The Night Strangler (1973)

Originally airing on ABC on January 16, 1973, this sequel to The Night Stalker was just as popular as the original film. Richard Matheson would come back to write, Dan Curtis would produce and direct, and Darren McGavin would be Carl Kolchak again.

While the TV version is only 74 minutes, there was an international version that played theaters at 90 minutes with extra footage added.

This time, Kolchak has been run out of Las Vegas and found his way to Seattle, where fate has put his former editor Vincenzo (Simon Oakland, PsychoChanto’s Land) has also ended up. He’s arrived just in time, as a series of exotic dancers have all been strangled and drained of blood. And oh yeah — there are traces of rotting flesh on their necks.

A researcher (Wally Cox, the voice of Underdog) discovers that this isn’t the first time the Emerald City has dealt with murders just like this. It happened in 1952. And in 1931. And every 21 years since 1889, with a series of murders occurring over an 18-day span.

Our hero figures out the truth, but the story gets suppressed again. He deals with it about as well as you’d imagine. He teams up with an exotic dancer (Jo Ann Pflug, one-time wife of Chuck Woolery who also is in Scream of the Wolf) and tracks down the night stalker (Richard Anderson, The Six Million Dollar Man) to his lair, where the truth is revealed: he’s actually a man named Dr. Richard Malcolm who has discovered the elixir of life, but must kill six people to make it. To make things even creepier, his family died long ago and are mummified nearby.

Carl smashes the mixture and is attacked, but soon, the night stalker ages into dust before he kills himself. Out of a job, Carl and Vincenzo are forced to drive to New York City together.

A third film, written by Mattheson and William F. Nolan (Burnt Offerings) called The Night Killers was to be set in Hawaii, with Kolchak again walking into a cover-up, as UFO’s, nuclear power and androids replacing humans would have all figured into the plot. There was also the rumor of another script where Kolchak was going to discover that Janos Skorzeny was alive and making others not so well in New York City.

ABC passed on the third movie and gave Kolchak a series without Matheson or Curtis involved.

But that’s a story for another day.

The Night Stalker is everything great about made-for-TV movies, with plenty of quality actors showing up, like The Wizard of Oz star Margaret Hamilton, John Carradine (like you can keep him away from a horror movie made in 1973), “Grandpa” Al Lewis in a funny role where you assume that he’s a bloodsucker but just ends up being a homeless person, Nina Wayne as a dancer named Charisma Beauty, Kate Murtagh (The Car), Ivor Francis (the mortician from House of the Dead) and Anne Randall (Playboy Playmate of the Month May 1967, who also appears in the Al Adamson movie  Hell’s Bloody Devils).

If you love The Six Million Dollar Man, you have to appreciate the irony that both McGavin — as Oliver Spencer — and Anderson — as Oscar Goldman — would play the handler of Steve Austin.

You can watch this for yourself on New Castle After Dark. Or grab the blu ray from Kino Lorber.

Box Office Failures Week: Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973)

For years, I’ve wanted to see this movie and it’s eluded me. I shop at The Exchange stores often and the one in Monroeville had one of the Warner Archive burn on demand disks. I watched it like, well, a seagull for about a year. It was $12. Surely I wasn’t going to spend so much money on Johnathan Livingston Seagull, long deried as one of the worst movies ever, one of only four movies that Roger Ebert would ever walk out on (the others are Caligula, The Statue and Tru Loved) and a movie I learned about from The Fifty Worst Films of All Time.

Yeah, I like pain. Bring it on, seagull.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull (James Franciscus) is trying to up his speed and break the 60 mile per hour barrier, but the Elders of his flock — hey there, Hal Holbrook’s voice — shame him for even trying while Neil Diamond sings over his efforts.

He is now an outcast, flying alone, when he meets a series of mysterious seagulls who let him know that he is unique and should be proud. Johnathan becomes a mentor to the other birds who have no one to share their gifts with.

