Mole People is one of those ’50s B-movies that is a better poster than a film, which is often the case—especially when the B-movie in question was a studio production rather than a scuzzy indie production. The film has since lent its name to the real-life phenomenon of homeless people who live in subway tunnels, the most well-known example of this is the community that lives in the Freedom Tunnel in New York City, as depicted the documentary Dark Days.
The mole people of the 1956 film’s title, however, are mutant mole humanoids who are kept as slaves by Mesopotamian (Modern day Southern Iraq) albinos and forced to harvest mushrooms. These albino slave masters live under the earth, some archaeologists discover them, and the whole plot idea was inspired by the amusing and totally bogus hollow earth theory, which had some popularity during the first half of the 20th century. The film also features the inspired and funny line: “Have you ever heard of anybody smoking dried mushrooms? Aww, skip it,”—of course dried Psilocybin mushrooms have psychedelic properties, although they are not smoked.
Overall it’s luckily under 80 minutes, and the opening, which goes for quite a bit about real-life hollow earth theories, is very amusing. It’s pure ‘50s gold, with the actor playing a scientist speaking directly to the audience—so it must be true! Unfortunately, the 70 minutes or so doesn’t totally live up to the promising B-movie premise of albinos keeping mutant mole humanoids, although there is, of course, a slave girl who becomes a love interest for one of the archaeologists. The film may have inspired the creation of the Marvel Comics supervillain Mole Man, who started life off as a crackpot hollow-earth scientist.