Traumafessions :: Kinderpal FilmFather on Escape from the Planet of the Apes

As a child of the’70s, I was immersed in the popularity of the PLANET OF THE APES film series. I had the coloring book, I watched the animated TV show, I played with the action figures

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:

Thx guys,

Eric aka FilmFather

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unkle lancifer
12 years ago

Thanks for the traumafession Filmfather! 

By the way, you have a kindred spirit in John Kenneth Muir who had a similar kindertraumatic reaction to Escape from the Planet of the Apes and poor Zira’s death…

12 years ago

Yeah, the climax is very upsetting. I also got weirded out by the coda with the real baby saying “Mama.”

12 years ago

As a child I saw the original, “Beneath”, “Conquest”, and “Battle for the Planet of the Apes”.  For some reason I never saw “Escape” except for the ending with the future Ceasar saying “Mama” over & over.  I too found that a bit unsettling.  I would see the entire film when in my 20’s & even at that age I found the whole ending upsetting.  BTW, my childhood “Ape trauma” was in “Conquest” when Ceasar was tortured by electrocution to speak.  His ape screams were VERY UNNERVING!!!!

12 years ago

My dad used to watch these movies all the time. It seemed like every time I tried to watch them as well, something horrible would occur and make me vow to never watch another.  I still haven’t seen any of them all the way through.  He laughs about it, being that I’m into Fulci and Miike, but can’t stand anything Planet of the Apes.

12 years ago

I always thought the reason Zira pushed the baby over board was to keep the human scientists from cutting up the infant. Remember how appalled Taylor was when he discovered they (Zira and Cornelius) experimented on humans ?