Juliet Mills plays Johnathan’s love interest, who is known as The Girl. And Richard Crenna is in here too as our hero’s father.

Director Hall Bartlett discovered the book when he was getting his haircut. Delaring, “I was born to make this movie,” he won the property from author Richard Bach for $100,000 and half the profits, which makes me assume that the Bach’s estate just got $6 from my DVD purchase and yet he still hasn’t made all that much.

Yes, this was directed by the same man who made Zero Hour!

And yet, it barely made back its budget.

Maybe all the lawsuits helped.

Bach sued Paramount Pictures before the film’s release because the movie was different than the book and the judge ordered Bartlett to revise the movie before it could be released. The major issue was a scene where a hawk (voiced by the director) attacks Johnathan.

Then, Neil Diamond sured because five minutes of his songs were cut. He also demanded the credit “Music and songs by Neil Diamond.”  Diamond “vowed never to get involved in a movie again unless I had complete control,” then made The Jazz Singer seven years later.

Then director Ovady Julber sued, claiming that the movie stole from his 1936 film La Mer. There was no trial, as cultural use of the film had taken away any common-law copyright the movie had, which seems like a totally BS legal decision, but hey — I write about Spanish horror movies with lots of breasts and blood so the law is way out of my sphere of influence.

The opening credit of this film reads, “To the real Jonathan Livingston Seagull who lives within us all.” I advise that this is the exact moment that you begin whatever substances you plan to get you through this.

As for Richard Bach, he met his second wife Leslie Parrish while making this movie, leaving his first wife — who typed all of his aviation books — and six children, not seeing them for many years. Beyond her production job, Parrish was responsible for the seagulls and had to keep them in her room at the Holiday Inn. When Bach and Bartlett started to fight, she was the mediator between them. Sadly, her credit for the movie was just a researcher, which seems like complete malarky.

Parish would play a major role in Bach’s next two books, The Bridge Across Forever and One, which pwas all about Bach’s concept of soulmates. They divorced in 1997, so maybe his theory wasn’t so perfect. Who can say?

In 2014, there would be another chapter added to the book. Nobody thought to film that.

This is totally going to be the movie that I will use to chase people out of my house from now on. Except that, like all bad movies, I love it. I adore every second of this schmaltzy up with people movie that just had birds staring at the screen while actors try to make magic of the script. I look forward to many, many viewings of this movie along with many, many hangovers to follow.

Join me, won’t you?

Baba Yaga (1973)

Originally simply the girlfriend for the superhero Neutron, Italian comic book character Valentina took over her series in 1967 and never looked back. Creator Guido Crepax moved her stories away from science fiction and into a world of the erotic tinged with hallucinations, dreams and BDSM.

Director Corrado Farina had previously made a documentary on Crepax before this movie, Freud a Fumetti. That artist had drawn the storyboards for Tinto Brass’ Deadly Sweet, a filmmaker who felt that Crepax’s visual style was near impossible to put on the screen.

Of recent comic adaptions — one would assume Barbarella and Danger: Diabolik amongst them, Farina would disparagingly say, “None of the filmmakers who embarked on that task had been able to deepen the relationship between the language of comics and that of film.”

In this film, Farina was committed to showing the fantastic side of Crepax and not just the erotic.

Valentina Rosselli (Isabelle De Funes) is no stranger to controversy. Her photos are guaranteed to shock and she’s unafraid to get into trouble. One night, her car gets into an accident with a mysterious blonde (Carroll Baker!) who announces herself as Baba Yaga and says that their meeting was destiny.

After taking a garter belt from Valentina’s home, Baba Yaga worms her way inside our protagonist’s head, controlling her via a teddy bear in bondage gear. Yes, you read that correctly. Baba Yaga also has a bottomless pit in her home, which is probably a common thing amongst Italian witches.

Valentina’s lover — the director Arno — is played by George Eastman. That was enough to get me to watch this movie.

