'Caltiki The Immortal Monster (Special Edition)'
(John Merivale, Didi Sullivan, Giacomo Rossi Stuart, et al / Blu ray+DVD / NR / (1959) 2017 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: A team of archaeologists led by Dr John Fielding (John Merivale, Circus of Horrors) descends on the ruins of an ancient Mayan city to investigate the mysterious disappearance of its inhabitants. However, the luckless explorers get more than they bargained for when their investigation of a sacrificial pool awakens the monster that dwells beneath its waters the fearsome and malevolent god Caltiki.
Blu-ray Verdict: For those not in the know, much of the cinematography of the Italian-made 'Caltiki The Immortal Monster' is in black and white - and yet, for my money, is thoroughly noir in its detail. [Mario Bava is credited with it]. This is a sci-fi/horror/blob picture out of Italy and an extremely well-done movie, utilizing models at times for special effects in the Japanese style. While not a film noir, persay, it has the shadowy lighting in spades.
It shares also a certain politically-inspired paranoia of that period in which civilization, even mankind, is threatened. Quite often in these films, scientists have a hand in discovering this or even causing this but also a hand in conquering it. Radioactivity plays a role, but in this one it's linked to the periodic arrival of a comet.
The film's opening could not be more atmospheric, showing darkly lit volcanic landscapes and spires and a man fleeing. The shapes of the Mayan-era volcanic masses compete easily with the vampiric Carpathians. It's like a much more intense reworking of the opening to 'Kiss Me Deadly' (1955). A huge grotto accessed by a steep stone staircase weathered by age provides another stunning backdrop, in a remote way going back to sets in 'Son of Frankenstein' (1939), a great sci-fi/horror movie with a relation to noir.
In the climax, the all-absorbing blob, a single-celled genetic throwback with a taffy-like interior and a glistening coat-like exterior, threatens the chief scientist's wife and child, subliminal symbols of the nation, justice, earth, fecundity and the future. Able to absorb bullets and tanks, it can only be destroyed by something mythically as elemental.
In closing, I feel like I should point out that one ugly moment has one of the psychotic characters being shown inside Caltiki. Practically dissolving into a skeleton before your eyes an actual survivor of Caltiki also literally has their arm chewed off. This isn't going to be for everybody, sure, but I can see why it has a cult following. This is a Full Screen presentation (1:66.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
• XXXX (transfer)
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
• Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
• 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, a new discussion with author and critic Kim Newman on the influence of classic monster movies on Caltiki
• Riccardo Freda, Forgotten Master, an archival interview with critic Stefano Della Casa
• The Genesis of Caltiki, an archival interview with filmmaker Luigi Cozzi
• Archival introduction to the film by Stefano Della Casa
• Original Italian and English theatrical trailers
• Alternate opening titles for the US version
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
'Caltiki The Immortal Monster (Special Edition)' is available for purchase on April 25th, 2017.
'Caltiki The Immortal Monster (Special Edition)' Purchase Link