starts with an amusing four and a half minute talk from college
English professor Dr. Frank C. Baxter, in which he ruminates about
various crackpot "Hollow Earth" theories. This mini-lecture
on some of the sillier ideas postulated about our planet is an
indicator that this movie is not to be taken seriously.
When Dr. Baxter states that if we think about the film's implications,
it has much to say to us in the 20th century, I get my first chuckle
of many. I'd like to think this was slapped on the beginning of
the movie as a wink to the audience but it was probably done to
pad out the running time.
The actual story begins with archeologist Dr.
Roger Bentley (John Agar) working on a dig somewhere in Asia.
(That's as specific as the film gets!) He and his team find a
tablet fragment with indications of Sumerian origins. After a
small earthquake they are shown an unearthed ancient oil lamp
found at the base of a local mountain. Convinced of the possibility
of a major find, Bentley and Dr. Jud Bellamin (Hugh Beaumont)
mount an expedition to the mountain's summit. After much stock
climbing footage shades of 1951's Lost
Continent! they reach a high plateau scattered with crumbling
Sumerian buildings. When a member of the team falls into a deep
crevasse the men descend into the mountain and make the archeological
discovery of the century: a living Sumerian settlement cut off
from the world for thousands of years! Amazingly the inhabitants
have survived through the ages and maintained their culture and
history. Most of the population has become albino, with extremely
pale skin and a high sensitivity to bright light, while some have
'devolved' into hideous mole-like humanoids. These Mole Men are
used as slave labor and are treated horribly by their masters.
Using his still functioning flashlight, Bentley
convinces the rulers that he's a messenger from one of their gods
and starts romancing one of the rare Sumerian 'throwbacks' (i.e.,
normal-looking people), the slave girl Adad (Cynthia Patrick).
Adad is a stunner with surprisingly fine make-up skills and a
great hair stylist who takes to the manly Agar immediately. Good
Doctor Bentley has the idea that he can effect positive change
in these primitive people by keeping up the lie about being a
divine messenger. But the Sumerian's High Priest Elinu (Alan Napier)
begins to suspect the newcomers aren't what they claim to be after
the eldest of the team dies. Wishing to retain the power he has
over the king, Elinu has the two remaining archeologists drugged
and thrown into the city's execution chamber. But as this is being
done the devolved Mole Men rebel at last, allowing Bentley and
Bellamin to make good their escape with Adad in tow.
Silly, cheesy fun from start to finish, The
never resembles anything close to reality. When our heroes encounter
the Sumerians there is a very quick nod to Agars' ability to speak
the (very dead) language but then all the other members of the
party suddenly can as well. The mole men are treated as beasts
and constantly beaten but never use their digging ability to escape
their cruel masters. And of course, isn't Agar lucky to run across
that incredibly rare 'normal' girl to romance and rescue? But
with all the crazed fun this film offers it is Agar's character
that gives the film its entertaining highlights. Arrogant almost
to the point of annoyance, Bentley is so forward in the first
third of the movie that it felt like he'd be the villain of the
story. A pushy, arrogant ass, he really seems to be the guy most
likely to get a harsh comeuppance until the final third when he
slides jarringly into hero mode. I love the fact that the Sumerians
mistaken assumption of divine powers meshed so well with Bentley's
character. It didn't take much for him to start acting like a
deity. I'm surprised his swelled head didn't give off a radiance
of its own!
to the strangeness on display is some of the dumbest dialog of
any film of the period, with Agar getting the lion's share. That
he was able to utter lines like "In archeology all things are
possible" with a straight face shows real acting skill. I love
that someone asked an actor to say, "The thing that impresses
me the most is the complete and utter silence you can almost
hear it." I live for this kind of wackiness.
the right frame of mind The Mole People
is a blast and while never actually good, it still stands as a
great example of the qualities fans love about '50s science fiction
movies. It's very well produced, with all the right elements to
make it a fun Saturday afternoon matinee. I love this film the
way you love a not too bright pet that might chew up your shoes
but is simply too cute to strangle. They don't make them like
this any more... And maybe that's a good thing.