The Mole People (1956)

A hollow earth movie that posits an underground civilization created by Sumerian descendants who worship Ishtar. Never mind that Sumerians and Ishtar have no connection and the true symbol of Ishtar is an eight-pointed star, not to mention that all of the gods in this movie are really Egyptian. But hey — it does have the great flood symbolizing the journey to the underworld and was probably influenced somewhat by the Shaver Mysteries that dominated Amazing Stories from 1945 to 1948 (see Beyond Lemuria and Encounters with the Unknown for more film evidence of the Shavers, the hole to hell and Lemuria itself).

I absolutely love that this movie starts with an introduction from University of Southern California English professor Dr. Frank Baxter, who explains the premise of the film and how it may have some basis in reality. How many movies take the time to discusses the hollow earth theories of John Symmes — whose Hollow Earth theory taught that our world is mae up of five concentric spheres, with the outer earth and its atmosphere as the largest — and Cyrus Teed — a physician and alchemist who became a self-proclaimed messiah, taking on the name Koresh and proposing a new set of scientific and religious ideas he called Koreshanity, which taught that our planet and sky exist inside the surface of a larger sphere.

Archaeologists Dr. Roger Bentley (John Agar) and Dr. Jud Bellamin (Hugh Beaumont, Beaver’s dad) have found the hollow earth and meet the Sumerian albinos and their mutant mole man slaves*, who all eat mushrooms because why not? Whenever they start having too many people, they stop overcrowding by sacrificing women to the Eye of Ishtar. But everyone — other than a girl named Adad — is so sensitive to light that the fact that the scientists have a flashlight must mean that they are gods. Oh yeah — Ellnu, the High Priest, is played by Alan Napier, who would soon enough be Batman’s faithful butler Alfred.

This was Virgil Vogel’s first film, which he would follow up with The Kettles on Old MacDonald’s Farm and Invasion of the Animal People before a career mostly spent in television.

For some reason, Adad is unceremoniously crushed before the end of the movie, just when she gets near the surface and nearly escapes. Supposedly, Universal thought that Bentley’s romance with Adad would promote interracial relationships. Never mind that John Agar and Cynthia Patrick were both white. They reshot the new ending where she gets smashed and that was that.

*Footage of these big eyed guys was used in The Wild World of Batwoman.

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