Starring: John Agar, Hugh Beaumont, Nestor Paiva, Cynthia Patrick, Alan Napier, Rodd Redwing
Directed by: Virgil W. Vogel
Written by: László Görög
Original Year of Release: 1956
Distributor: Scream Factory
Run Time: 1hr, 17 min
What would prompt a modern audience to watch The Mole People? In all honesty, I have no idea. It is a throwback film to when the Universal Monsters ruled Saturdays at movie theatres and the more insane the premise, the more likely people were willing to watch. I for one never saw The Mole People, but I certainly recognized the film's stars. John Agar starred in two of my favorite John Wayne films (The Sands of Iwo Jima and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon). Hugh Beaumont was Ward Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver, so to see him in anything else was already enticing. Alan Napier is best known to the world as Alfred Pennyworth from the Batman 66 TV series, so I am ready to watch him play another character. After about five minutes into the film, I recognized that Nestor Paiva was also in The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Since this too was a Universal release, I started to wonder why this film was not included in all the various Universal Monster Box Sets that surface every third quarter or return from the grave when a new format is introduced. It really seems to be the black sheep of the bunch. Upon watching it, I noticed the setting is very different from castles, full moons, and graveyards, which happened to be a good thing.
Dr. Roger Bentley (Agar), Dr. Jud Bellamin (Beaumont) and Prof. Etienne Lafarge (Paiva) discover the remnants of a mutant five-millennia-old Sumerian civilization living beneath a glacier atop a mountain in Mesopotamia. They fall into a dark world where one ancient society dominates another and the three doctors have to find a way back to the surface. The title characters, the Mole People, are actually not the bad guys or the monsters, but slave labor to King Nazar (Rodd Redwing), Elinu, the High Priest (Napier), and their people. Their whole society lives unaware of the surface world and believes the three scientists are gods from up on high. This, of course, does not last long as Elinu eventually sees the men as a threat when they start asking the wrong questions. It's 77 minutes of great "B" picture fun that is a worthy inclusion to the Universal Monster family. The story runs the standard plot points of right and wrong, but to fully appreciate everything that director Virgil W. Vogel accomplished, I recommend watching the special features immediately afterward.
"Mushrooms and Madmen: The Making of THE MOLE PEOPLE" illuminates how a film of this nature came about. This short special feature (18:40) dives into the studio system of the day and how actors like John Agar and directors like Virgil W. Vogel made pictures like The Mole People. Not only did I find the budget-cutting use of stock footage fascinating, but also the revelation as to why a particular character died at the end, an ending that had to be changed all because of race issues. It's special features like these that allow all of us who love these type of movies to appreciate everything that went into crafting them. Yet, on the flip side, it is fun to laugh at their absurdity as well. Which is why Scream Factory included The Mole People Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode on the disc. A special feature I hope, when possible, they continue to include.
· Theatrical Trailer