Director’s Cut: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

Speaking of protestploitation, one of the most exciting pieces of geek news this month is the announced J. Lee Thompson “director’s cut” of CONQUEST OF THE PLANT OF THE APES (1972), the first and only Ape film I saw in the theater. I was very young and found the movie profoundly scary and apocalyptic, showing how the enslaved domesticated apes rose up against their human oppressors in a futuristic Los Angeles circa 1991. I was entranced by the dystopic tone of dread that builds through the film until its explosive final battle between Ape and Man. I think you know who wins.

This is my favorite film in the series, with a sleek unique 70’s sci-fi atmosphere and a stalwart cast. Along with Ricardo Montalban as the sympathetic human protecting the only talking ape, Roddy McDowall gets the chance to shine as we see him go from docile ape to raging guerilla. It’s a cool, subtle, pantomimic performance and his transformation from Cornelius into Caesar by the film’s violent climax is wholly realized. His fiery speech to the mobilized primate army is a career high point for McDowall. That and the verbal duet between him and an empathetic government aide (well played by Hari Rhodes) are also delicious. No surprise since the script was penned by Paul Dehn, who contributed much of the wit to the Bond series. The awesome Severn Darden is a cruel joy as the chief bureaucratic torturer, although the scenes of him shocking the monkeys are still disturbing.

In fact, the original cut of the film was far too bloody and frightening for preview audiences and the rating board, so nine minutes were removed and the dark ending altered to make it appear Ceasar spares the life of the film’s villain, Governor Breck (Don Murray in a juicy performance and a great black turtleneck). I’ve always longed to see that censored footage and amazingly, that day is now with the November release of yet another box set but on Blu-Ray this time. This is very cool news and I can’t wait to see the original apocalyptic cut of this intense and fascinating film. I’m telling you, I was freaked by the end of CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES; I also decided it was  smarter to be on the side of the revolutionarys taking over rather than the ones oppressing them. Go Ape!

UPDATE: Now that I’ve seen the Director’s Cut, you can go ape here for more monkey business.

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13 Responses to “Director’s Cut: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes”

  1. […] admin wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptSpeaking of protestploitation, one of the most exciting pieces of geek news this month is the announced J. Lee Thompson “director’s cut” of CONQUEST OF THE PLANT OF THE APES (1972), the first and only Ape film I saw in the theater. I was very young and found the movie profoundly scary and apocalyptic, showing how the enslaved domesticated apes rose up against their human oppressors in a futuristic Los Angeles circa 1999. I was entranced by the dystopic tone of dread that builds through the film until its explosive final battle between Ape and Man. I think you know who wins. This is my favorite film in the series, with a sleek unique 70’s sci-fi atmosphere and a stalwart cast. Along with Ricardo Montalban as the sympathetic human protecting the only talking ape, Roddy McDowall gets the chance to shine as we see him go from docile ape to raging […] […]

  2. halmasonberg Says:

    I am so psyched for this. I actually had the pleasure of seeing all the films in theaters (even got to do the GO APE all night Drive-In of all 5 films!). These films had an incredible impact on me and I still find them totally engaging. And yes, CONQUEST is the most disturbing. Can’t wait to see this cut.

  3. I would love to do that GO APE drive-in experience! But this one has always been the one I can watch endlessly, altho I love the original.

  4. I’m a big fan of this series, although I have only seen bits & pieces of “Battle…”. I’m constantly surprised at how underrated these films are. The stories deal with a number of serious issues and that aside, just look at the commercial films risks they take. Main charcters are relentlessly knocked off, they blow up the earth, and in “Escape…”

    ***SPOILERS!!!*** Not only do they kill, hell, MURDER in cold blood the two leads, but gun down a baby! Admittedly it’s a baby monkey, but you think it’s the lead’s child and it ain’t pretty. No way they do that now.

    I’ll be looking for this release.

  5. Yes, ESCAPE disturbed me much as a child — and it was rated G! The films have always had a nice philosophical prremise — jettisoned in Burton’s useless remake. But CONQUEST is the most charged and controversial.

  6. butcher_bakersfield Says:

    Ugh – I don’t know why anyone isn’t pointing out that this is the 3rd time they’ve released this boxset in the past 8 years…but NOW they release the director’s cut of Conquest! On Blu-Ray no less. Where is the DVD version of this? F’n FOX!

  7. And where is the unedited BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES? Ten minutes have been cut and only available on Japanese disc.

    It’s a scam!

  8. The unedited BATTLE is on the most recent DVD release.

  9. […] Ape: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes: Director’s Cut As an addendum to my heavily-hit post on CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT, here’s a section from my […]

  10. I had no idea 9 minutes had been cut off of this film and that the ending had been changed. I’m looking forward to seeing that other footage.

    What is even stranger is that I am watching Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan – Lord of the Apes right now.

  11. christian Says:

    Which was also heavily edited I believe. Even Andie Mcdowell’s voice was dubbed by Glen Close!

    Go grab COTPOTA now. It’s awesome and riveting.

  12. […] an addendum to my heavily-hit post on CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT, here’s a section from my […]

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