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The Mole People (Blu-ray Review)

Here we go with more of Scream Factory’s dive into Universal’s classic catalog of more radioactive horror features. The Mole People is an honest classic of this era. They’ve actually put together a new Making Of documentary for it which is really cool. And, like a previous elder horror title The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, they’ve included the original Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode that riffed on it. To me, that’s ultimate cool bonus. Basque in its restoration, but typically, just go back the MST3K version. This one lands at the end of the month on February 26th. Get your Amazon pre-orders in now to ensure you receive on the day of release.

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Film 

Three archaeologists discover the remnants of a mutant five-millennia-old Sumerian civilization living beneath a glacier atop a mountain in Mesopotamia. The party of archeologists come upon an unusual race of albino beings who shun all forms of light and have mutant mole men as their slaves. Because of their “magical cylinders of fire” (what we know as flashlights), these archaeologists are treated like gods – until they try to liberate the mole people. Can the archaeologists escape this hallowed mountain in Asia … or will they be destroyed in a strange underground world?

With the option available, I’m not sure who would choose to watch The Mole People without the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crutch at their disposal. But, here we are. Its a film that’s chock full of some stock footage and low end production, but does have its own impressive moments. The funny part here is that going into the film you would expect the mole people of the title to be the monsters in the film that appear on the poster and advertising campaign. Its actually not, its these Egyptian folk that have been living underground for eons and then they just so happen to have these slaves that are the monsters. And odd trade off, but that’s part of the goofiness abound.

There is some charm with this bit of cheese, but it really only lasts so long. Its a film doing its best on limited resources and to a degree you have to admire what they were able to accomplish it. However, this film itself was a turning point for Universal’s horror department where quality was less of a concern and making a quick, cheap buck without spending anything was priority number one. And this tactic worked for them. And I mentioned MST3K already, but I suppose we should be thankful for this step in Universal’s process as it provided the show with plenty of quality material during its run. I still hold strong though, that going to the episode and having the riffs there is the prime way to enjoy The Mole People.

Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 or 2.00:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Scream Factory brings The Mole People to Blu-ray with no real details of the transfer. However, the print is in pretty good shape (Stock footage inserts notwithstanding) which easily delivers a very nice looking picture. It has a healthy, well-sustained layer of grain which allows for a more naturally detailed and crisper picture.

Depth:  Depth is pretty average, with solid spacing when well lit between foreground and background. Motions are smooth and cinematic with no notable distortions.

Black Levels: Blacks are plenty rich and presented in a good deep fashion here with no crushing issues present. With the cleanliness of the print, grain is consistent and not heavier like some elder films of the black and white era can be.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: A consistent white throughout. Facial features fare best in closeups, though medium shots do find some appealing amounts of detail in many spots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: The mono track here does the trick for the movie. The mix is well balanced. When it comes to the most impacting aspect, its definitely the score which can bring a commanding presence at times. There is a nice, complimentary hiss coming from its analog source still in play which isn’t too loud or distracting. Just adding a bit of character to the experience.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are solid and do carry an analog hiss to them.

Extras 

Audio Commentary

  • With film historians Tom Weaver and David Schecter

Mushrooms and Madmen: The Making of THE MOLE PEOPLE (HD, 18:40) – As told by a pair of authors, you get a retrospective history on Universal Studios during this era and all the aspects of the project itself, the beginning of a quality decline and cheaply produced time in the sci-fi/horror genre. It includes audio dramatic recreations of quotes from people who worked on the film.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode “The Mole People” 2/15/97 (SD, 1:32:00)

Posters And Lobby Cards Still Gallery (HD, 4:33)

Photo Gallery (HD, 4:16)

Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2:00)

Summary 

The Mole People is some b-level horror from the radioactive era of yesteryear, much of which hasn’t aged very well, including this one. You have to have a certain understanding or appreciation for these. For me, I need the MST3K for the film, but for some, they can take this punch right to the face with no boxing glove one. Scream Factory brings it to Blu-ray in a delightful presentation to go with some very cool extras. I’m not sure its current price is worth pulling the trigger, but good work has been put into this warranting a little bit of a premium in pricing.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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