Planet of the Apes Wiki

John Landis is an American director, screenwriter and actor born in Chicago, who played the role of Jake's friend in Battle for the Planet of the Apes.

Landis' uncle was a friend of Darryl F. Zanuck, president of Twentieth Century Fox, and in 1969 John Landis was working in the Fox mail room when Beneath the Planet of the Apes was in production. Landis used to visit John Chambers in his lab, and he then cast Chambers in his low-budget sci-fi spoof directorial debut movie Schlock (1973). Chambers had a cameo in one scene in this Trieste Science Fiction Film Festival winner, playing a captain of the National Guard, while future Planet of the Apes makeup artist Rick Baker played one of the many National Guardsmen, and also created the ape-like 'Schlockthropus', played by Landis himself. Landis went on the Jonny Carson Show to promote it. There, Arthur P. Jacobs saw him and offered him a bit-part in Battle.[1]

Shortly afterwards, the young film-maker told 'Famous Monsters' Magazine, "Before I was through with my part, I was thinking nostalgically of the days when I was portraying a Schlockthropus. Yes, [it was awfully hot and uncomfortable in the suit Rick Baker created], but when I got mixed up with the rebel gorillas, my scenes got pretty violent. They were jumping on me, stomping me, grabbing me by my long hair - and that was just in the rehearsals! A director never knows just how much violence he'll want in his completed cut or how much will be allowed by the time his film reaches the screen, or if a toned-down version will be required for television so they shot my scenes several ways, each more violent than the last! The European version was bad enough but when they shot it for Japan... when I struggled painfully to my feet after that scene, I felt like not only had Godzilla squashed me or King Kong put his foot down on me... but like the entire population of Tokyo and a few people in from the suburbs had run over me - and I don't mean with rickshaws."[2]

John Chambers was among those suspected of creating the Sasquatch in the famous Patterson/Gimlin 'Bigfoot' film, but he denied this. The rumour seems to have originated with John Landis. Rick Baker, a close friend of Landis, was also known to have informed people that Chambers was responsible for the Patterson/Gimlin costume but has more recently admitted he was probably mistaken. (See also: ape costume expert Janos Prohaska's opinion of the famous footage.)

John Landis went on to direct Animal House, The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf in London (starring David Naughton) and Burke and Hare (starring Andy Serkis), among other films. It is understood that he offered to rescue Adam Rifkin's Planet of the Apes revival film project by serving as executive producer around 1991, but was firmly turned down by Fox's Joe Roth.[3]

External links


  1. John Chambers Tribute - 'Makeup Magazine' (1997)
  2. Battle for the Planet of the Apes - 'Famous Monsters of Filmland' #108 (July 1974)
  3. Ape Crazy #2 (1992)