Sunday, October 15, 2017


Caltiki, The Immortal Monster (1959) d. Freda, Riccardo/Bava, Mario (Italy) (2nd viewing) 78 min

Led by Dr John Fielding (John Merivale, Circus of Horrors), a team of archaeologists descends on the ruins of an ancient Mayan city to investigate the mysterious disappearance of its inhabitants. However, the unfortunate adventurers get more than they bargained for when their investigation of a sacrificial pool awakens the monster that dwells beneath its waters - the fearsome and malevolent (and radioactive!) god Caltiki.

Though Freda (The Horrible Dr. Hichcock) received sole directing credit, much of the film was helmed by the upcomer Bava, who also served as its cinematographer and was responsible its striking special effects. (The amorphous titular terror measures up quite favorably alongside late-1950s spiritual brethren The Blob and X the Unknown.) In the years to follow, of course, Bava would break out with his masterpieces Black Sunday (1960) and Black Sabbath (1963) and go on to influence an entire generation of genre filmmakers.

Drawing on a diverse array of influences, from The Quatermass Experiment (Hammer’s 1955 sci-fi smash that led directly to their game-changing Gothic versions of Dracula and Frankenstein) to the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Caltiki is a unique and thoroughly enjoyable chiller that showcases two legendary icons at their most inventive.

Arrow’s new Blu-ray is an extraordinary love letter to this oft-ignored entry in Italian sci-fi cinema, packed with supplements that should have fans’ mouths watering. Two newly recorded audio commentaries – by award-winning authors Tim Lucas (Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark) and Troy Howarth (The Haunted World of Mario Bava) – are the two twin peaks, providing much-appreciated context for the film both within the genre itself as well as part of the filmmakers’ career arcs. I could seriously sit and listen to these guys all day, so informative and engaging are their respective patters.

Then another of my favorite genre authorities, Kim Newman (Nightmare Movies, Apocalypse Movies) shows up for a 20-minute chat, “From Quatermass to Caltiki,” on the influence of classic monster movies on the flick, followed by archival interviews (from No Shame’s previous DVD release) with Freda, critic Stefano Della Casa, and Italian fixture Luigi Cozzi. Alternate opening titles for the U.S. release and a brief intro from Casa round out the goodies.

Caltiki, The Immortal Monster is available now from Arrow Video and can be ordered HERE:


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