The Film (4/5)
One of my all-time favorite monster movies, Caltiki, the Immortal Monster is a basically an Italian variation of The Blob. Caltiki is discovered by a group of archaeologists led by Professor John Fielding (John Merivate, Circus of Horrors) and Max Gunther (Gerard Herter, Adios, Sabata) when they do some exploring inside a cave. There is a huge pool of water inside the cave; Professor Fielding sends one of team to dive down into the water to see what’s at the bottom. He finds dead bodies and some gold. Knowing the value of gold, he takes the gold, with the intent of making a fortune. Later he goes back down to the bottom of the pool again for more gold, but this time he gets attacked and eaten by Caltiki. As the saying goes, “he went to the well one too many times”.
Caltiki rises from the pool and attacks the group, but is disposed of via fire, but not after injuring Max by digesting his arm. Professor Fielding removes the piece of Caltiki that was eating Max’s arm, and contains it for research purposes. Max, due to the bacteria Caltiki contained when his arm was nearly eaten by the evil blob, becomes a deranged madman. In the films exciting climax, Caltiki escapes his containment and splits into a lot of Caltiki blobs (Caltikies?), including a really huge one which came out of nowhere. They destroy Professor Fielding’s home, and nearly kills his lovely wife Ellen (Didi Sullivan, The Woman’s Confident) and their daughter.
I just love Caltiki, the Immortal Monster. The movie is highly atmospheric, filmed in gritty black and white. The performances by the cast are well done. There are some really cool ahead of its time gore scenes such as human flesh dissolving to skeletons a few other startling for 1959 scenes. The only part that I’d call a drawback is a scene with some local natives dancing. I’m not sure if was to pad the film, as the film is only 80 minutes, but native dancing scenes in movies usually do not glue me to my seat. Outside of that, the movie is just entertaining from start to finish, of course more when Caltiki appears, but overall it is a very much underrated and unappreciated picture.
Caltiki, The Immortal Monster was originally directed by Riccardo Freda, but he left before it was completed. Mario Bava (A Bay of Blood, Baron Blood), was then hired to direct the film, while also doing the cinematography for it. Bava would later become one of the most influential, if not, the most Italian director of all-time.
The first thing that I want to mention here is that never in my life did I think this obscure gem would ever get an actual domestic home video release no matter how often I requested it. Prior to this release there was a Region 2 DVD from 2007 that No Shame released, which was really good, but the extras weren’t English friendly. The picture quality for that release was good as No Shame did a very credible job with their release.
But now Arrow puts that release to “shame” as it were. The announcement a few months ago came straight out of nowhere, and surprised the living daylights out me. I’ve been very anxious to see this release ever since and now that I have, I am happy to say it was well worth the wait.
Caltiki, the Immortal Monster makes its long awaited domestic debut on Blu-ray and DVD; presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:66:1, in 1080p with an MPEG-4, AVC encode, Caltiki looks just stupendous. This image looks smooth, well-polished, and crystal clear as if the film were made yesterday instead of 1959. Yes, it looks that good. The greyscale is flawless with balanced black levels. The exteriors, sets all look just fantastic with excellent black and white textures. There is so much more details to be seen on this release than on any other release out there. A lot of time and care was put into the Blu-ray of Caltiki, and it really shows. This was one incredibly wonderful viewing experience.
The audio quality for Caltiki gets a high score as well. This release includes the original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
LPCM 1.0 is the audio used for both the Italian and English language versions. The quirky sounds that Caltiki makes, the music, dialog, other audio effects all sound terrific.
There are newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack. And on top of that, this release has optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
Caltiki, the Immortal Monster is just loaded with extras. Arrow has outdone themselves again. There is no question that this will be the Holy Grail for Blu-ray releases of Caltiki. There are not one, but two very informative audio commentaries, which are from Tim Lucas and Troy Howarth, who are both wonderful inspiring writers and extremely knowledgeable about Mario Bava and his films.
There are several other great featurettes for this release. We get 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, an archival introduction to the film by Stefano Della Casa, original Italian and English theatrical trailers, an alternate opening title for the US version, plus a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
For the first pressing of this release, there is an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Kat Ellinger and Roberto Curti
Nothing makes me happier than seeing a favorite film of mine receive a Blu-ray release. Caltiki is a childhood favorite of mine, having watched it for well over 20 years. This is the best that Caltiki, the Immortal Monster has ever looked, and it comes with some great supplements, Arrow has done more for one could ever have the right to even imagine for this release. I highly recommend this release and will give Arrow Video the just desserts and accolades that they rightfully deserve for bringing an obscure movie to home video. This is the kind of release that makes me confident that Arrow can bring other obscure movies and give them the royal treatment as well. Movies such as The Flesh Eaters, I Eat Your Skin, The Giant Spider Invasion, Invasion of the Vampires, Pulgasari, and other obscure wonders would be just phenomenal under the Arrow banner. But for now, I am highly thankful to Arrow for releasing Caltiki!