Director: Virgil Vogel
Writer: Laszlo Gorog
Cast: John Agar, Cynthia Patrick, Hugh Beaumont, Alan Napier, Nestor Paiva, Phil Chambers, Rodd Redwing, and Robin Hughes
Composer: Joseph Gershenson
Release Date: 12/1956
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Following an introduction from Dr. Frank C. Baxter, an archaeological team led by Dr. Roger Bentley (John Agar) discovers a race of Sumerian albinos living underground. Able to control the Sumerians by shining a flashlight on them, Dr. Bentley and his colleagues are implored by High Priest Elinu (Alan Napier) to quell an uprising of humanoid mole creatures—slaves of the Sumerian people.
Arguably the weakest entry in Universal Studios’ lineup of monster movies, this offering deserves criticism for its wooden performances and abrupt, unsatisfying climax. The Mole People’s main narrative concept (i.e. a magnificent, albeit technologically primitive, civilization existing underneath the surface of Earth) should, however, be noted for its prominent usage in later science fiction films (e.g. Beneath the Planet of the Apes and both versions of The Time Machine).
When the expedition members crawl through an underground tunnel in search of Sumerian artifacts, the camera briefly focuses upon the peering eyes of a humanoid creature (later revealed to be a mole person)—a creepy, unsettling image that highlights, if only for a moment, The Mole People’s underlying theme of simultaneously fearing and exploring the unknown.
Marred by sluggish pacing and copious exposition, this production offers little opportunity for viewers to become acquainted with, let alone sympathize with, the titular mole people—a shortcoming that may prevent the audience from investing, at least beyond a surface level, in the slave rebellion subplot involving the aforementioned mole people and their albino captors.
Additionally problematic is the archaeologist portrayed by John Agar (whom creature feature buffs will recognize from Tarantula and Revenge of the Creature), whose lack of charisma and limited character depth serve to undermine his position as a strong, resourceful leader.
Trapped underground following Noah’s Flood, the Sumerians automatically assume that humans from an outside world must be “gods” rather than flesh-and-blood people—a commentary on the ignorant beliefs that often stem from man’s limited perception of reality.
The Mole People is a slow-moving, anti-climactic horror/adventure film by Universal Pictures. Especially disappointing are the eponymous mole people, who, prior to the final act, remain underutilized by screenwriter Laszlo Gorog.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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