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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

THE MOLE PEOPLE (1956)

Saturday matinee horror fare for the kiddies, cheaply made, but not despicable. Eager archaeologist John Agar and bored colleague Hugh Beaumont (pre-LEAVE IT TO BEAVER) uncover a gaping hole on a mountaintop that leads them to a mysterious underground civilization . . . with monsters, but no way out! Fun, and with cool allegorical feints at racial & gender equality since the place is run by an all-male albino nobility who lord it over pigmented lady acolytes and worker colony reptilian slaves in a state of constant violent revolt. Creepy looking things, clawing thru earthen walls on guerrilla attacks, yet more misunderstood then evil. The film’s ultra-tight budget makes for some poorly integrated matte paintings & model shots, just as it leaves a few cataclysmic events (like the merely suggested earthquaking finale) as ‘noises-off’ effects. But if newbie megger Laszlo Gorog can’t quite rouse his cast or freshen up his few ‘standing’ sets, he’s not unaware of the possibilities for nifty dissolve transitions in editing near-blackout cave wanderings. All told, a relatively spirited goof that’s both fun . . . and fun to make fun of.

DOUBLE-BILL: Better financed, with bigger names, purpose-built sets & color, THE LOST WORLD/’60 and THE TIME MACHINE/’60 work much the same territory.

CONTEST: There’s another film from three or four years later that also might well be called THE MOLE PEOPLE, but in WideScreen and color. It’s got a terrific trailer with lots of guys running over a blasted landscape and jumping into rabbit holes for safety. Whatever is it? Come up with the title to win a MAKSQUIBS movie Write-Up of your choice.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: . . . by you! Another ‘50s Universal film shot in Open Matte-Full Frame (1.37:1), but meant for cropping by the projectionist (via aperture plate or black screen framing scrims) down to about 1.85:1. The DVD gives you the full frame image, but ‘push-in’ one notch for DIY theatrical enlarging (sometimes called FULL). Just don’t use a 16 x 9 setting (sometimes called FILL) as the anamorphic stretch will fatten up the image.

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