Sadly, we may never see the complete vision that Farina had for this movie. After completing shooting and post-production, he left for a vacation. When he came back, the producers had hacked away half an hour directly on the negative of the film. Although he and assistant director Giuilio Berruti tried to save the movie, Farina felt that he could never get back what was lost.

You can get this on DVD from Blue Underground.

The Corruption of Chris Miller (1973)

Chris Miller (former Spanish child star Marisol; when she married dancer Antonio Gades, Fidel Castro acted as their godfather) lives with her stepmother Ruth (Jean Seberg, the haunted and doomed beauty who was also in Breathless and Saint Joan). The loss of Chris’ father has damaged both of them, so when a drifter named Barney (Barry Stokes, Prey) shows up, it changes their lives. Maybe not for the better, what with a killer slicing his way through the village…

This Spanish giallo was directed by Juan Antonio Bardem (yes, the uncle of Javier) who also made Death of a Cyclist and wrote A Bell From Hell. It was written by Santiago Moncada, who was also the pen behind Hatchet for the HoneymoonRicco and The Fourth Victim.

Ruth blames Chris for her husband leaving, so she uses Barney to seduce her stepdaughter, who is recovering from the dual loss of her father and being assaulted at school. Her plan? When daddy comes home, he won’t love his daughter much any longer because she’s no longer a virgin. Meanwhile, the killer keeps on killing, including a scene where he dresses like Charlie Chaplin.

Also released as Behind the Shutters, this movie is also a proto-slasher, rife with bloody murders, including a moment when the rain slicker covered villain kills an entire family in slow motion.

Vinegar Syndrome recently released this on blu ray, complete with a newly scanned 4K capture from the original 35mm negative.

Sex of the Witch (1973)

So wait — did this movie rip off the poster for Byleth Demon of Incest or what? Yes, while the rest of the world is asleep at 6:46 AM on a Saturday morning, I’m trying to figure out Italian horror film posters. Such is my life.

Seriously, take a look at this poster and realize — it’s the exact same art.

Well, in this movie, the Hilton family gathers at their mansion as their patriarch dies. As he passes, he curses the family, who are soon beset by a witch and her killing machine who starts to wipe them out one by one, as she knows their secret.

Meanwhile, as they’re giving the old man his last rites, his servants are doing the horizontal lambada on his coffin.

There’s a lot of murder but plenty more nudity, including a scene where two girls make out while a goldfish is, well, played with. Then the color drops out while some hippy rock plays. And oh yeah, Camille Keaton from I Spit On Your Grave shows up and she confessed that she had no idea what the movie was about the entire time she was acting in it.

Donald O’Brien (Dr. Butcher, M.D.Mannaja2020 Texas Gladiators) claimed that the budget was so low that he had to wear his own clothes. That said, not many people in this keep their clothes on.

Look for Gianni Dei, who would later play Patrick in the Italian sexual reimagining of the Australian movie Patrick that would be known as Patrick Still Lives. I still have no idea how that happened.

Satanico Pandemonium (1973)

Sister Maria should be living the quiet and chaste convent life, but she has a fantasy world in which she runs free and wild, the servant of Satan. In our world, her acts of violent blasphemy are on the increase as she begins to realize that her job is to lead her sisters in Christ down the left hand path to Hell. The Devil has his hooves into Sister Maria and he isn’t going to let go.

Gilberto Martinez Solares also directed Santo and Blue Demon Against the Monsters, but there’s no way that will prepare you for this movie. I’d compare it — obviously — to Alucarda, a movie that it has similar themes to but less eye popping visuals. That’s not to say that this movie plays it safe, but man, it had a high bar to reach.

Sure, Maria is good with medicine and animals, but once she sees Lucifer — who tells her “Call me Lucifer. If you want me, just think of me, I’m everywhere.” — and eats the apple he offers, all Hell breaks loose. Where she once self-flagellated herself, now our heroine — I guess? — is making love to the other nuns when she’s not watching them hang themselves.

