Friday, October 17, 2014

The Mole People

You wouldn't believe the week I've had.  So I won't even bother trying to tell you about it.  Suffice to say that it wasn't great.  It was a bloody trial, in fact.  So much so that it has left me exhausted and incapable of remembering what I was going to post about today.  Instead, we'll look at another random move trailer:

Kicking off with a bizarre 'educational' prologue featuring Dr Frank C Baxter, The Mole People is part Universal's attempts to establish a pantheon of new monsters in the fifties.  Whilst an interesting design and concept, the Mole People proved less successful than Universal's contemporaneous Creature From the Black Lagoon, who got two sequels and became a household name.  Unlike the Creature, the Mole People are ultimately secondary to the main lost civilisation plot, (it's notable that, such was the pace of exploration, by the mid-fifties you had to go underground, into the 'hollow earth' to find lost civilisations, whereas barely ten years before you had only to venture into the jungle to stumble over them), and are servile to the main villains.  Consequently, they lacked the Creature's menace.

Post war, Universal, once a prolific producer of B-movies, horror flicks and serials, turned its back on its heritage and tried to move upmarket with more prestigious A-list productions.  By the fifties, the balance sheet dictated a return to more populist, mass--market and modestly budgeted fare.  Noting the popularity on TV of their classic monster movies, (including Frankenstein, Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy and their various sequels), their thoughts naturally turned to creating new monsters for a new generation of film goers.  As already noted, of the new creatures, only the one from the Black Lagoon really captured the public imagination and it is notable that the most successful and memorable of this new cycle of Universal horrors (such as Tarantula and It Came From Outer Space) were, like the first two Creature films, directed by Jack Arnold.   Sadly, The Mole People was directed by Virgil W Vogel, a more workmanlike director (also responsible for Universal's 'Lost World' picture The Land Unknown).  Consequently, it stands as a reasonably entertaining, but uninspiring B picture.



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