With Further Ado #268: Screams, Screens and the Planet of the Apes!

Fifty years ago this month, my brain exploded. So did the brains just about all my friends. And it was all because of what CBS did one Friday night.

In those days, when a movie was shown in the theater, there was a sense of urgency to see it. You never knew when you’d get the chance to see it again. Our ability to watch movies was at the whim of networks for when, and if, they’d re-broadcast a movie.

I’ve always thought this book, Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes by Andrew Gaska, was spectacular, especially with its Steranko cover and a bunch of wonderful interior illustrations.

Through the mid and late 60s, 20th Century Fox worked hard to develop a movie called Planet of the Apes. Rod Serling was called to help with early drafts of the movie. Much of his work morphed into something different, but his innovative twist ending, a commentary on the then-current world, made it to the final version which debuted on movie screens in 1968.

Later, Fox packaged this movie together with the sequels for CBS. The network broadcast it on conventional TV during an autumn Friday fifty years ago. I was too young to see this one in the theaters, but I was the perfect age to see it on TV.

Apes riding horse! A spaceship! A beach that looked a lot like Lake Ontario (where we’d spend time every summer)! Linda Harrison in a dried spinach swimsuit! “What could be better?” said my ten-year-old self.

We quickly set aside the “childish” games we’d play outdoors – like “Prison Break” or “Cowboys and Indians” – to instead play Apes vs. Humans. And we were mesmerized by the plethora of Planet of the Apes merchandise and would have spent every last quarter to collect more and more.

So here we are, fifty later. I’m the host of Screams & Screams, designed to showcase and celebrate old movies on the big screen locally. And this week it’s time to return to the Planet of the Apes! I’m almost as excited as my 10-year self was!



Here’s the official press release for Screams & Screens:

Auburn Public Theater’s B-Movie Series, Screams & Screens, returns with another new season, roaring back with the original Planet of the Apes. The October 10th showing will celebrated the movie’s 50th anniversary of its groundbreaking network television broadcast.

The fall season will include films from three decades of horror – the 50s, the 60s and the 70s. Tickets are only $6.00 on Tuesday nights for these 7:00 pm showings.

Planet of the Apes – October 10th: The 1968 film invaded America’s living rooms in the fall of 1973 and nothing was every the same again!
American Werewolf in London – October 31st: Kick off your Halloween night with this stylish comedy/horror film, combining Universal monster tropes, a killer soundtrack and witty dialog to create what may be the best werewolf movie ever.
Black Barbie – November 28th: As a counterpoint to the summer’s blockbuster, Barbie, Auburn Public Theater is proud to show this award-winning documentary.
The Ice Harvest – December 19th: – Certainly an unexpected “Holiday movie”, this noir thriller offers something completely different to movie fans who are looking for more than just “the usual” classics.

Local entrepreneur and pop culture expert Ed Catto curates each movie and provides a pre-show introduction and a post-show analysis of each film. “We’re so excited to be back,” reflects host Ed Catto. “We have a loyal local following, but also bring in fans from neighboring cities and counties. It’s almost more like throwing a party than screening a movie!”

Auburn and CNY businesses have also been extremely supportive. “Each showing traditionally offers several raffle prizes from local businesses, at no extra cost to ticketholders.

More information on all of Auburn Public Theater’s offerings can be found at http://auburnpublictheater.org.

Of note, J.C. Vaughn was another young kid who’s be enthralled by this movie over the years. And I’m grateful he granted us permission to use this brilliant Ryan Sook illustration, which was originally used for an edition of The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. Thanks, J.C. & Ryan!