Posted Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, at 6:28 PM
On Friday, the latest installment of the proliferant Planet of the Apes franchise hits theaters. Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot set in present-day San Francisco, is the seventh in the series, not counting television spin-offs.
The Planet of the Apes storyline clearly entices sober-minded filmmakers concerned about mankind's self-destructive nature. The series—or the original 1968 film, at least—also has endlessly quotable catchphrases, a ridiculous (and iconic) closing image, and, of course, the inimitable vocal stylings of Charlton Heston, making it one of the most perfect parody subjects in pop culture history. In honor of the new film, here are six of the finest POTA spoofs.
“Return to Beneath the Planet of the Pigs”
In this sketch from the 1975 variety special The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence, a Muppet that bears a striking resemblance to Gene Shalit reviews the seventh film in the series of “pseudo epics”—proving that the Muppets can see the future. (At the time, five films had been released.) This clip includes an early version of Miss Piggy, before she got her distinctive big blue eyes.
“Planet of the Dogs”
Perhaps the writers of The Critic, the beloved but short-lived animated series about a portly, two-bit film reviewer, had the Muppets in mind when they penned this 1995 parody, which features the immortal line, “Dr. Zaius, quit sniffing my butt.” (Watch from around 1:49.)
"Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want To Get Off!"
The most famous cartoon POTA parody came the following year, when handsome has-been Troy McClure starred in a musical theater adaptation on The Simpsons. Warning: If it hasn’t already been lodged there for the last 15 years, you will never get “Dr. Zaius” out of your head. This version found on YouTube is all the more wonderful for having partially over-dubbed in Spanish.
This is, of course only one of many allusions the show has made to the film over the years.
The paragon of film parodies, at least to nerds of a particular vintage. In this 1987 Star Wars spoof, a spaceship shaped like a giant maid blows up, and her head and a part of her arm (still clutching the handle of her vacuum cleaner) hurtle onto the beach of a far-off planet. 2005’s kiddie flick Madagascar also featured an allusion to the Statue of Liberty scene, but with more delicate expletives.
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
The best POTA parodies seem to come from TV shows and filmmakers that are themselves endlessly quotable. In this 2001 film from Clerks director Kevin Smith, long-running secondary doofuses Jay and Silent Bob rescue an ape from an animal testing facility, only to have Jay freak out about how dangerous the experimented-upon primate must be, setting him off on a long, delirious rant.
Planeta dos Homens
Planeta dos Homens (Planet of the Men) was a Brazilian sketch comedy show that began airing in the late ’70s. According to the Planet of the Apes wiki The Sacred Scrolls, the political satire’s framing conceit is that a bunch of super-intelligent apes come to Earth to figure out why humankind can’t solve any of its problems. The Sacred Scrolls notes that the opening sequence became one of the most famous in Brazilian television. We can sort of see why.