Human, Not Ape."

Battle for the Planet of the Apes

The final outing in the original series (from 1973) takes place a decade after the ape revolution. And like all revolutions, things are going to hell, with militant gorillas and peace-loving monkeys bumping furry heads.

Totally bananas scene: John Huston, the Oscar-winning director of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, plays the Lawgiver, who gives history lessons to little monkey and human kids.

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More by Michael Gallucci


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