Haven't used mode-compile myself before (but will take a look!)
I tend to just use M-x compile in my Emacs (normally an emacs -nw on an ssh session to a server) combined with an M-x shell buffer where I run little test iterations from the shell.
Something like this in .emacs:
(unless (or (file-exists-p "makefile")
(set (make-local-variable 'compile-command)
(concat "perl -c "
can bind the default M-x compile
to run the perl interpreter on your code and if there are errors hitting Enter on the error message will take you to the offending line in your code buffer.
Having the shell running in an emacs buffer is handy because the whole buffer (or a region of it) can be saved for documentary purposes and you can go back to pick up a command from previously, edit it and re-run it. Since many of my such trials are faking a CGI run (e.g. perl ./blah.pl param1=fred param2=yaada param3=DoIt
), it's fairlly easy to tailor and then modify the command from one trial to another.