But amongst all that ape-lovin’, a Traumafession of mine was born: the ending of 1971’s ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES.
In this third installment, Cornelius and Zira land on present-day Earth from the future, and they’re soon treated like celebrities: police escorts, shopping sprees, new threads, swank parties, speaking at the United Nations…it’s all very lighthearted and fun.
But when Zira has a baby, an evil doctor named Hasslein fears that intelligent ape procreating will lead to the apes taking over, and he decides the baby must be killed.
Cornelius and Zira switch their baby with a baby chimp from the local circus, and flee to an abandoned oil tanker for the film’s finale…which is where the movie gets real dark, real fast.
Hasslein shoots Zira, then — in extreme close-up — puts about 4 or 5 rounds into the swaddled baby. (Yes, it’s a baby chimp, and you can’t see it, but the idea of shooting a baby was still shocking for my childhood eyes to take in.)
After shooting Hasslein, Cornelius is then shot by the military, and lets out a sick gurgling growl before plummeting from the top of the tanker to the deck below.
THEN, Zira dumps the baby’s body overboard (which I still don’t understand, but is still a harrowing display), crawls to Cornelius, lies across his body, and they both die. The end.
The best part? Despite this violent and bleak ending, ESCAPE is RATED G!
You can see video of the above carnage here (starting at the 5:30 mark), but it’s interrupted by the guy reviewing the film and it loses some of its impact:
Eric aka FilmFather