There’s also an interesting subplot about a black nun who is treated badly by everyone, including her Mother Superior, which seems a deep subject to tackle in a Mexican nunsploitation film. Also — lots of stabbing. And obviously, this is where Salma Hayek’s character in From Dusk Till Dawn got her name.

This is on Tubi, but you can preorder the blu ray now from Mondo Macabro.

Alabama’s Ghost (1973)

In the early 1970s, Fredric Hobbs pioneered an art form that he called ART ECO, a combination of environmental technology, fine art, solar/nomadic architecture and interactive communications with an ecologically balanced lifestyle.

But more important to our studies, Hobbs also wrote and produced four films, the missing potentially forever Troika, Roseland, the incredibly strange Godmonster of Indian Flats and this movie. I am pleased to report that in the first minute of this movie, it somehow outweirds even the Godmonster. How is this even possible?

“Whilst storm clouds gathered over Europe in the years before the war, Hitler’s most brilliant and renowned young scientist, Dr. Kirsten Caligula, vanished suddenly from her laboratory in Berlin.

World press received unconfirmed reports that Dr. Caligula — an expert in robot technology — had been dispatched to Calcutta, India, on a top secret mission for the Fuhrer himself.

Her orders: to interview the world-famed magician and spiritualist Carter the Great at his Mountain retreat near Calcutta. There to study his most recent discovery a rare super-substance known as Raw-Zeta.

It was rumored amongst scientists of the time that Carter’s substance resembled a highly potent form of hashish known as Cartoon-Khaki. Other authoritative sources in the Far East reported that Raw-Zeta, when refined electronically, could result in the formation of Deadly-Zeta.

Carter — in ghost form — was introduced into a human body by Chinese acupuncture techniques. In his last public statement, Carter warned that any mortal wired to Deadly-Zeta could be used as a broadcasting catalyst to enslave all humans with the sound of his voice, thus becoming an unwitting tool for the most diabolical forces of evil known to man.

Soon afterward, Carter vanished forever whilst visiting his sister in San Francisco, perhaps a victim of his own prophecy.

Seven years later, when Carter was pronounced legally, dead his admirers held a spirit funeral over an empty black coffin.”

These words — originally transcribed by the site Taliesin Meets the Vampires — start the film and then we’re instantly slammed into a Dixieland band playing a song called “Alabama’s Ghost” that spoils most of the movie. That’s when we meet our hero, Alabama, who crashes a forklift into a room that is filled with the magical tools of Carter the Great. He decides to visit the magician’s sister in San Francisco and learn more about how he can become a great magician.

Alabama is played by Christopher Brooks, who also played Hieronymous Bosch in Roseland and Jesus Christ in The Mack. He also shows up in Godmonster of Indian Flats. He’s incredible in this movie, to the point that you could have really told me he really was the character and that they just filmed his crazy life and didn’t tell him that this was a narrative film.

She agrees to allow him to keep the Raw-Zeta, which he believes is hashish, and Zoerae — her granddaughter — will travel with Alabama, teaching him more of the ways of magic. However, when our protagonist leaves, we learn that the old woman is a man. And a vampire. And soon, we also discover that Zoerae is also a vampire, part of a coven that still follows Dr. Caligula and will use the media airwaves of a man named Gaunt to speak through Alabama, transforming the Raw-Zeta to Deadly Zeta and take over the world.

If you make it this far without wondering what the hell is going on, I’d be amazed. This movie is quite literally insane on every single level and I love it for whatever it is.

Meanwhile, Alabama is being managed by Otto Max, a rock and roll promoter, and learns that being a big star isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. Oh yeah — he’s also mentored by the ghost of Carter the Great, who is trying to help him battle the vampires and become King of the Cosmos. But dude, those vampires have whole factories where they use young hippy girls as fuel.

