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The Mole People [Blu-ray]
(Virgil W. Vogel, 1956)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Universal International Pictures (UI)
Video:i-catcher Media (Anolis Film Entertainment)
Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 22,557,413,544 bytes
Feature Size: 21,277,556,736 bytes
Video Bitrate: 31.34 Mbps
Case: Black slim Blu-ray case
Release date: April 17th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 2.0:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DUB: DTS-HD Master Audio German 1627 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1627 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1564 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1564 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• German Trailer (1:58)
Description: The Mole People holds the dubious distinction of being the weakest of the Universal-International horror films. John Agar plays Dr. John Bentley, who leads a Middle Eastern expedition in search of a lost tribe of Sumerians. Bentley and his cohorts follow a tunnel deep, deep, deep below the surface of the earth, eventually coming across a tyrannical tribe of albino Sumerians, who use the semi-human Mole People as slaves. What follows is so dull and plodding that stars John Agar and Hugh Beaumont seem like Mel Gibson and Arnold Schwarzenegger in comparison. Some prints of The Mole People are minus the pre-credits "explanation" by 1950s celebrity egghead Dr. Frank Baxter.
A group of scientists discovered deep under the Earth a secret living civilization. The derived from the Sumerians albino people live according to the strict rules of their power-hungry high priest Elinu. The slave labor of albinos are fearsome mole people who are kept like animals.
As a 13-year-old, I liked this low-budget Universal-International production (1956) about ancient Sumerians, but older people told me it was bad and, roughly a decade later, lots of others decided it was camp.
In Asia, archaeologist Dr. Roger Bentley leads a team, including Dr. Paul Stewart, Dr. Jud Bellamin and Etienne Lafarge, on a dig for Sumerian artifacts. They discover a 5,000-year-old stone tablet bearing cuneiform writing, which describes the dedication of a temple to the goddess Ishtar. During a sudden earth tremor, the tablet is broken, but the next day a worker uncovers an oil lamp whose inscription tells the tale of Sharu, who constructed an ark to rescue his people from a massive flood. The ark came to rest on top of the mountain Kuitara, and Sharu and his people built a civilization there. Ignoring his colleagues' misgivings, Roger arranges for an excavation on top of the mountain, and they set out on the treacherous winter climb. Led by guide Nazar, they struggle up the mountain, narrowly surviving an avalanche, and after finally reaching the summit, they encounter the ruins of a Sumerian temple. Just then, however, Paul falls through a crack in the ground, disappearing into a deep shaft. The others go after him and, after a long descent, find Paul dead. They prepare to climb out, but when Nazar taps a loose rope tether, a rock slide commences, killing the guide and trapping the other three inside the mountain.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Like The Monolith Monsters this is another Blu-ray from Anolis out of Germany. I'll be duplicating some of the comments from there. Duplicating that release this Blu-ray of The Mole People has the aspect ratio alteration from the 1.33:1 transfer in the The 6-disc Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection to SuperScope 2.0:1 widescreen (as was 1956's Invasion of the Body Snatchers Blu-ray). We've added a couple of capture comparisons below. You can see you are losing and gaining information (mostly losing top and bottom). This was the time of the ambiguous ratios - some theatres equipped for widescreen - others not. The 2.0:1 was considered an 'in-house' ratio used by Universal and although filmed 'full' was matted depending on each individual theater's projectionist. The 2.0:1 looks okay - well, I'm not going to quibble about composition in this film. The image quality shows a thick layer of textured grain and looks pretty good aside from some damage) scratches and occasional speckles) that are mostly frame-specific. This is single-layered but has a very high bitrate for the 1 1/4 hour film. Contrast is solid and I see no digital noise. The film's effects are pretty weak and they can look even more transparent in the higher resolution. I was appreciative of both the widescreen and the grain textures.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
1.33:1 Universal DVD (reviewed HERE) TOP - 2.0:1 Blu-ray BOTTOM
1.33:1 Universal DVD (reviewed HERE) TOP - 2.0:1 Blu-ray BOTTOM
Audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1564 kbps in original English and a similarly robust German DUB. Audio effects are strangely limited but there is a score - by uncredited combination of Heinz Roemheld (The Invisible Man), Herman Stein (This Island Earth) and Hans J. Salter (The Wolfman). Unfortunately, it is fairly generic but adds some flavor to the viewing experience. There are fully optional German subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Not much - a slideshow gallery and two trailers (German and English). I'm sure there is something to be said about the heavy 'camp' quality of the film - but there is no discussion.
NOTE: This Blu-ray disc is limited to 1000 copies - so if you are keen, best not to wait!
April 26th, 2014
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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