Caltiki: The Immortal Monster is a film that could have been a lot better, but definitely defines what a cult classic is. The film is filled with impressive special effects and an eerie atmosphere. The blu-ray is fantastic, not just for fans of the film, but for film students as well.
This is a typically dry, yet informative historian track. Lucas has written many books including a book about Mario Bava, who shot all of the effects sequences in the film, yet remains uncredited too this day. Lucas is a good natured person and gives us reams of information about anything and everything about this film. I did like the track, but I like historian tracks because they are calming and easy to listen to.
Commentary with Troy Howarth
This is a much more welcoming track. It feels like Howarth is sitting next to you, telling you about the film and the people who made it. Howarth is no slouch, either. He authored the books The Haunted World of Mario Bava and So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films, so the guy knows his stuff. It is refreshing to find two commentary tracks on the same film that are so different in their approach to the material, yet are both so good.
From Quatermass to Caltiki (18m 13s, HD)
Author and film critic Kim Newman gives us a tour of the films that lead to the creation of Caltiki. Newman talks about the loss of the gothic horror and the growth of sci-fi horror in the wake of the Red Scare in the U.S. Even though I knew most of the info that Newman was talking about, I still found this discussion interesting.
Full Aperture Version (1h 16m, HD)
This text appears onscreen before this version of the film starts:
Caltiki — The Immortal Monster was designed to be exhibited in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, and is presented in this form on the default viewing option on this disc.
However, an examination of the elements revealed that, while a significant amount of the film had been shot with an in camera hard matte, much of it — including most of the effects shot created by the film's uncredited seond director Mario Bava — was in fact shot with no in camera matte present.
An open matte presentation therefore preserves more of Bava's remarkable effects work.
In consultation with Bava historian Tim Lucas, a decision was made to also provide this alternative, full aperture viewing option, which presents the film as directly captured 35mm dupe negative and provides both an expanded view of the film's effects and a fascinating insight into its "mixed parentage".
This is a really interesting watch. As stated above, a lot of the film was shot with hard mattes, but the effects shots weren’t, so we get to see all of the effects in their full glory. Most of the time people complain about something like this, but I guess since it is a special feature, there won’t be much complaining. This is worth a look just to see how different pieces of a film are shot.
-Ricardo Freda, Forgotten Master (19m 50s, SD)
This is an interview with film critic Steffano Della Casa that looks back at Caltiki.
-The Genesis of Caltiki (21m 33s, SD, 1.33:1)
An interview with filmmaker and author Luigi Cozzi, who wrote the first book about Italian horror and sci-fi.
-Archival Introduction (21s, SD)
Steffano Della Casa gives a brief description of the film we are about to watch.
-U.S. Theatrical Trailer (2m 7s, HD, 1.33:1)
-U.S. Opening Titles (2m 24s, HD)
Says that these are in HD, but I beg to differ.
THE PACKAGING N/A
The blu-ray is REGION FREE and the DVD is REGION ONE.
THE PICTURE ⭐⭐⭐1/2
THE SOUND ⭐⭐⭐
THE FILM ⭐⭐1/2
Plot: Archaeologists investigating some Mayan ruins come across a blob-like monster. They manage to destroy it with fire, but keep a sample. Meanwhile, a comet is due to pass close to the Earth - the same comet passed near the Earth at the time the Mayan civilization mysteriously collapsed.
Caltiki is basically an Italian version of The Blob. The sample that they keep of the monster grows in size and separates, creating many blobs. In fact, this film should have been called “Blobs”.
Anyway, the film tries to shoehorn in a villain who becomes more of a villain when the monster takes the skin and muscle from one of his arms, in a really gross scene. This villain is pretty pointless, though, as he kills a few people before being eaten by the monster.
I liked Caltiki, but only so much. The film’s run time is 76 minutes, but the film feels a lot longer. There are scenes that don’t play out very well, like a lot of the scenes with dialogue, and there is a long scene with a girl from a local tribe doing a dance before she is “scared” by a guy who is trying to take her picture.
The film moves at a snail’s pace until the monster breaks out of the small glass box it was being kept in. From that point, the film picks up and becomes vastly more interesting than almost anything that came before it. Bava’s effects work is impressive and rivals the effects work that was done on the original The Blob. Bava also creates a sense of dread in some of early scenes when they first find the monster. I liked all of the monster stuff, but the human stuff is overbearing.
Caltiki is an interesting film as it is a film that is trying to be like the American sci-fi films of the 50’s and does achieve some of that, but mostly fails when it comes to human interaction. The effects are impressive and the atmosphere is dark and scary.