March 2, 2021

Amazing Animal People #3: The Mole People

Amazing Animal People trading card #3: The Mole People, 1956

The mutant humanoid underground dwellers known as The Mole People are slaves to a lost civilization of Sumerian albinos living in caverns beneath a remote mountain in Asia. They do the heavy manual labor for the effete Sumerians, including gathering the main food staple, mushrooms. Even though they are crucial to keeping the place running, the poor brutes are whipped, abused and exploited at every turn by the humans.

When a team of archaeologists discovers the hidden civilization and have to battle for their lives to keep from being sacrificed to a Sumerian god, the cunning Mole People seize the opportunity to rebel against their oppressive masters.

Funanimal Fact: One of the stars of The Mole People, John Agar, once told an interviewer that he was not impressed with the film’s script:

“Yeah, I remember too that there was some silly dialogue in The Mole People, and I went to [producer] Bill Alland and told him, ‘Bill, people don’t say things like this.’ He said something to the effect that he paid a guy a lot of money to write that dialogue, and I said, ‘Well, you got cheated!’”

He also revealed how the effect of men being dragged underground by the mole people was achieved:

“They put a rubber mat down over a hole in the floor; the mat had an X-shaped slit in it. They covered it with some kind of light material -- it could have been styrofoam -- that was supposed to be earth or gravel. Even when someone was being pulled down through from below, the earth was held up -- a lot of it could not fall through at once. The remaining earth would then cover up where they went through.” [Tom Weaver, Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers, McFarland, 1988, p. 8]

 

Still from The Mole People, 1956
"What's the matter Bob, you're as white as a ghost!"

Animal Crack-up (click on the text to see the punchline):

How do you get a mole to stop digging?


Don't miss these other Amazing Animal People!
Don't miss these other Amazing Animal People:
Lota from Island of Lost Souls | Paula Dupree, Captive Wild Woman

February 27, 2021

Amazing Animal People #2: Captive Wild Woman

Amazing Animal People trading card #2: Paula Dupree, Captive Wild Woman, 1943

Mad endocrinologist Dr. Sigmund Walters (John Carradine) has been experimenting with transmuting animals into higher orders of species with glandular transplants. When he decides that he needs to experiment on larger animals, he arranges to have Cheela, a gentle gorilla, stolen from a local circus.

Walters is convinced that in order to transform Cheela into a human with true human emotions, a brain transplant is also needed. He sacrifices his insubordinate female lab assistant (Fay Helm) for the purpose, and voila!, sultry Paula Dupree (Acquanetta) is born.

The mad doctor brazenly introduces his new creation to the circus' animal trainer, Fred Mason (Milburn Stone), who originally captured Paula in her gorilla form. Paula immediately falls for Fred, even saving his life when a circus lion gets out of control. But when Paula finds out Fred has a beautiful fiancée (Evelyn Ankers), jealousy causes her to revert to her animal nature.

Funanimal Fact: Although Acquanetta (born Mildred Davenport in 1921) had been in a couple of other movies previously, Universal still decided to “introduce” her as Paula Dupree, “A New Sensation in Savagery,” in its marketing campaign. Captive Wild Woman was the first of a series of three films featuring the character -- two mediocre follow-ups, Jungle Woman (1944) and The Jungle Captive (1945) ran the franchise into the ground.

Acquanetta didn’t have a single line of dialog in Captive Wild Woman. Nonetheless, she found the experience exhilarating and exhausting:

“There was no preparation on my part, but I sat sometimes for two and a half hours being made up by a makeup artist. I think I had more emotional feeling, being made up for that, than anything I ever did, because it was exhausting. Edward Dmytryk [the director] and I had great rapport -- we dated briefly. I thought he was tremendous. Eddie gave me more freedom, I think, than other directors. I’ve always felt that I was never ‘me’ in movies -- do you know there was never a film where I was allowed to smile?” [Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and John Brunas, Universal Horrors, The Studio’s Classic Films, 1931-1946, 2nd Ed., McFarland, 2007, p. 343]

 

John Carradine and Acquanetta in Captive Wild Woman, 1943
"That'll be two bits for the haircut and the shave, Miss Dupree."


Animal Crack-up
(click on the text to see the punchline):

Why don't gorillas play poker?


Don't miss these other Amazing Animal People
Don't miss the first installment of the Amazing Animal People:
Lota from the Island of Lost Souls (1932)

and the full review of Captive Wild Woman right here on this site!

February 23, 2021

Amazing Animal People of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror #1: Lota from the Island of Lost Souls

For millennia, human beings have been alternately in awe of and frightened by wild animals. Without our clever brains, we frail, awkward, slow, thin-skinned humans would have been slashed, skewered, filleted, gnoshed on and generally driven to extinction by animal competitors thousands of years ago.

Even though humanity has “won” the competition many times over (causing the extinction of untold species in the process), our myths and folklore are full of awe and wonder at the animal kingdom. From the animal-headed gods of ancient Egypt, to Native American animal shapeshifters, to werewolves and other were-beasts of European folklore, we have long been fascinated with the idea of taking on animal attributes and becoming something more than mere human.

Masked villagers, The Wicker Man (1973)
"A fish, a hare and a goat walk into a bar..."

Of course, modern movie myth-makers have been all-too happy to feed this fascination. From the early days of the silents to the present day, movies have featured all kinds of human-animal hybrids: werewolves, catwomen, apemen, birdmen, minotaurs, bat people and even alligator people.

It’s to these terrifying anthropomorphic animals (or if you prefer, animalistic anthropoids), that I dedicate this third set of virtual monster trading cards, The Amazing Animal People of Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror.

Every movie decade from the 1930s to the 1970s has at least one representative captured from the celluloid jungle. Get in touch with your inner animal and “collect” them all!

Amazing Animal People trading card #1: Lota from Island of Lost Souls, 1932

Derived from a panther, the exotically beautiful Lota (Kathleen Burke) is Doctor Moreau’s (Charles Laughton) greatest, most “human” creation. When shipwrecked sailor Edward Parker (Richard Arlen) washes up on Moreau’s Island of Lost Souls, the mad doctor seizes the opportunity for the ultimate experiment -- to see if Lota can fall in love.

Funanimal Fact: Prior to its release, Island of Lost Souls was kicked around by industry and government censors. 14 states in the U.S. rejected it for exhibition based on Moreau’s likening himself to God, and for its references to evolution as a scientific fact. In the U.K. it was rejected three separate times (the last time in 1957), mostly for its depictions of cruelty to animals.

Still from Island of Lost Souls, 1932
"Hi, I'm Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl."
 

Animal Crack-up (click on the text to see the punchline):