Carter’s ghost is played by E. Kerrigan Prescott, who was also Prof. Clemens in Godmonster of Indian Flats and the lead character, Adam Wainwright the Black Bandit, in Roseland.

In 1973, $50,000, an elephant and possibly no small amount of drugs could create something this baffling and wonderous. It also has Turk Murphy, Dixieland jazz trombonist who ran the club Earthquake McGoons in San Francisco and also lent his voice to cartoons on Sesame Street.

There’s also a robotic version of Alabama, vampire bikers, the aforementioned elephant, lots of hippy freakout dancing, German undead scientists obsessed with marijuana and no small amount of musical numbers. I can’t even begin to explain how much I love Hobbs’ films and how much nearly everyone else will probably hate them. Nothing and everything happens all at once.

There’s a battle between Carter’s ghost and Alabama over the nature of magic. A real magician never reveals how they perform their magic and Otto demands that our hero reveal how an elephant can vanish.

This is a movie where the end credits come in at the beginning and a hippy singalong can bring a man back from the brink of death. The copy that I watched was beat up and appeared to be a VHS dub of a print that had run through every drive-in and grindhouse in the country, watched at 9 AM on a peaceful Sunday morning when most of the rest of the normal world was asleep. I can’t think of a better way to watch this movie.

I hope that when you watch this film, you feel the same magic and joy that I felt.

Hex (1973)

Director Leo Garren only made this one movie and his directing career is limited to an episode of I Dream of Jeannie and a short film called Hootpurr. He was better known as a writer, working on shows like Vega$Quincy M.D. and T.J. Hooker. Plus, he wrote the Band of the Hand, a movie I keep trying to get to and write up for the site.

He was joined in the scriptwriting by Vernon Zimmerman, who wrote and directed The Unholy Rollers and Fade to Black, two of my favorite movies. He also wrote Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw and Teen Witch, so top that! They were also aided and abetted by Steve Katz, who wrote for The A-Team and Hardcastle and McCormick, as well as Doran William Cannon, who wrote the original story. His credits include Brewster McCloud, the 1980 TV version of Brave New World and a little film called Skidoo, which explains why this movie is just so strange.

The original screenplay was written in 1969 with the goal of being “the biggest piece of schlock,” combining two hot genres — biker films and supernatural horror.

Set in 1919, this movie was shot on location at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota. After being acquired by Twentieth Century Fox, it gathered dust on the shelf while the studio re-cut it into a more straightforward occult-themed horror film. Well, they tried, because this movie is still really odd.

It’s also been released under its working title, Grassland, as well as The Shrieking and Charms.

After the First World War, a loosely knit band of motorcyclists — let’s call them a gang — make their way across the U.S. on the way to California. Right now, they’re in rural Bingo, Nebraska, where they lose a hot rod race and flee after a dispute.

The gang includes Archibald “Whizzer” Overton (Keith Carradine, who I never realized was Martha Plimpton’s dad), Golly (Mike Combs, in his only acting role), Jimbang (Scott Glenn, The Right Stuff), Chupo (Robert Walker, Beware! The BlobEasy RiderThe Passover Plot), Gibson “Giblets” Meredith (Gary Busey!) and a woman named China (Doria Cook-Nelson, the wife of Craig T. Nelson who shows up in The Swarm and Evil Town).

They hide on a remote farm owned by two sisters, Acacia (Hilary Thompson, the wife of Alan Ormsby and an actress who shows up in The Fury and Nighthawks) and  Oriole (Cristina Raines, who of course starred in The Sentinel). Their Native American shaman father has just died and Oriole must run the farm with an iron fist. Despite letting the bikers stay, Giblets tries to assault Acacia. He gets hexed and an owl promptly rips out his eyes.

Oriole supplies them with a wheelbarrow and a shovel, as she does not want the man buried on her land. However, they supervise the funeral.

