First released as an underground film, it was thanks to John Lennon that the film acquired a worldwide distribution. He was so impressed by this movie that he urged a close friend of his to buy the rights and take charge of distribution.
Years later, Alejandro Jodorowsky, ashamed of the part he forced his own son to play, invited him to his house. He went with his son to the backyard and asked him to dig. Inside the hole, there was an old teddy bear and an old picture of his mother, and Alexandro said: "Now you are 8 years old, and you have the right to be a kid".
Since the early 90's, Jodorowsky has been attempting to make a sequel to "El Topo," originally called "The Sons Of El Topo" (Los Hijos Del Topo). Sometime between 1996-2002, this was changed to "Abelcain," due to ownership disputes with Allen Klein. Additionally, the name of the character El Topo (The Mole) was changed to 'El Toro' (The Bull). Jodorowsky stated, "I am now working on a Franco-Canadian production called Abelcain, which is a new version of the same project. The character El Topo has become El Toro. A single slash added on letter P changed a subterranean rat into a charging bull." A 2002 article in The Guardian had stated that long-time Jodorowsky fan Marilyn Manson was attached to star in the film as Cain. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, the plot would follow Cain as he teams up with his long-lost brother Abel to battle an enemy adept at technological witchery, and in doing so overcome the curse that marks their destiny. In 1996, a teaser poster was released, even though no footage had actually been shot. However, due to Jodorowsky's difficulty to raise money for the project, as of 2007, the project appears to have been put on hold indefinitely.
The title of the movie and the main character's name are a metaphor of the underground cinema in the sixties. The mole digs holes so as to emerge from the underground to the surface. This was happening with some low-budget movies that quickly gained mainstream popularity.
During the scene in which El Topo's female companion tries to drink water from a river, only to discover that it is bitter in taste, El Topo tells her that Moses found water in the desert and that the people tried drinking it but that it was bitter and so they called it "marah". In Hebrew, "marah" means "bitter". Marah is also one of the locations which the Torah identifies as having been traveled through by the Israelites during the Exodus.