You know what can ruin a visit to the beach? Finding someone’s trash strewn all over the place. Especially if “someone” is your own long-dead civilization and the “trash” is the ruins of the Statue of Liberty. Time-traveling astronaut Charlton Heston experiences this infamous, ultimate bummer at the end of the initial Apes movie. It’s one of the great surprise twists/reveals of all-time, though if it weren’t for his own xenophobia (simianophobia?), Heston’s Taylor might have caught on a lot sooner that he’d landed not on some strange world but on a post-apocalyptic Earth.
It’s a terrific ending, one that might have provided a good Twilight Zone-ish close if the film had just been a one-off. But as the still-ongoing series of sequels and prequels indicates, we just can’t stop monkeying with genetics, history, zoology, and the secrets we thought we’d buried in the sand.