It should be noted in advance that this post talks about the ending of the 1968 film Planet of the Apes and contains spoilers.
In the ever long list of places to go and things to do here in California, filming locations are one of my favorite things to go out and visit. The Point Dume Beach, aka the “Forbidden Zone” from Planet of the Apes has been a place I’ve wanted to visit for some time, and we finally made it out there last Saturday, and boy what a day. In the days leading up to our visit I had been doing research on the location as well as rewatching my favorite show, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., and realized that Point Dume was also used in the episode “Bounty Hunters’ Convention”. Then I read that the location is also where Major Nelson finds Jeannie’s bottle in the Pilot of I Dream of Jeannie, another favorite show of mine!
I attempted to get shots that were similar in perspective, but nature has changed the location over the years, and we visited during high tide, that in itself made for quite the drama that played out later.
In The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.‘s episode “Bounty Hunters’ Convention” the lead Brisco and his companion Socrates, hear gunshots, and run down to the beach, where they see two other bounty hunters shooting at targets.
Later there is a chase that takes place along the water’s edge, ending when Brisco is able to tackle the other rider to the ground.
Point Dume Beach ends abruptly in a towering rock cliff, atop which is Point Dume itself, visible in the above photo. On the other side of this cliff is Pirate’s Cove Beach, a small, secluded beach that was used in Planet of the Apes. Prior to the shocking and horrific final moments of the film, Taylor goes with Cornelius, Zira, and Lucius to Cornelius’ dig site located within the area known as the “Forbidden Zone”, where later Dr. Zaius and others arrive to confront them. These moments were shot at Pirate’s Cove Beach. The location is somewhat difficult to get to, as there is no clear path to Pirate’s Cove. Planet of the Apes‘ crew constructed a bridge for actors and crew to reach the location. But today, visitors have to climb over large rocks to reach the small cove.
While some rocks along the beach itself have disappeared (either by nature or were Hollywood fakes) since Planet of the Apes filmed, it is easy to spy the large opening along the right in the above three photos. I called it the “Ghost Opening” as the opening resembles the shape of a ghostly figure with its arms raised. The photo of me in front of this wall is what caused us to become stranded on the beach. But more on that later.
On the first day of shooting, the actors had their make-up done at the studio, followed by a long car ride to the location, then they shot their scenes, only to return the studio to remove their make-up, all in all, a very long day. To save time and give some comfort to the actors, a helicopter was used for the remaining days of filming at the location. Roddy McDowell documented the process of both his make-up and arriving at the location with a home movie camera. At 18:33 you can see an overview of the location that McDowell took from the helicopter, followed by arriving at the location. His make-up process is showcased after these shots, and at 39:58 location filming resumes. The video offers a wonderful look behind the scenes.
Pirate’s Cove was also used for the final shot in the film featuring the Statue of Liberty, while the shots of Taylor riding up to it were shot on the opposite side of Point Dume, to offer an expansive beach behind him. I had a hard time finding distinguishing markers for the area where the Statue was later put in using a matte painting. It may be safe to assume that the film other mattes as well as possible fake rocks to differentiate the location some. Also, Mother Nature has changed the landscape somewhat, as there was evidence of relatively recent rock slides.
Point Dume Beach is located in Malibu, roughly 36 miles west of Los Angeles. There is close by parking for a fee, and if you walk along the beach you’ll spy the rocks that trickle out into the ocean that you climb over to reach Pirate’s Cove. The area is also a popular location for rock climbers.
Earlier in the post I mentioned there was a shot that resulted us getting stranded along the beach. If you follow me on Instagram, and watched my Insta-Stories last Saturday, then you already know what happened. But if you didn’t happen to catch them, I’ll explain. I insisted upon arriving early at the location to hopefully end up with less people in my shots, even though early was also high tide. Patrick was forced to take the photo of me in front of the “Ghost Opening” in the area where the tide was coming in and out. During a time when he was running back up out of the tide, our keys fell out of his pocket. I tried to shout that they had fallen, but he couldn’t hear me over the roar of the ocean, and by the time he understood what happened, the tide rolled in, and the ocean made off with our keys. We waited for a little while to see if they would show back up, but they didn’t. As we have remote keys (for both locking and starting our car) we knew it would be a process to have keys made to say nothing of eventually getting back into our apartment. We did some calling, and found out the cost of having a new key made, while keeping in mind the process of having a locksmith come out to unlock the car to put it into neutral for it to then be towed to a dealership, as the car must be present to be electronically paired with the key. We then looked into getting a ride of some sort, either a cab, or Lyft, to go back to our place, have our manager let us into our apartment, and grabbing our spare keys, and then getting said ride back to Malibu. It’s important to mention we live in Orange, over 60 miles from Malibu. When no one from Lyft wanted to pick us up, and knowing a regular cab would be far more costly, we decided to call a friend to see if they would give us the ride we so desperately needed. She came up with the idea to see if our manager would let her into our apartment to retrieve our spare keys, and then driving to us, and giving us the keys. This plan thankfully worked, and I can honestly say it is one of the best things a friend has ever done for me. I owe her a great deal in both gas money and a dinner in the very near future. So, thank you, Kaitlyn for literally saving us! With our keys returned to us, we resumed shooting back at Pirate’s Cove, and thankfully by that time the tide was lower, the lighting had also changed some, which is why there is some color disparities between some photos.