Soon, Acacia is falling for Golly. And Oriole and Whizzer grow close, but China soon reveals that the man is a liar. He was never a veteran but instead a mechanic who is trying to invent a better life story for himself.

So, you know, Oriole does what anyone else would. She takes some of China’s hair, sews it into the mouth of a toad and gives the girl horrific visions. Then, she begins  to take out the gang one by one.

Jimbang attempts to shoot Oriole, but his gun lives up to his name, as it misfires and kills him instead. Chupo gets possessed and attacks Whizzer against his will. After he’s sliced with a sickle, Oriole makes love to Whizzer, who also kills the frog who is an effigy of China. Whew!

Acacia, tired of Oriole using their father’s magic for evil, renounces him, just as she shows up clad in his robes. But it all strangely works out — Golly stays behind with Acacia and on the only bike left, Oriole drives away with Whizzer riding on the back. Four fighter jets — it’s 1919? — pass overhead.

What did I just watch? Because I think I loved it.

Oh yeah! Dan Haggerty has a small role as Brother Billy and Iggie Wolfington, who represented actors in at least 10,000 equity cases as part of the Actors’ Fund of America, plays a bandmaster. John Carradine is in some of the production stills as an old gunfighter, but he never shows up in the U.S. cut of the film. Perhaps once someone like Vinegar Syndrome or Severin gets their hands on this, we’ll know more.

While Norman Mailer considered Hex one of the top-ten best films of 1973, it basically sat and sat in the valuts of 20th Century Fox. For his part, Garen was happy with the re-cut of the film that he completed, referring to it as “sort of carnival, snake oil, underground comic book entertainment. The only trick I tried to pull off was to keep the audience constantly shifting. When it gets serious, I pull the rug out. It goes from blatant farce to serious to scary to balletic to phantasmagoric.”

Trinity Home Entertainment released this on DVD way back in 2006 under its Charms title. Seeing as how this is near impossible to find today, I’ve decided to share it below. It comes from the Deranged Visions YouTube channel, which always has so many completely berserk offerings.

Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973)

This was the first movie that Nicholas Meyer ever wrote. Yes, the same guy who wrote The Day AfterTime After Time and the two good Star Trek films (two and four, if you’re playing at home) started right here. One day when he left to visit his parents, the script was altered and young Mr. Meyer wanted to take his name off of the project, but was convinced by his manager that he needed a credit.

Neil Agar (William Smith, Grave of the Vampire) is a special agent for the State Department sent to investigate the numerous deaths at government-sponsored Brandt Research.

It turns out that the scientists there are more obsessed with sex than their research to the point that some of them are literally getting balled to death. By the way, I’m on a quest to get the word balling and ball used in the vernacular again. Please help me.

The truth is the women of the research lab have all become Bee Girls through self-induced mutation. Now they have eyes that allow them to see like insects and the instincts of using and destroying men, several of whom totally welcome the end.

The main reason to watch this is Anitra Ford as Dr. Susan Harris. You may remember her from The Big Bird Cage and being a model on The Price Is Right. She’s in one of my favorite movies, 1972’s Messiah of Evil. If you haven’t seen that, you should probably just stop reading this right now and get on that.

Victoria Vetri plays the heroine, Julie Zorn. Using the name Angela Dorian, she was the Playboy Playmate of the Month for September 1967 and 1968’s Playmate of the Year. When Apollo 12 went to the moon, a photo of her and Playmates Leslie Bianchini, Reagan Wilson and Cynthia Myers was there, inserted into the activity astronaut cuff checklists.

She also appears in Rosemary’s Baby and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. In 2010, nearly a quarter-century into her marriage to Bruce Rathgeb, Vetri was charged with attempted murder after allegedly shooting her husband at close range after an argument. She received nine years in prison on a charge that was finally reduced to attempted voluntary manslaughter. Her husband claimed that she had been saying, “No more Charlie, no more Charlie,” as she’d been convinced that Charles Manson wanted her dead ever since her friend Sharon Tate was killed. In fact, the gun that she used was given to her by Roman Polanski, who her husband claimed that she often slept with along with Tate. Vetri is in a halfway house now and working on making her way back to society.

