Caltiki, The Immortal Monster is most noteworthy as a collaboration between two of the giants of Italian cult cinema, Riccardo Freda (The Vampires, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock), and Mario Bava (5 Dolls for an August Moon, Blood and Black Lace). While Caltiki, The Immortal Monster doesn't quite live up to either filmmaker's reputation for exquisite horror, it's an ideal film for the fine folks at Arrow Video to give a top notch package.
In the film, a team of archaeologists led by Dr John Fielding (John Merivale, Circus of Horrors) descends on the ruins of an ancient Mayan city to investigate the mysterious disappearance of its inhabitants. However, the luckless explorers 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 god Caltiki.
Originally, Freda received sole directing credit. However, a significant portion of the film was actually Bava's work including the fact that he served as cinematographer and was responsible for the film's rather striking, at least for 1959, special effects. A unique sci-fi/thriller drawing on a wide variety of cinematic resources, this is a film that benefits greatly from the fine package of extras put together by Arrow including:
Special Edition Contents:
• XXXX (transfer)
• 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, The Immortal Monster is in many ways your typical B-movie of the 1950's. While it contains more sex and violence than most American B-movies, it maintains a simplistic story and many of the enjoyably camp elements that should please fans of 1950's indie horror. With a relatively short running time and an effort that feels somewhat sub-par for both filmmakers, I'm not sure I can consider the film a "must own," but it is a film that is obscure enough that those who embrace collecting Italian horror or B-movies may want to find a place for it in the collection. For more information on the film, visit the Arrow website linked to in the credits.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic