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Caltiki - Il Mostro Immortale

Caltiki, the Immortal Monster
Caltiki the Undying Monster

Italy 1959
produced by
Bruno Vailati, Sam Schneider for Galatea Film, Lux Film, Climax Pictures
directed by Riccardo Freda (as Robert Hampton)
starring John Merivale, Gérard Herter, Didi Perego (as Didi Sullivan), Daniela Rocca, Vittorio André, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart, Daniele Vargas, Arturo Dominici, Nerio Bernardi (as Black Bernard), Gail Pearl, Deirdre Sullivan
written by Filippo Sanjust, music by Roberto Nicolosi, Roman Vlad, cinematography and special effects by Mario Bava

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Doc Fielding (John Merivale) is leading an expedition to an ancient Maya temple in Mexico, to find out why it was all of a sudden abandoned, some 1300 years ago. All they know is that it had something to do with the Goddess Caltiki and her husband who came from the skies. Eventually, the expedition is attacked by a blob-like being that kills some of them and starts to devour the arm of one of the expedition's leading members, Max (Gérard Herter), before Fielding has the right mind to crash a gasoline truck into the monster, which perishes in the explosion.

But Max' state is critical, and what's worse, inexplicable. So Fielding decides to take the only remaining cell-samples of the creature and give half of them to Professor Rodriguez (Vittorio André) to analyze them in his research lab, while he takes the other half home to do some research himself. At first, the research leads to nothing, then two things happen almost simultaneously: Max, having gone mad from his condition, escaps from the hospital and now wants to abduct Fielding's wife Ellen (Didi Perego), whom he always had the hots for. On the other hand Fielding learns that Caltiki's husband from the legend was actually a comet which passes earth again these days - and the radiation of which seems to give Caltiki (or rather Caltiki's cell-samples) new life.

Soon enough, all hell breaks loose at Rodriguez' research lab as the Caltiki sample has developed into a blob that can only be destroyed when the lab is burned to the ground. But there is another part of Caltiki back at Fielding's home as well, that comes to life with the comet passing as well ... and soon enough, Fielding's wife Ellen finds herself not threatened by madman Max but also by a constantly growing Caltiki - and it's a race against time for Fielding to save her and destroy Caltiki ...

 

Objectively speaking, Caltiki, the Immortal Monster is just as stupid as my synopsis makes it to be, it is a run-of-the-mill monster story full of overused cliches, unintentional humour and the occasional leap of reason. However, the atmospheric direction of Riccardo Freda (one of the finest genre directors of his time) and the elegant camerawork of Mario Bava give the film a certain quality not usually found in this kind of fare, plus the rather simple special effects are used to best effect - all of which make Caltiki, the Immortal Monster one of the best monster movies of its time.

 

By the way, several sources claim that this film's cinematographer Mario Bava - soon to be a celebrated genre director in his own right - directed at least parts of the film ... which according to all serious reports is only true for the effects scenes in the movie, not for any scenes involving actors.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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