THE PLANET OF THE APES franchise gets a fancy CG reboot this week (see our review), so here's a quick primer on the previous films. Beware the beast called man!
Planet of the Apes (1968)—Astronaut Taylor (Charlton "Cold Dead" Heston) crash lands on a planet where apes are the dominant species and feral humans are hunted for sport. Features a smart screenplay by Rod Serling and the single best goddamn twist ending in movie history ever. Enjoy a classic parable about subjugation and the nature of mankind while debating which sex crime you'd be guilty of if you took a pre-lingual Homo sapiens girl as your "wife."
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)—In this hastily thrown-together sequel, another astronaut (James Franciscus) is sent to rescue Taylor (hunh?) and finds him living underground with a secret society of mutated humans who have magical powers or some fucking thing. Oh! And the planet blows up.
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)—Cornelius and Zira, two loveable chimp scientists from the first movie, end up in 20th century America because of time travel and space and stuff. They immediately become celebrities!!!!! But then they get killed and their baby gets stole by the gub'ment. Highlights (?) include a long, Pretty Woman-style shopping montage, but with monkeys. No, really, that happens.
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)—Aww, man. Shit just got real. In the crazy futuristic world of the 1980s, smart monkeys have been bred or cloned or something, and now every household has one and, wait—oh shit, slavery allegory! Cornelius and Zira's boy Caesar (Roddy McDowall) goes all Huey P. Guevara and leads a hyper-violent gorilla slave uprising that's exactly as awesome as it sounds. Also: Ricardo Montalban. (For the full experience, I recommend the director's cut, featuring the controversial "kill whitey" ending.)
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)—Caesar, now ape number one, is embroiled in a power struggle with political rival Aldo. Caesar wants to be nice to the humans, whereas Aldo says fuck that shit.
Planet of the Apes (2001)—This is also a movie.