A team of archaeologists investigate some Mayan ruins and encounter a blob-like creature that lurks in a cave’s deep pool. This creature begins attacking the team and crawls from the cave, where it is destroyed by fire after a tanker truck full of fuel is crashed into it.
The team returns to Mexico City and one of its members, who had been hurt by the monster, is operated on. A surviving piece of the blob is removed from the patient and it is discovered that radiation causes the monstrous organism to grow larger. This is not good news… because a comet, that emits radiation, is currently crossing Earth’s orbit! Now this remaining piece of the blob starts expanding in size, then begins to subdivide, so it’s up to the Mexican military to take-on these flesh-consuming, viscid blob-creatures with flamethrowers, before the monsters get out of control and become impossible to stop.
Riccardo (THE TERROR OF DR. HICHCOCK) Freda was hired by Galatea Film to direct this early example of Italian science fiction, but he left the project during the filming, leaving Mario (PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES) Bava, who was the movie’s cinematographer and special effects artist, to take over as the (uncredited) director.
Bava’s contribution to CALTIKI is very clear: a lot of care and attention was obviously put into the making of this modestly-budgeted film on a technical level. I especially love the opening scenes at the Mayan temple, with the glass shots of the ruins and the volcano smoke effects that were created in a water tank.
I love blob monster movies! So, of course, I love CALTIKI!
The ancient, single-celled blob monster in CALTIKI – THE IMMORTAL MONSTER is a wonderful Quatermass-inspired creature. Actually, it was made from tripe, the same ingredient used to create the shapeless monster seen at the end of THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT!
There are some cool examples of early gore, including faces dissolved down to their skulls, plus some good use of miniatures (okay, I admit the tank models do look like, well, models at the end) and, basically, the movie just looks great, with some atmospheric, shadowy photography.
One plot thread deals with Max, the injured team member, becoming a bitter, dangerous stalker. It’s a shame that a fair amount of time is spent on this storyline as it just stops us from seeing more blob-related action! Yes – I watched this film for the blobs, not the unhinged psycho-dude!
It’s worth hunting down Arrow Video’s restored high definition transfer of CALTIKI – THE IMMORTAL MONSTER. It boasts two audio commentaries (by Bava historians Tim Lucas and Troy Howarth), a feature with Kim Newman talking about the movie and 50s Italian genre movies in general, blu-ray & DVD discs, a different ratio version, with Italian and English dubs. The full frame presentation version showcases Bava’s special affects photography without the ratio matting. The restoration has new English subtitles. There are also various archival interviews and a 36 page booklet. Now that’s a nice package!