Arrow Heads Vol. 43: CALTIKI THE IMMORTAL MONSTER (1959)

A Surprisingly Stunning Creature Feature

1959’s Caltiki The Immortal Monster is a fun and gorgeously shot movie that has the general bearing of 50s science fiction (earnest storytelling with a bit of camp), but packs in some neat surprises for the era.

While visiting some Mayan ruins, a group of explorers encounters a deadly threat — a bloblike monster that eliminates one of their number immediately by dissolving his face right off his skull. Rather quickly, the film announces itself and its most novel feature in a 50s horror landscape: gruesome violence.

The scientists manage to dispatch the monster and take a biological sample back home to study, where it proceeds to escape and demonstrate its abilities which include replication, astronomical growth, and even mind control.

Despite a synopsis that sounds like cheap matinee fare, Caltiki is in no way presented as a popcorn-munching diversion. Rather, this is an astoundingly photographed film with incredible lighting. Characters are bathed in inky shadows and glistening highlights. Just look at how beautiful these screencaps are.

Both the film’s gore and stunning cinematography come into sharp focus when considering its most famous talent: Mario Bava was already a veteran cinematographer when he shot Caltiki, and he ended up co-directing the film (under Riccardo Freda) as well, one of his very first — albeit uncredited — directorial jobs.

The Package

Caltiki The Immortal Monster is available now from Arrow Video.

Caltiki’s package has a reversible cover with both original poster art and a new design by Graham Humphreys. The first pressing features a booklet with essays by Kat Ellinger and Roberto Curti.

(Package information provided by Arrow Video. This review was conducted using a disc-only screener).

Special Features and Extras

• Alternate open-matte version of the film in its entirety

• Original mono Italian and English soundtracks, with English subtitles

• 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 (18:13)
interview with author and critic Kim Newman discussing classic monster movies

Il Ritorno di Caltiki (19:05)
an archival interview with critic Stefano Della Casa

The Genesis of Caltiki (21:33)
an archival interview with filmmaker Luigi Cozzi

• Archival introduction to the film by Stefano Della Casa (0:21)

  • English theatrical trailer (2:07)

• Alternate opening titles for the US version (2:24)

A/V Out.

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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have slight compression inherent to file formats.

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