The Mole People
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|The Mole People|
Poster by Joseph Smith
|Directed by||Virgil Vogel|
|Produced by||William Alland|
|Written by||László Görög|
The Mole People is a 1956 American black-and-white science fiction horror film distributed by Universal International, which was produced by William Alland, directed by Virgil W. Vogel, and stars John Agar, Hugh Beaumont, and Cynthia Patrick. The story is written by László Görög. The film was released on December 1, 1956, on a double feature with their jungle adventure film Curucu, Beast of the Amazon. It has also been featured on an episode on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
A narration by Dr. Frank Baxter, an English professor at the University of Southern California, explains the premise of the movie and its basis in reality. He briefly discusses the hollow earth theories of John Symmes and Cyrus Teed among others, and says that the movie is a fictionalized representation of these unorthodox theories.
Archaeologists Dr. Roger Bentley and Dr. Jud Bellamin find a race of Sumerian albinos living deep under the Earth. They keep mutant humanoid mole men as their slaves to harvest mushrooms, which serve as their primary food source because mushrooms can grow without sunlight (although the principles of thermodynamics would in reality prevent a fungus-based diet or other diet without input from photosynthesis from being sustainable on a trans-generational basis). The Sumerian albinos' ancestors relocated into the subterranean after cataclysmic floods in ancient Mesopotamia. They believe the men are messengers of Ishtar, their goddess. Whenever their population increases, they sacrifice old people to the Eye of Ishtar. These people have lived underground for so long that they are weakened by bright light which the archaeologists brought in the form of a flashlight. However, there is one girl named Adad who has natural Caucasian skin who is disdained by the others since she has the "mark of darkness."
When one of the archaeologists is killed by a mole person, Elinu, the High Priest, realizes they are not gods. He orders their capture and takes the flashlight to control the Mole People, not knowing it is depleted. The archaeologists are then sent to the Eye of Ishtar just as the Mole People rebel. Adad goes to the Eye only to realize it is really natural light coming from the surface and that the men had survived. They then climb to the surface. Unfortunately, Adad dies after reaching the surface when an earthquake causes a column to fall over and crush her.
- John Agar as Dr. Roger Bentley
- Cynthia Patrick as Adad
- Hugh Beaumont as Dr. Jud Bellamin
- Alan Napier as Elinu, the High Priest
- Nestor Paiva as Prof. Etienne Lafarge
- Phil Chambers as Dr. Paul Stuart
- Rodd Redwing as Nazar
- Robin Hughes as First Officer
- Frank Baxter as Himself
Universal first released The Mole People on VHS on June 30, 1993. Then, in 2006, the film was then released on DVD in a boxed set called The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection, which features 4 other films (Tarantula, The Incredible Shrinking Man, The Monolith Monsters, and Monster on the Campus). Universal then re-released this film in 2015 as a stand-alone DVD as part of its Universal Vault Series. Shout Factory's 2019 Blu-ray release includes an audio commentary by Tom Weaver, David Schecter and Jan Alan Henderson, plus other extras. There is also a Region 2 DVD release of this film.
In other media
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This movie was featured on the television program Mystery Science Theater 3000. The characters respond to the abrupt and unsatisfying ending by bitterly declaring "And no one trusted a John Agar movie again."; the ending was changed from a typical happily-ever-after scenario because members of the studio felt that Bentley's romance with Adad would promote interracial relationships.
A segment of this movie was used for the 1968 movie The Wild World of Batwoman, as creatures created by one of the movie's villains. This use was itself parodied by Mystery Science Theater 3000, with Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo mocking the classic slogan for Reese's Peanut Butter cups followed by Mike Nelson imitating the movie's villain, proclaiming "That's enough of THAT film."
The fictionalized Mesopotamian history presented by the movie is based largely on Panbabylonism, as both Sumerian and Judaic stories describe the same events of the movie. Dr. Bentley states that the Biblical flood is an established archaeological fact, and the stranding of the Sumerians atop the mountain is a reference to the tale of Noah's Ark.
Similarly to the protagonists of the movie Ishtar descends to the underworld. There is a Panbabylonic connection between Ishtar's descent and the Old Testament story of Joseph. The descent to the underworld is a common story of world mythologies, as is the flood myth.
The movie erroneously associates Ishtar and the Sumerians. Ishtar was the Babylonian counterpart of the Sumerian goddess Inanna. The imagery associated with Ishtar in the movie is entirely fictional: Ishtar's symbol was an eight-pointed star representing Venus rather than the uneven chevron in the movie. Viewers might also notice that all of the gods depicted on the temple walls are Egyptian, not Sumerian.
Adad is an Akkadian (male) storm-god, counterpart to the Sumerian Ishkur.
- Mole Man (1961), character from the Marvel Universe
- McGee, Mark Thomas; Robertson, R.J. (2013). "You Won't Believe Your Eyes". Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-273-2. Page 254
- Gods, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary by Jeremy Black and Anthony Green (1992, ISBN 0-292-70794-0), p. 156, pp. 169–170.
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