US film (1956). Universal-International Pictures. Produced by William Alland. Directed by Virgil W Vogel. Written by László Görög. Mole Creature masks by Jack Kevan. Cast includes John Agar, Frank Baxter (introduction only as narrator), Hugh Beaumont, Phil Chambers, Alan Napier, Nestor Paiva and Cynthia Patrick. 77 minutes. Black and white.
The film begins with Dr Frank Baxter delivering a short speech on the Hollow Earth theories of John Symmes and others, informing the audience that the story to follow could well be true. After discovering an ancient cuneiform tablet in Mesopotamia which relates the story of a Sumerian colony in the Himalayan Mountains, Dr Bentley (Agar) sets off to search for it with his team of archaeologists. They soon find ancient ruins, then an entrance to a Lost World deep underneath these ruins: the remnants of a Sumerian colony, complete with humanoid Monsters called Mole Men. These creatures are used as a slave-labour force, harvesting mushrooms which form the main ingredient of their diet. As the Sumerians have become albinos from ages living in dim light Underground, the visitors are at first taken as gods (see Gods and Demons), largely because their flashlight keeps the mole creatures at bay. They are told that the Sumerians' ancestors fled catastrophic floods, first to the mountains, then underground to escape the harsh climate. One young Sumerian woman, Adad (Patrick), has been born with normal skin coloration, considered an evil omen; she is to soon be sacrificed to the Eye of Ishtar. This is simply a natural opening from the surface which allows sunlight to enter – fatal to the albinos since they have lost tolerance. One of the visiting Scientists is killed by a mole creature, causing the High Priest Elinu (Napier) to realize they are not gods: after seizing their flashlight, whose batteries are losing power, he orders them sent to the Eye of Ishtar. They survive, of course, as does Adad, and escape to the surface as the mole creatures finally rebel and destroy their masters. A stone column in the ruins falls, however, and kills Adad, in keeping with the usual reluctance of such films to let members of a lost world reach modern civilization. Mole-creature masks became a popular Halloween item for some years in the USA. [GSt]
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