Film / The Mole People

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The Mole People is a 1956 black-and-white sci-fi movie starring John Agar and Hugh Beaumont as archaeologists searching for remnants of the Sumerian civilization. After a monologue by an English professor essentially Lampshade Hanging that the movie is fiction, we're brought to unspecified Asia (probably the Himalayas) where the search is ongoing.

Unfortunately, an earthquake destroys the oldest extant record, but lo! The earthquake has also dislodged a fresh relic which a Sherpa boy dutifully brings the heroes.

The heroes, along with assistant Lafarge and a couple guides, head for the top of a huge mountain, where they find a ruined city. Unfortunately, disaster strikes and one guide plummets through a trap door to his death. To rescue him, everyone heads into the chasm opened up, but the rappelling process leads to another death and a cave-in.

It's thought that the remaining three are doomed, utterly doomed, but it turns out there's fresh air. The remaining passageway leads them to the underground city of the Sumerians. Said city is also populated by the eponymous Mole People, who are forced into labor for the Sumerians.

But what other secrets await? It turns out that the Mole People are not too happy about their fate, and also...there happens to be a beautiful blonde woman trapped in here, who is sort of an outcast. Can the intrepid scientists escape? Can Agar ever shut up? And will anyone find out the existence of the Sumerians?

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

The Mole People contains the following tropes:

  • Artistic License Biology: The film gets it right when Beaumont says that creatures living in low-light areas develop near-albinism and extreme light sensitivity. However, that doesn't explain why two minutes' exposure to sunlight makes them look like overcooked beef jerky. (For that matter, there had to be SOME form of lighting present or else the modern characters wouldn't have been able to function.)
  • Berserk Button: Don't drop the mushrooms.
  • Character Filibuster: Agar
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Adad is barefoot for the entire film.
  • Downer Ending: Only because of Executive Meddling (See below).
  • Dull Surprise: Not quite, but Agar has a very limited, very weird range.
  • God Guise: The Sumerians think the archaeologists are gods because they come from "the world above" and carry "the Fire of Ishtar" (a flashlight). Their worshiping of sunlight as the Fire could count as a Cargo Cult, as well.
  • Hollywood Evolution: Zigzagged. The albino, light-sensitive Sumerians actually make sense (there are species that developed pale skin and light blindness because they live in extreme darkness), but that doesn't explain how humans could somehow create a "forced degeneracy" (as Agar calls it) to turn some people into humanoid mole monsters.
  • Infinite Flashlight: Averted. The heroes' flashlight sees frequent use for their entire stay... which is why the batteries are dead when the villains try to use it in the finale.
  • Insufferable Genius: Agar plays the most annoying and smarmy archaeologist in some time.
  • The Load: Lafarge is an alternate Trope Namer. Later in the movie, he manages to graduate to The Millstone status.
  • Mr. Exposition: Agar again
  • Mole Men: The titular creatures.
  • Neutral Female: Adad.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The poster (as seen above) makes the mole creatures out to be the main antagonists, when the Sumerians are the real threat, and the moles actually help the heroes out for being kind to them.
  • Opening Monologue: By Professor Frank C. Baxter, a professor of English, telling the history of hollow earth beliefs in America.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Adad decides to inexplicably run back to a hole so she can be smooshed by a pillar.
    • Halfway between drawing their swords and trying to attack the Mole People, the Sumerian warriors apparently forget how swords work, simply running up to their foes with weapons raised and getting slaughtered to a man, without even a token effort at actually fighting.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The light from an ordinary flashlight is enough to subdue both Mole Men and Sumerians alike. In full sunlight the Sumerians (except the "marked ones" like Adad) quickly burn to death.
    • "No, light that's just slightly brighter than what we're used to!"

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