Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Overlooked Movies -- The Mole People

Some people say this is the worst of the B-movies of the '50s, but, hey, it's not even the worst B-movie John Agar ever made.  It's pretty bad, though.

If you watched the trailer below, you saw the great line about how "Here is Terror to Shatter Your Nerves."  Let's get something straight right now.  This movie wasn't scary when I saw it in the '50s.  The audience then got just as big a kick out out how cheesy it was as an audience now would.

One reason I liked this one was that it's a part of the Lost Civilization genre, and I've always been attracted to stories like that.  There's a nice little build-up to the discovery of the underground kingdom, including the prologue, a great lecture on the hollow earth by a college English prof.

Once in the underground, Agar and Hugh Beaumont (yes, the Beav's dad) find a race of albinos who use the mole people as their slaves.  It's no wonder the Mole People don't like them.  They also do away with their older population by sacrificing them to Ishtar (not the movie, the goddess).  Alan Napier is their leader, in his pre-Alfred the Butler days.

Yes, it's slow.  Yes, the alleged acting is pretty bad.  Yes, the Mole People look like guys in rubber masks.  Yes, this is what passed for entertainment in the '50s.  Count your blessings, whippersnappers.


Anonymous said...

Well, they are guys in rubber masks! And no, it's not the worst John Agar movie by a long way:

Attack of the Puppet People
Zontar: The Thing From Venus
Women of the Prehistoric Planet (which Jackie always called Planet of the Prehistoric Women)
and the hiseously awful Curse of the Swamp Creature

Isn't it about time for a John Agar Film Festival, or at least a couple of Nicolas Cage remakes?


Unknown said...

I think Zontar is the worst.

Anonymous said...

Definitely. Although Swamp Creature did feature John Carradine as well.


Deb said...

This movie was also shown as a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode--always the sign of quality cinema!

When John Agar was arrested for drunk driving, he told the judge it was because his marriage to Shirley Temple was falling apart. The judge was incensed and told Agar not to ever blame America's sweetheart for his drinking problem!

Anonymous said...

I remember, as a kid, being impressed with the explanation for the mysterious arrow-point symbol of the Ishtar cult. Did you notice that all the Ishtarians in the movie look like Commander Data?
Art Scott

Unknown said...

He should've blamed the movies.

Unknown said...

I hadn't noticed that, Art, but I'm sure I'll never see them again without thinking it.

Todd Mason said...

As WIKIPEDIA currently has it:

Women of the Prehistoric Planet is a 1966 film. It was featured in the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1989.
Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women is a 1968 movie with a similar name.

WPP, as part of the Arthur C. Pierce corpus of potted, bootlessly ambitious skiffy films from the 1960s, at least like the rest of these only moreso has a number of pretty actresses. This might be the only positive thing one can say about it.

Unknown said...

Believe it or not, several of those will be showing up in the trailers here.

Mike Doran said...

That wasn't just any "college English prof".

That was Dr. Frank Baxter, the jolly interlocutor of the Bell Science Specials, which, if we didn't see them first on TV, we saw them in our high school science classes.

So when we saw the scholarly Dr. B. on the Late Late show talking up this schlocky flock ...

... what would be the modern day equivalent?
Something like, say, Bill Kurtis introducing Will Ferrel's Anchorman?

As a proud Chicagoan, I feel compelled to point that even before MST3K, our very own Son Of Svengoolie (as he was known back in the '80s, still just local, on ch32) showed The Mole People - and put himself in the prologue with Dr. Baxter, turning it into a debate!
(I wonder if anyone saved that tape ...)