This movie is also known as Graveyard Tramps, which has nothing to do with what it’s really about. You should watch it anyway.

You can watch this on The Internet Archive, Tubi and Amazon Prime.

Ape Week: Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Paul Dehn wrote every one of the original Apes films, but after providing the story idea, an illness made him leave the project. John William and Joyce Hooper Corrington (The Omega Man) came in to write the movie, despite never seeing any of the previous films.

Dehn was unavailable for the initial rewrites, but was hired to come in and do one more pass. He was only given a story credit, despite an appeal to the Writer’s Guild of America for shared credit on the screenplay, despite rewriting 90% of the dialogue and adding a new ending.

While the original script ended on a playground with ape and human children fighting, now it would close on a statue of Caesar with a tear falling from its eye. Joyce Corrington called ythe new ending stupid and claimed that “It turned our stomachs when we saw it.”

The budget for this one was $1.7 million, a figure that director J. Lee Thompson felt wasn’t enough. He also wasn’t happy with the script, regretting that Dehn wasn’t on board throughout the entire process.

In the future — 2670 A.D. — a Lawgiver (John Huston!) explains that Caesar led the apes after mankind wiped itself out in a nuclear war. The ape leader, along with his wife Lisa (Natalie Trundy, reprising her role) and son Cornelius, are attempting to create a new society where human and ape can live together. Opposing this is the gorilla Aldo (Claude Atkins!) who wants to imprison the humans and make them do slave labor.

After an incident between Aldo and a teacher, Caesar doubts his leadership and wishes that his parents could have taught him more. MacDonald, Caesar’s human assistant and the younger brother of the similarly named character from the last film — played by Austin Stoker —  knows that there is archived footage of them in the Forbidden City. So the two are joined by Virgil (Paul Williams, who of course had to end up in this series) on a quest to see this video.

However, there are mutants living within the city, led by Governor Kolp (Severn Darden), the man who once captured Caesar. Soon, Kolp declares war on Ape City despite his assistant Mendez’s trying to calm him down. Later in the film, Mendez is asked to set off an atomic bomb if the humans don’t win their battle against the apes. Mendez refuses, which is the start of the mutant cult that we saw in the Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Speaking of people named Mendez, this is the film that inspired Tony Mendez to create the operation “Argo” during the Iran hostage crisis. The film Argo dramatizes this tale, as Mendez traveled to Iran in disguise as a film producer and had the hostages disguised as a film crew in order to flee the country.  There’s a clip of this movie within that movie, showing the moment when Caesar, MacDonald and Virgil arrive in the Forbidden City.

Aldo plans a coup against Caesar and when Cornelius overhears, Aldo hacks off the tree branch he’s on, critically wounding the young ape. Kolp attacks, but the tide soon turns and he runs, leading Aldo to follow him and ruthlessly slaughter all of the retreating humans.

Aldo returns to try and take Caesar’s power, Virgil reveals that the milittary leader has broken the most sacred law – “Ape shall never kill ape.” Aldo falls to his death and he attempts to treat humans as equals.

In the future, the Lawgiver tells a mixed audience of young humans and apes, that their society still waits for a day when their world will no longer need weapons, as a closeup of a statue of Caesar cries a single tear.

Lew Ayres — who played Dr. Kildare in nine movies — also shows up as the orangutan Mandemus, the keeper of the weapons. The actor was a well-known pacifist, so there’s some resonance in how much the character believe that he must protect the weapons from the warlike gorillas. He believes that the guns are only for defense, not offense.

This would be the last theatrical Apes film for awhile, as producer Arthur P. Jacobs died a few days after the film’s release. As to the future of the Apes, stay tuned as we will soon get to the TV series that followed.