Review: Caltiki and the Immortal Monster
Blu-ray & DVD: Caltiki and the Immortal Monster (1959)
Archeologists are investigating an ancient Mayan city to try and ascertain the reason for the mysterious disappearance of its inhabitants. Led by Dr John Fielding (John Merivale) their greed for lost treasure invokes the wrath of the ancient god Caltiki. Their circumstances get even worse when a comet approaches the Earth…the same comet that may well have given Caltiki ultimate power the last time it passed by our planet and been responsible for the missing Mayan people. Can this ever more powerful deity be stopped?
Following on from the previous years The Blob, comparisons are inevitable. Both contain a huge amorphous monster which devours its victims, but I felt far more satisfied with the build up and backstory of the ‘monster’ in Caltiki, which also elicited more of a sense of fear and dread as it engulfed its victims. Filmed in black and white it also was on the back foot against the colourful Blob from a year previous, but the beautiful cinematography gives it an almost film noir feel at times and accentuates the palpable feeling of dread as it pulsates its way across the screen. The impact of its attacks are also more visceral too; the remnants of a mans arm is lingered over as strands of glutinous mass drip from the exposed bone, while the slow and painful ingestion of another victim makes The Blob look like a naughty bit of silly putty that’s having a day out.
Directed by Riccardo Freda, it is the uncredited role of Mario Bava which elevates Caltiki above its contemporaries. Responsible for directorial duties during a large part of the movie, he also served as its cinematographer and worked on the special effects too. There are some glorious matte paintings and the aforementioned kills by the monster still illicit goosebumps all these years later.
Sci-fi movies of the 50’s are one of my top 3 genre’s ever (along with 1930’s Horror and action movies of the 80’s) and Caltiki and the Immortal Monster, while not in the same league as the likes of When World’s Collide, War of the Worlds, The Incredible Shrinking Man, etc, is definitely a genre piece that I will be revisiting on numerous occasions. This is of course helped by the fantastic 2K restoration of the film from the original camera negative and the always reliable superb set of extra features that Arrow Films spoil us with on their releases.
SPECIAL EDITION FEATURES:
- • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- • Original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
- • Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
- • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
- • New audio commentary by Tim Lucas, author of Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark
- • New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of The Haunted World of Mario Bava and So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
- • From Quatermass to Caltiki, a new discussion with author and critic Kim Newman on the influence of classic monster movies on Caltiki
- • Riccardo Freda, Forgotten Master, an archival interview with critic Stefano Della Casa
- • The Genesis of Caltiki, an archival interview with filmmaker Luigi Cozzi
- • Archival introduction to the film by Stefano Della Casa
- • Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
- • Alternate opening titles for the US version
- • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Kat Ellinger and Roberto Curti
Caltiki and the Immortal Monster will be available to buy from 10th April 2017.
Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films.