Sunday, June 18, 2017

Review: Caltiki The Immortal Monster (1959)

Sometimes a black and white film can surprise you ... and such it is with Caltiki The Immortal Monster. In some respects this is a reworking of The Blob (1958) and X The Unknown (1956), as it features a flesh-eating amorphous blob which goes on the rampage. Here, it’s an ancient Mayan god called Caltiki which rises from an underground pool when an archaeologist called Max (GĂ©rard Herter) falls onto the creature trying to get some gold (a supreme moment of daftness) and it attaches itself to his arm. The lead archaeologist, Professor Fielding (John Merivale) cuts a bit of the monster off trying to rescue his friend and takes it back to the USA where it grows when subjected to radiation. As time passes, the creature (a single celled organism apparently) splits itself into multiple copies and they go on the rampage until the army stops them with fire.

What’s great about the film is that the effects, by Mario Bava, are pretty gruesome and impressive, with a face eaten away by acid, an arm reduced to a skeleton, and the blob-things themselves growing and moving at impressive rate. There’s a lot of model-work in the film too, something only revealed by flames being the wrong scale, but it’s impressive nonetheless.

There’s even a bit of sexy dancing for the dads, where the dancer has a torn off skirt and flashes her knickers far more often than an American film would usually allow at this time.

Overall it’s a superior example of the Italian horror/science fiction film, even if it rips off the ‘hungry blob’ movies mentioned above.  I also felt that perhaps Island of Terror (1966) had been ‘inspired’ a little, with its radiation-created blob monsters.

Directed: Ricardo Freda, Mario Bava

Story by: Philip Just

Arrow DVD Released 10 April 2017

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